Jennifer Cushman, UConn Animal Science Alumni with a master’s in education, recently recognized with an “Outstanding Young Member” award by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. This award is one of six hundred given nationwide by the 8,000 member professional group for agricultural educators. Cushman is currently the head Agri-Science teacher at Glastonbury High School’s Regional Agri-Science and Technology Center. She has been a teacher at Glastonbury since 2008, being her first job in the field that has been transformed into her career.
When asked about her career as an Agri-Science teacher, Cushman sheds light on her student’s accomplishments. An example would be her pointing to a student who is running their own pet-sitting business after completing courses she taught on kennel management and veterinary technology. “There probably aren’t too many teens out there who can say they are trained in animal CPR, and then marketing that,” she said. “It’s not only about learning in the classroom. It’s about the experience outside of school and interacting in the industry.”
She said animals have been her passion since raising chickens, pigs, goats and rabbits in a 4-H program. “I’ve always enjoyed working with animals and children, so it was kind of a natural progression to become a teacher,” she said.
There are 130 full-time students in the Agri-Science program at Glastonbury. Cushman put forth great effort in enhancing the department by revising the curriculum to include guest speakers, updated industry content and hands-on activities. “Jen is a huge asset to our program and has done a wonderful job building upon the program’s success in our community,” fellow teacher Sarah-Jean Oliver said. “The best quality about her is that she is a teacher who truly cares about the success of each student in our program. She treats each student as an individual and goes to great lengths to help them reach their potential.”
Additional outstanding achievements include her classes working with school clubs to package more than 51,000 meals for Kids Against Hunger and have also helped with an adoption event sponsored by the Connecticut Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“Jennifer has been a driving force in propelling the Agri-Science program forward,” said Jill Carey, director of career and technical education. “She maintains an unwavering commitment to quality curriculum, meaningful community service, and continuous professional development.”