Xenia Morin, associate teaching professor in the Department of Plant Biology and undergraduate program director of Agriculture and Food Systems, was named the 2022 Teacher of the Year by the Rutgers Chapter of the Fraternity of Alpha Zeta, the national honor and service fraternity for agriculture and environmental studies.
Her teaching style embraces active learning strategies that engage students and allow them to create community within the classes she teaches in the agriculture and food systems, the seminar, “Feeding the World,” in the SEBS honors program and as well as additional courses she teaches at SEBS.
“I truly love my role here at Rutgers. I strive to make a difference, however small, in the lives of each student I have had the privilege to meet. It is serving them well and watching them thrive that gives me joy,” said Morin, who was honored at SEBS Convocation.
The award was named in memory of Barbara Munson Goff, former director of the Cook General Honors Program and an Alpha Zeta alumna, who was an extraordinary teacher and mentor at the school. The award reflects the high standards of teaching exemplified by Dr. Goff and the qualities of leadership, character, and service that are synonymous with the ideals of the fraternity.
Alpha Zeta wrote, “We truly appreciate your dedication, enthusiasm, and passion in your classes and as a mentor; you serve as an inspiration for your students,” in naming Morin for this annual teaching honor and capturing the essence of her impact in the lives of her students.
During the pandemic, Morin created the Agriculture and Food Systems monthly Social Zoom meetings that brought together students, program alumni, faculty and staff. For those students that started during the pandemic, this was a very successful way for them to meet others and get to know what was possible in the Ag and Food Systems major.
A 2019 SEBS Teaching Excellence Award recipient, Morin has developed a successful careers course and is currently serving on the advisory board to Rutgers Career Exploration and Success, where she’s helped to develop and present workshops that have reached hundreds of students.
“I work hard to tailor students’ educational and experiential programs so they can find their future career paths,” she said.
In 2019, she helped to launch a new course, “Developing Ideas in Teaching Agriculture and Food Systems,” along with a new major in Agricultural Science Education.
In Spring 2020, she co-taught an embedded study abroad course, “Tropical Environments and Society,” which includes a study abroad trip to Costa Rica to perform field work. Co-teachers of the course include Ben Lintner, professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences; Laura Schneider, professor in the Department of Geography, School of Arts and Sciences; and Lena Struwe, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and Department of Plant Biology.
“The Costa Rica trip was originally scheduled for March 2020 so it was even more special this year. It was a dream to take students to Costa Rica to explore agriculture and the biodiversity of the rainforest. I am grateful to the fabulous students and to my SEBS faculty colleagues Lena Struwe, Chloe Hawkings, assistant professor and Undergraduate Program Director in the Department of Entomology and 2021 Teacher of the Year winner; and SAS faculty colleague Laura Schneider, for making this dream come true.”
She helped develop a new i.d.e.a. Byrne seminar, which reached students beyond SEBS, with SEBS faculty members Josh Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and Jim Simon, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Biology.
“There are so many great teachers here at Rutgers, I feel truly honored to be selected for the Barbara Munson Goff Teacher of the Year Award.”