Submitted by Judy Fisher
Rocky Mountain RTP
Ask most people about farms, and they’ll likely tell you about tractors, crops and hardworking animals. But ask Dr. Ed Franklin, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education at the University of Arizona, and get ready to learn about farming’s future—in solar panels.
Ed was a high school teacher in California for 13 years before moving to Arizona and joining the U of A. Ed has participated in many training courses through the SITN grant and taken his newfound knowledge and excitement back to the U of A.
Students in Franklin’s agricultural program are learning how to build and install solar panels, which can be useful on farms for powering things like irrigation. Recently, Ed took a group of his students to a high school in Kayenta, and they made seven different presentations to the kids. They were able to take solar panels and other training materials that the SITN grant has helped the U of A purchase.
“Learning by doing—that’s the motto of agricultural education,” Franklins says. “The more senses you can involve, the more students are going to recall.” That goes for his students as well. You learn things much more thoroughly when you know you’re going to have to explain and teach the concepts to others, as Ed’s students have been doing.
Through this kind of outreach program, the word is spreading on campus and among high school students, teachers and administrators. Student enrollment in the solar courses has increased as more and more U of A students see and hear about the hands on learning opportunities available.
And, hey, let’s face it, Ed’s enthusiasm for solar is not only readily apparent, it’s infectious and he’s spreading it far and wide! In a GOOD way!