Ozarks Professors to Present Workshops in the Bahamas

December 12, 2019
By Amy Lloyd

Three University of the Ozarks professors are headed to the Bahamas in January to share their expertise through week-long workshops at the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) on Andros.

Dr. Warren Sconiers, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Allison Freed, assistant professor of education/science education and director of the Pat Walker Teacher Education Program; and Dr. Yassine Dguidegue, assistant professor of sociology; will each be presenting seven-day workshops in their respective disciplines at BAMSI, an academic institute and demonstration farm on the largest Bahamian island of Andros.

The venture is in conjunction with the University’s 2018 agreement with BAMSI that facilitates student and faculty exchange and other academic collaborations between the two institutions. The trip is also supported by the Dr. Helen McElree Faculty Enrichment Fund that was established in 2016 by McElree, an Ozarks alumna and longtime biology professor who is an honorary lifetime member of the University’s Board of Trustees. The fund was created to enrich the academic culture at Ozarks and to support faculty scholarly and creative activities.

President Dunsworth and BAMSI director RaveeniaDr. Raveenia Roberts-Hanna, executive director of BAMSI, visited Ozarks in November and met with University President Richard Dunsworth as well as faculty, staff and students to discuss possible teaching and learning opportunities for faculty and students from both places.

“University of the Ozarks has a strong relationship with BAMSI and the Bahamas and I am thrilled that our faculty from diverse disciplines will be presenting workshops and will be immersed in the unique island culture of Andros,” said U of O Provost Dr. Alyson Gill. “I am grateful to Dr. Roberts-Hanna for offering this opportunity to our faculty for their students and the community, and am looking forward to continued shared projects as we grow our relationship with BAMSI.”

Sconiers will present workshops, Q&A sessions and lectures on agricultural pest management, biodiversity of insects and terrestrial arthropods and experimental design and application of biological research. He will teach students and participants how to catch and identify common agricultural pests as well as methods to monitor and reduce their presence.

“We will also explore careers in entomology, agricultural research and industry, and help participants find resources to learn more,” Sconiers said. “I will also go into detail on how to design experiments that effectively answer scientific questions in agriculture, plant physiology and entomology, in a variety of habitats and spatial scales.”

Freed will work with a number of audiences, including faculty and students at BAMSI, the local community, children and in-service teachers on the island of Andros.

“The focus of my presentations will be on effective teaching practices, science teaching and learning and environmental education,” Freed said.

Dguidegue will present a workshop titled, “Agricultural Extension: Bridging Local and Scientific Knowledge.” This workshop aims at applying community-based research and engagement, which bridge farming local knowledge and scientific knowledge. Dguidegue said the goal of the workshop is to look at international examples of extension that seek to embody the two major values of BAMSI: “Facilitating knowledge transfer and critical thinking,” and “Facilitating community engagement, partnership and outreach.”

“Farmer involvement in research has been demonstrated to be important in agricultural development,” Dguidegue said. “However, since the majority of the world’s poor and food insecure people are smallholder farmers, farm laborers and herders, extension agencies have to mobilize appropriate educational and engagement resources to bridge farmers’ knowledge with scientific knowledge. Throughout this workshop, we will examine national and international models of extension bearing in mind the question of the extent to which they are applicable to BAMSI’ s extension works.”