Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication
2016 D.W. Brooks Diversity Award - Departmental
Students in Associate Professor Nick Fuhrman’s agricultural education course “Teaching with Animals” have signed up for the course because they want to improve their public speaking and presentation skills.
However, for many of the students, that’s just the beginning of what they gain from the class.
For the past two years, students from Fuhrman’s class take his menagerie of teaching animals — including Snowy the corn snake and Mitsy the gopher tortoise — to Extra Special People, an activity center for special needs children in Watkinsville, Georgia.
The students teach Extra Special People participants about the wonders of wildlife, and in turn, they learn a lot about themselves and the impact that their service can have on the lives on others.
Students routinely come away from the class feeling that they learned the difference between presenting and teaching. One student called his teaching experience with Extra Special People “the most impactful assignment that (he’s) ever completed.”
“The experience of undergraduates engaging and mentoring youth with disabilities builds critical life skills, including leadership, listening and empathy, while building friendships between special needs youth and the UGA students they admire.”
To date, more than 50 undergraduate students have had the chance to work with students at Extra Special People through Fuhrman’s groundbreaking course, and the course has garnered national attention.
In 2014, Fuhrman and his class were recognized at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture conference.