Derek joins 345 other National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors from across America. He is one of only twenty-four selected this year.
Derek Ritenour, agriscience teacher at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock, Va., successfully completed the 14th annual DuPont National Agriscience Teachers Ambassador Academy (NATAA), held at the Iowa FFA Enrichment center on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa. Upon completing the program, Ritenour became an Agriscience Ambassador, joining the other 345 outstanding agriscience teachers from across the country who have earned that designation.
In 2016, there were over 300 applications to complete this program, but only 24 teachers were selected nationwide. Derek Ritenour is one of these 24.
The National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy is a professional development institute sponsored by DuPont and managed by the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE). This year, Ritenour joined other top-ranked agriscience teachers selected to engage in inquiry-based activities and explore state-of-the-art teaching concepts. Ambassador candidates spent the majority of their time exploring effective inquiry-based teaching methods and learning how to draw out the science already present in many agricultural concepts.
The hands-on approach is designed to energize teachers and make them comfortable carrying that learning style back to their own classrooms. Ambassador candidates also visited the DuPont Pioneer headquarters and took part in a panel discussion where DuPont Pioneer employees talked about the qualities they look for in new employees. This will help the teachers prepare their students to be career-ready upon graduation.
“Agriscience teachers are preparing students who will make breakthroughs in agriculture and nutrition needed to feed the world in the next 30 years,” said Timothy Glenn, president, DuPont Crop Protection. “NATAA is an important professional development experience that gives teachers the tools to inspire and prepare students who will be tomorrow’s agriscience innovators.”
NATAA helps teachers open the door for students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Each class of Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors impacts more than 10,000 students. Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors also give multiple workshops to their peers, reaching more than 2,000 teachers across the U.S. including Puerto Rico and Alaska. All in all, the program has impacted well over a million students during its course.
The National Association of Agricultural Educators is a federation of state agricultural educator associations with more than 8,000 members. Currently NAAE is focusing on advocacy for agricultural education as well as professional development for and recruitment and retention of agricultural educators. NAAE offers a variety of programs and services to support this mission.
Derek Ritenour is beginning his 11th year as an agricultural education teacher with 8 of those years at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock, VA. A graduate of Central High School (2002), Ritenour earned his bachelor’s degree at Ferrum College (2006) and is currently pursuing his Masters in Education at Shenandoah University.