Animal Science Faculty Recognized

Posted: May 24, 2013

  Three Penn State Department of Animal Science faculty members have been recognized by the College of Agricultural Sciences for outstanding undergraduate teaching.    

Dale Olver, instructor in dairy and animal science, is the recipient of the Paul R. and Joan M. Shellenberger Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Olver is involved with teaching, student recruitment and state dairy 4-H programs. He teaches the introductory Animal Science 201 course, once taught by Dr. Shellenberger, coaches the Penn State Dairy Judging Team and co-advises the Dairy Science Club. Olver has contributed to the Dairy Science Club's long history of success, according to Terry Etherton, head of the Animal Science Department, who nominated him for the award. The club has received the annual Outstanding Student Affiliate Chapter Award from the American Dairy Science Association 10 times since 1998. "Dale is a multi-talented, dedicated and hard-working individual who is a remarkably gifted and accomplished teacher," Etherton said. "Our students have the highest respect for him and his advice."

Chad Dechow, associate professor of dairy cattle genetics and W. Burt Staniar, assistant professor or equine science, both received Community of Teaching Excellence awards.

Dechow teaches all or parts of several courses offered by the Department of Animal Science, including Principles of Animal Breeding, Dairy Problem Solving, Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Selection, Dairy Farm Management Systems and Introduction to Dairy Science. "Based on student evaluations and comments, peer evaluations and my own assessment, Chad is a superb teacher," Department Head Terry Etherton said. "He exemplifies the spirit of excellence in teaching by actively involving undergraduate students in a variety of academic programs and opportunities." Etherton also cited Dechow's work in co-advising student clubs and the Penn State Dairy Judging Team. "He is well prepared, terrific in communicating with students and has a wonderful knack for engaging students, both in the classroom and after class."

Staniar, Etherton said, "is a remarkable young faculty member who is incredibly passionate about teaching." He credits Staniar with energizing the department's undergraduate equine science teaching program. In particular, he points to Staniar's success in creating the Penn State Equine Research Team, an initiative designed to provide opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research projects. "Now a formally approved undergraduate student organization at Penn State, the team has grown from seven members in the spring of 2008 to about 60 members," Etherton said. "Some of the students on the team have been co-authors of papers published in the peer-reviewed literature as well as abstracts presented at various national meetings.  "The team has been very effective for recruiting students in the Animal Science major and the Equine Science minor," he said.