Teaching & Learning

USU Agricultural Education Faculty Honored for Efforts in Career and Technical Education

By Ysabel Nehring |

Faculty members Michael Pate and Rebecca Lawver and USU's Department of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education all recently won awards from the Utah Association for Career and Technical Education.

At its Mid-Winter Conference, the Utah Association for Career and Technical Education acknowledged Utah State University’s excellence in preparing outstanding teachers who provide their students with tools and opportunities to develop important technical and career skills.

Professor Rebecca Lawver and Associate Professor Michael Pate from USU’s Department of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education (ASTE) were recognized during the conference for their efforts in teaching junior high and high school educators in career and technical education (CTE) fields such as agriculture, family and consumer sciences, business and engineering. Also at the statewide conference, the ASTE Department was named the 2022 CTE Champion of the Year.

Universities and colleges have placed increased emphasis on CTE programs in the past few years, thanks in large part to a growing workforce in need of higher quality training and preparation. Employers are more likely to expect entry-level workers to have experience and skills working within the field.

By training junior and high school teachers in CTE fields, the ASTE faculty helps prepare Utah youth to enter the workforce with competitive skills. The ASTE faculty advocates for CTE education and training and has helped expand these options to support Utah’s economy. The ASTE department also provides opportunities for current teachers to further their education by offering master’s and doctoral degree programs in career and technical education.

According to acteonline.org, “the Association for Career and Technical Education is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for careers.”

Lawver, who has served as the ASTE department head since 2020, was named the Postsecondary Educator of the Year. Lawver’s research interests focus on the human interactions between the science of agriculture and society, effective teaching and engaged learning and professional development. Agricultural education is much broader than most people recognize and includes developing many STEM skills that apply directly to careers. Lawver sees her role as preparing leaders and teachers for successful careers and helping her students understand the interconnectedness and potential of people they will teach and influence.

Pate received the Teacher Educator of the Year award for his “dedication and innovation in teacher education, leadership in improving CTE, and commitment to preparing teachers to deliver high-quality CTE programs.”

Part of preparing people to teach agriculture and CTE courses in secondary schools includes learning best practices for supervising students’ work experiences outside school. Such projects are a common part of education beyond the classroom. Pate has focused his career on safety education, reflected by recent funding of his research on farm safety from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and his appointment as president of the International Society for Agricultural Health and Safety (ISASH).

By receiving the awards at the state level, Lawver, Pate, and the ASTE department will also be considered for the same awards at the regional and national levels from the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Brian Warnick, associate dean for academic programs and student services in the USU College of Agriculture and Applied Science works closely with the awardees and is a professor in the department.

“These recognitions are well deserved and represent a solid commitment to the preparation of excellent teachers and to the continued education of these teachers through graduate programs and professional development opportunities,” said Warnick. “Drs. Sorensen, Pate, and Lawver are highly respected by the agriculture teachers in Utah and these honors represent that high level of respect and appreciation.”

Visit aste.usu.edu to learn more about programs offered in the department.


Ysabel Nehring


Rebecca Lawver
Professor and Department Head
Applied Sciences, Technology and Education

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