Lori Trovato is a long-time student of agriculture and hopes to pass on her enthusiasm for the subject as an agriculture teacher. In an upcoming summer program, she will use education modules that she developed. Lori begins graduate school in the fall.
What is your major? Why did you choose this major? I am a horticulture major. I decided to study horticulture because I attended an agriculture high school, and I had to take classes in all of the different disciplines. I was originally interested in animal science, but I liked the horticulture class the most. When I was 14, I worked for a florist and nursery. My experience working there further fueled my passion for horticulture, and I was certain that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
Name two or three activities, internships or jobs that have enriched your studies. I coached high school plant science students for the CDE (Career Development Event) that UConn has every fall. The floriculture part of the competition involves a written exam, corsage design, 50 plants to identify and a mock display. I also judged the CDE for the floriculture and landscape competitions. When I competed in high school, I was able to make it to nationals and win the gold in the floriculture competition in Kansas City. I am now the assistant super attendant of the eastern states regional CDE event held in Massachusetts.
I was a judge at an FFA competition at E.O. Smith High School. One competition I judged was corsage design. I was able to show the students their strengths and weaknesses and help them learn how to improve. I also judged a speech competition. The other judges and I would tell students to prepare a speech on an assigned agricultural topic. Later, we asked students questions about their topics. This was a way to engage and challenge the students. Being a judge at these competitions was a rewarding applied learning experience.
I had an independent study this past semester where I created plant science education modules. I used the teaching method of cross walking, which is a newer way to put more emphasis on engaging students. Instead of using just PowerPoint presentations in the classroom, this method involves group activities and melds different disciplines together. For example, lessons combine plant science with poetry and public speaking. My education modules were successful; and I have an opportunity to teach a summer program using them.
Which one of these endeavors was the most memorable? Why? My independent study was the most memorable experience for me. I realized that teaching with cross walking is where I want to focus my energies in the future. I was able to branch out and take risks, which was beneficial for me. I have found a way of teaching and doing exercises that is beyond using only PowerPoint, and most of all, I have found potential in myself.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? Surviving chemistry class was the biggest challenge in my time at UConn. I did not do well in such a large classroom, and the amount of math involved was a struggle for me. I was able to get through it but not without a lot of hard work and perseverance.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I am graduating this May and am going on to an accelerated Master’s NEAG program at UConn’s Greater Hartford Campus. It is an eleven-month program, and I will graduate with a teaching certification, specializing in agriculture education. After I graduate, I plan to become a high school agriculture teacher and continue to make education modules. In elementary schools, I want to advocate for the importance of agriculture and teaching for the visual learner, as well as the teaching method of cross walking.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I have the philosophy that kids need to follow their dreams no matter how outside the box they are. They need to keep going and believe that accomplishments are possible. Although life can be overwhelming, anything is possible if you take it one step at a time.