Ken Van Rees
Master Teacher Award - Fall 2011
Dr. Ken Van Rees is a Professor in the Department of Soil Science and is an outstanding teacher who is highly valued by his students and colleagues. The core of Dr. Van Rees approach to teaching is experiential teaching and learning. He accomplishes this through his field courses such as Soils and Boreal Forest Landscapes, field trips in Forest Soils, hands-on experiences in his graduate course Soil Plant Relations, and his highly innovative field/studio course, Ecosystems and Art.
The field experiences that Dr. Van Rees provides in his courses are extraordinarily popular with his students – they inculcate in students a sense of the tremendous enjoyment that field research can bring, as well as a deeper sense of the travails that are also a part of any field experience. The creation of a positive field experience does not occur by chance, and Dr. Van Rees spends countless hours planning trips, revising materials, and visiting field sites to put in place the logistics for a successful learning experience.
Dr. Van Rees personifies the concept of a Master teacher. His superior teaching is well known by students and colleagues; his teaching is grounded in his own research; and he excels in proficient and innovative pedagogy. He has contributed to the teaching activities and responsibilities of the University as a whole, especially through his ceaseless efforts to ensure that the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus continues to serve its key role in experiential education.
Dr. Van Rees is truly dedicated to his students and to the craft of innovative teaching. There is ample evidence that Dr. Van Rees has achieved a very high standard of teaching. In 2001, 2008, 2009, and 2010 he was nominated for the Agriculture Students association Professor of the Year Award. In 2006 he received a USSU Teaching Award of Excellence. In 2008, he received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award. More recently, he received the Provost’s College Award for Outstanding Teacher in 2010 and in 2011, the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Innovation in Learning.
Additional evidence that Dr. Van Rees has achieved a very high standard of teaching can be found in consistently positive student evaluations. Students have reported “This is the best class of my entire educational career!” and “Most amazing course I have ever taken.” One of his students wrote “Prof. Van Rees made every class enjoyable by showing specific real-life examples and asking many questions so that students were engaged and could relate to everything he taught us. I always felt comfortable asking questions in his class and he was always approachable and encouraging in his answers.”
Dr. Van Rees is truly deserving of the Master Teacher Award.