University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Sept. 17, 2004


UW-RF Prof Receives Distinguished Agriculture Teachers' Award

By Charlotte J. Muenzenberger
UW-RF News Bureau

Students wait patiently for class to start in Professor Bonnie Walter's food science lab at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In addition to the college students in the room, a 6-year-old sits on her desk and his younger sister sits in the front row.

Walters enters, with lesson plans in one hand and a food-processing video in the other. Bonnie ushers the boy--her son Jim--off the desk and tells him to go sit with his sister. Visiting class because school's out, they sit quietly in the front row, next to the college students, and watch Bonnie lecture and then the tomato-processing video. At the end of class, Bonnie asks a question about a step in tomato processing, and son Jim answers the question.

Walters has a way of teaching that makes the material easy and fun to learn, so it's not unusual that even her young son absorbs the important points. Because of her teaching style, she is the recipient of the 2004 Northern American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Fellow Award. In June, Walters attended the 50th annual NACTA conference at the University of Florida at Gainesville to accept her award. The purpose of the national award is to recognize agriculture teachers who excel in higher education.

A member of the UW-River Falls animal and food science department, Walters specializes in teaching poultry production and food science. She received her B.S. from UW-River Falls, a M.S. from University of Iowa and a Ph.D from University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1992, Walters returned to teach at her alma mater, where she also coaches collegiate poultry judging and advises the UW-RF Poultry Club. A resident of Glenwood City, Walters is married to agricultural education assistant Professor Tim Buttles.

To qualify for the award, the teacher must be a member of NACTA. Walters has been a member for six years and has pledged a lifetime membership. Teachers nominated must be full-time with at least 25% teaching appointment for a minimum of five to seven years. Perry Clark, a UW-River Falls professor of dairy and animal sciences, nominated Walters for the award.

"The recognition goes beyond the state, and it is outstanding for a UW-River Falls professor to receive this award," said CAFES Dean Steve Ridley. "Having worked with Walters, I know she really puts her heart into her teaching, and I really cheer her for this award."

Nomination criteria evaluated includes an instructor's teaching philosophy; a letter of nomination; student, peer, and alumni evaluations; a self-evaluation; teaching innovations, and a list of professional activities. A committee of NACTA members award the nominee a final score out of 900 points. In order to receive the award, the nominee must receive a minimum score of 720 points.

"I feel really honored to receive this award," said Walters. "It makes me feel good to know that my teaching is valuable to my students."

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