A Few Cents from Dr. Brandt

Posted: December 12, 2012

A followup to his "Field Tripping" Blog, Frank looks back on a semester of ASM 327, a class that made him look at soil and water resource management in a new way.
Dr. Brandt showing us how to tackle the calculations in our lab

Dr. Brandt showing us how to tackle the calculations in our lab

The semester’s winding down now, but we’re still learning new material in my classes. After four months of hard work, we students are pretty tired, but now’s definitely not the time to give up since our professors are tying together everything we’ve done this semester. A class I discussed before, ASM 327, is a perfect example of this thorough education.

Just recently we went on a bus tour to look at sedimentation and stormwater basins all around the State College Area. You can find these structures in almost any given neighborhood, shopping center, or park, but actually learning what they’re doing and why reformed my perspective of them. The textbook diagrams came to life! I realize I probably sound like a dork saying that, but simple class activities like this field trip can transform a commonplace thing into a creation with a purpose. And thinking again about things taken for granted is a trend I’ve found in many of my Ag Sci classes.

With the field trips, lab work, and demonstrations our professor, Dr. Brandt, was eager to provide for us, I had a feeling that he probably felt strongly about the benefits of this visual, active, hands-on approach, so I went to hear his thoughts about the class.

He said, “Think about everything we’re learning: from precipitation to runoff to erosion to underground infrastructures-–it’s all incredibly important to ag sciences. And as far as the class format goes, I start out with all those field trips and hands-on activities to help students realize their capability before we fully get into the material, and it certainly helps everyone to make friends.”

I was impressed by his answer already, but he continued, “I believe this class, which is taken mainly by ERM and ASM majors, is important because it’s a solid building block in their studies. They’re always engaged students, so I want to provide them with an engaging class. Agricultural Systems Management majors are going to be providing food for the world, and they need to be masters of technology, business, and discipline in order to do so. Environmental Resource Management majors are trying to make the world a better place. This will educate them both on an important science they need to know to make good decisions in their future careers.

“This is what’s so great about our Ag Science program. Our students don’t go into it for the money; they do it for other people. And they all serve to provide the most important needs for others: food, water, and air-–the essentials of life. That’s what I love about them, and that’s what I love about this college.”

Thanks, Dr. Brandt. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And while I’d recommend ASM 327 to any student, pretty much any Ag Sci class you take here will have a professor with a similar outlook and approach to teaching. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have something special.