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Inspiring Teacher: Loren Baranko, lecturer of animal sciences

Loren Baranko brings enthusiasm, fun and a love for her industry to the classroom.

Baranko teaches Introduction to Animal Sciences and Livestock Production – two first-year experience courses for animal and equine science freshmen and a section for transfer and non-traditional students.

She also co-teaches Introduction to Anthrozoology and serves as the internship coordinator for animal and equine science students.

WHAT EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU PROVIDE STUDENTS?

I am fortunate to work with some wonderful people at the many NDSU animal facilities where I can bring students for hands-on learning experiences. Students get opportunities to see and work with animals while learning about the many facets of the animal sciences industry.

We require our students to complete an internship experience prior to graduation. This is an important component of their education where they can apply things learned in the classroom to industry and make connections with potential employers.

I also assisted with a study abroad program to Ireland two years ago, and we are going to Spain this summer. Students learn more about the equine and animal industry in different countries and they can reflect on how those experiences relate to the industry in the U.S.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS OR TOPIC TO TEACH?

My favorite class is Introduction to Animal Sciences. Not all of my students come from a farming or ranching background and some have never touched a sheep or handled a horse. I enjoy the challenge of working to engage students from all backgrounds and hope to get them excited about the animal sciences industry and agriculture in general.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT TEACHING?

Connections. I enjoy connecting with students and giving them opportunities to make connections with each other. I believe that once those connections form, this is when learning really happens. I also enjoy finding ways for students to connect to the information in the course and pique their interest so they want to continue to explore.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TEACHING STYLE?

I strive to engage students in discussion – starting on the very first day of class. Sometimes my role in the classroom is just to facilitate discussion and group work. I believe it is important to give them the opportunity to problem solve and teach one another. I work to create a positive classroom ecology so students are willing to answer questions and share some of their stories and thoughts.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR STUDENTS?

I have learned to take risks and give students some responsibility for their own learning. This can be challenging and terrifying to do, but if given the proper tools, they have always exceeded my expectations.

Baranko earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NDSU and is currently working toward her doctorate. Her honors include the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit, Sigma Alpha 2018 Ag Woman of the Year, NDSU Early and Dorothy Foster Excellence in Teaching Award and the NDSU Agriculture Collective Owl Award.

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