Sowing the seeds for agriscience educators
Photos by Darshaye Robinson and Michele Walfred October 19, 2023
UD alumna and Delaware agriscience teacher Brynn Bailey inspires high school students
As part of its land-grant mission, the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has a long history teaching the next generation of agricultural scientists. After their time as students in the classrooms of Townsend Hall and laboratories of Worrilow Hall, some of these Blue Hens take teaching to heart — becoming educators themselves.
One of those alumni is Brynn Bailey. As a Newark native, Bailey is the product of local educators, having graduated from Christiana High School in 2007 and UD in 2011.
“I was exposed to a lot of different opportunities at the University of Delaware,” Bailey said. “It was really nice to be able to take a variety of different courses that could set me up to be successful as a teacher, no matter what subject I ended up teaching.”
Upon graduation, Bailey returned to the Christina School District as an agricultural science teacher, instructing grades nine through 12 at Christiana High School, her alma mater, in food science, horticulture and agricultural leadership.
Bailey now works in the Appoquinimink School District at Middletown High School, teaching plant and animal science. A passionate educator, she puts the success of her students first.
“In the past five years, we’ve just begun a school-to-work pipeline,” Bailey said. “We’ve been trying to get students as much exposure to the industry that they’re interested in as possible.”
This pipeline places students in work-based learning opportunities at the end of their senior year, immersing them in the field of their choice. Their work placement or project is overseen by an industry member, many of which derive from UD.
“We have strong connections with our university partners, like University of Delaware, that are willing to take on our students and give them that experience that’s going to give them a leg up as they head on into the workforce or into college,” Bailey said.
The staff at the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens (UDBG) are among the eager UD employees willing to take on Bailey’s students. From March to May, plant science students placed at UDBG assist with preparation for their spring plant sale, working in the greenhouses, providing outside maintenance and identifying plants.
When Bailey’s seniors flip their tassels, summer is no time for relaxation; her attention turns to her fellow educators. She is one of several teachers appointed to plan a series of workshops for agriculture teachers, known as the Ag Summer Conference, sponsored annually by the Delaware Association of Agriscience Educators (DAAE).
“We work to put together a summer conference, and we try to figure out what’s the best thing for everyone across the state in terms of professional learning,” Bailey said.
Each year, one person per content area is selected, including a plant science, animal science, structures and mechanics, natural resources and middle school chairperson. These teachers make arrangements for the upcoming conference in June.
Nearly 50 educators attended this summer’s conference. They attended workshops, accessed new resources and connected with industry contacts and colleagues. To pull this off, Bailey and her team began preparing last November.
“All of this is definitely a team effort,” Bailey said.
By capitalizing on their shared passion for agriculture, they helped facilitate an event designed to inspire educators, much like those that instructed Bailey as a student and the ones she now molds as a teacher.
“Being in such a small state, we have an advantage to the fact that we as teachers all know each other,” Bailey said. “We have a really strong bond as a group of educators.”