College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources

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Inspiring Teacher: Erika Berg, associate professor of equine science

Erika Berg firmly believes that students learn best by doing, and most students jump

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Erika Berg

at the chance when the lessons involve horses.

Berg teaches a variety of NDSU’s equine science courses, such as Introduction to Therapeutic Horsemanship, Introduction to Equine Studies online, Principles of Therapeutic Horsemanship Instruction and Equine Anatomy and Physiology.

She also directs the innovative Bison Strides equine-assisted activities and therapies program.

“Teaching at NDSU is special because having the opportunity to engage with students, share different perspectives in meaningful ways and relating those experiences to course topics is exciting,” Berg said.

Known for always having her door open for students, Berg continually looks for ways to better meet students’ needs. She participated in the Gateways program through the NDSU Office of Teaching and Learning, and the program’s focus proved valuable.

“It made a tremendous impact on my teaching,” she said. “Through Gateways, I learned from incredible teachers and speakers who promoted student-centered, active-learning strategies in the classroom.”

And that means incorporating as many hands-on learning opportunities as possible.

“I truly see the merit of experiential learning for students and I work to incorporate as much as I can,” said Berg, who joined the NDSU faculty in 2008. “Integrating knowledge gained in the classroom to real situations drives home the ‘why,’ and I hope this enables students to develop an appreciation for the educational process.”

Berg’s teaching philosophy includes material that goes beyond the classroom or a horse pen at the NDSU Equine Center. She emphasizes that all people have something to offer.

“I want to give students the tools to understand the importance of service; it is an interaction – not simply giving while another receives,” she said. “It is critically important to not assume the needs of others. People must do their homework about an issue to better understand the individual, community or non-profit needs before offering assistance.

“To do service well (and life in general I think), one must have the ability to truly listen and hear what people are saying, and then care about it,” Berg said. “These are essential skills for success and something NDSU promotes and fosters.”

Berg earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Purdue University and her doctorate in animal science from the University of Missouri.

Source: NDSU News

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