November 21, 2002

Ag Professor Wins Award From Group

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One of Cornell’s own was honored by the US government last weekend.

Prof. Barbara Knuth, natural resources was presented the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Agriculture Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award for the Northeast region. Knuth received the award for her achievement in the field of environmental and natural resources policy and management.

Prof. Jim Lassoie, natural resources, nominated Knuth last spring for her innovative teaching style.

“I watched her teaching program develop and it progressed extremely well. I thought she was a strong candidate for the award,” Lassoie said.

Students also believe her instruction has aided in their understanding of natural resource policy and management.

“She brings real world examples into the classroom. [Knuth] forces us to look at environmental problems and we [look for ways] to find solutions to them,” said a student of Knuth’s, Greg Andeck ’03.

In addition to progress in the classroom, Knuth has contributed to the expansion of the natural resources department. As an assistant professor, Knuth devised two new courses: Natural Resources Management and Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Processes.

“It was a huge amount of work she did early in her career. I was very impressed with her ability as an assistant to develop two new courses and a strong research program that she continues to maintain today,” Lassoie said.

In Natural Resources Management, students perform case studies to examine resource management. In her other class, students visit Washington D.C. to learn the role of natural resources in the legislative process.

“This class is really important for helping students find a career path,” Lassoie said. “For a lot of students, [the trip] was a life-changing course because it was one they could see their future in.”

Knuth was chosen as a recipient for the award through the Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Awards Program.

Candidates are nominated by schools throughout the country and a program committee made up of teachers and scholars select two national and eight regional winners. Candidates are selected based on commitment to teaching, assistance to students and scholarship.

While Knuth has played a major role in expanding the curriculum in her department, she believes students have contributed to her success.

“As teachers, we should never lose sight of this gift [of students] that is given back to us by every student who engages in our class discussions, who stopped by to talk during office hours, or who goes on to think about and apply the ideas we have discussed with them,” Knuth stated. “I feel very appreciative.”


Archived article by Eileen Soltes