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Deckards Are Dedicated to Teaching

Brenda and Ed Deckard
Brenda and Ed Deckard
Throughout their years of teaching, Ed and Brenda Deckard have consistently focused on helping students succeed at NDSU.

Ed and Brenda Deckard have taught more than 6000 undergraduate students during their more than 60 combined years of working in the Department of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University. They also have created many opportunities for teachers, graduate students, coaches and other student mentors to become better teachers.

The Deckards’ current teaching responsibilities include Plant Sciences (PLSC) 110, World Food Crops; PLSC 312, Expanding the Boundaries of Learning with Service; PLSC 455/655, Cropping Systems: An Integrated Approach; PLSC 755, Advanced Crop Management Decision Making; Agriculture (Agri) 189, Skills for Academic Success; and Agri 150, Agriculture Orientation. Ed also has taught a graduate Communications course, COMM 702, Introduction to College Teaching, and both Ed and Brenda have led workshops for new faculty with teaching responsibilities. In addition to their campus teaching responsibilities, the Deckards are planning their fourth trip to teach World Agriculture Food Security to Chinese students at the China Agricultural University in Beijing, as well as promote NDSU by giving seminars at other Chinese universities.

Ed grew up in southern Indiana on a crop and livestock farm. He received his undergraduate degree in Agronomy from Purdue and his Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He came to NDSU in 1970 to research small grain physiology and teach in the Department of Agronomy. He and Dr. Cal Messersmith shared teaching responsibilities for Agronomy 103 (now PLSC 110) until Messersmith retired in 2007.

Brenda, who grew up in Langdon, ND, graduated from NDSU and worked as a marketing representative for Elanco for 10 years before Messersmith recruited her to assist with lab preparation and teaching. She re-worked lab manuals, materials and multi-media learning tools for the course. She became very interested in researching how people learn, and, as a result of this interest, she earned a M.S. degree in Adult Education at NDSU in 2000.

Ed and Brenda consistently work to effectively reach all students. Brenda says that she saw a need to address the frustrations of students who learn in diverse ways. She says that she wanted to “make learning and teaching successful” by helping others incorporate different learning methodologies into their teaching. She and Ed organized a Teaching Circle, which met biweekly and had regular participants from five colleges in addition to many from Plant Sciences. They also helped other NDSU faculty organize monthly pedagogical luncheons, teaching conferences/workshops on teaching and student engagement, the undergraduate advising resource center, and undergraduate learning communities. Ed likes that the University community has stayed true to the Land Grant model, and allowed community members to “think creatively and use that creativity to develop new learning and teaching opportunities.”

The Learning Center in the lower level of Loftsgard Hall was built under Brenda’s guidance with supplemental grants from industry and private individuals to provide Plant Sciences students a place to engage in learning activities, including computer-assisted learning activities she designed and developed for the PLSC 110 course. The center is “home” to Plant Sciences students, as well as many other students across the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources and the University.

Ed and Brenda have received multiple awards for their teaching and service learning efforts. Most recently, Brenda received the 2014 NDSU Development Foundation Service Learning Award (see and was inducted as an honorary member of the National Residence Hall Honorary. She also has been honored with the NDSU Blue Key Distinguished Educator Award and with membership in the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society in 2008, the 2007 NDSU and North Dakota Agriculture Woman of the Year Award, and the NDSU Gunkelman Award in 1999. Ed’s awards include honorary membership in the Golden Key International Honor Society in 2009, the NDSU Development Foundation Peltier Award for Innovation in Teaching in 2005, the Exemplary Teacher Award from the National Case Study of Learner-Centered Approaches in Colleges of Agriculture in 2004, and the NDSU Development Foundation Odney Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2001.

Ed and Brenda say that the NDSU family is warm and embracing; the students are young adults who are good people, giving and open to new experiences, and this is what sets NDSU apart from other universities.

Contributors: Ed Deckard (701-231-8139,;Brenda Deckard (701-231-9422,
Author: Karen Hertsgaard (701-231-5384, karen.hertsgaard@ndsu)
Editor: Kamie Beeson (701-231-7123,

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