Landscape Horticulturist Instructor with Students

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Landscape Horticulturist Instructor Receives Top Instructor Provincial Award

Landscape Horticulturist Instructor with StudentsOlds College Landscape Horticulturist instructor Elizabeth Kawahara has been named as recipient of The Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board Top Instructor Award for the southern Alberta region by Alberta Advanced Education.

The award is presented to instructors of apprenticeship classes at Alberta technical training institutions who display a positive impact on the success of individual apprentices. Two Top Instructor Awards are presented annually, one for northern Alberta and one for southern Alberta.  Kawahara has been named the south region award recipient for 2017. The criteria for this award include performing beyond the requirements of the average instructor, displaying excellent presentation skills, and being fair, friendly, and firm with students.

“Elizabeth has been an exceptional instructor since the day she started,” explains Dan Daley, Dean of Trades at Olds College. “She is an expert in the course material she teaches, but being a great instructor involves much more than that. Her passion for landscaping comes through in her teaching and helps to keep students motivated and hungry for knowledge.”

Kawahara began teaching at Olds College in 2014, and arrived with no prior teaching experience.  Her expertise and outgoing personality made her a natural fit into the role of instructor, despite feeling overwhelmed in her first teaching position. She dedicates much of her success to her co-workers, and to her passion for continued learning.

“Every staff member of the Olds College Land Science building has contributed in some way to the quality of my classes,” she explains. “It’s humbling to be recognized in this way, and I believe that any success I enjoy as an instructor is a reflection on the community of colleagues that surround me. I find myself continually learning from the experience and expertise of the people around me, and I rely heavily on the technology experts on campus to help me produce classroom materials that keep the students interested.”

Outside of the classroom, Kawahara keeps busy with her landscape design and installation company, which she has operated for 5 years. Staying active working in the industry gives her a wide variety of experiences every year, including residential landscape work such as design consulting, hardscape installation of patios, walkways and retaining walls, softscape installation of sod, trees, and other perennial and annual plants. She also has previous experience in greenhouse production and commercial installations. She brings this expertise into her Turf, Greenhouse Production, Plant Identification and Landscape Design classes, where she shares her experience with students.

“I think the best thing about teaching is the continued learning,” she declares. “I try to encourage interaction in the classroom, which helps students use their experience and theories to determine why we do what we do. This helps the students learn, and it helps me learn from them as well.”

The Top Instructor Award selection process begins with a strong nomination from student(s). Based on passion and professionalism of the Trade and instilling that passion professionalism and knowledge on to her students.

Elizabeth does not know who nominated her but is honored and humbled by the recognition given to her by the students. Her commitment to passing on her knowledge and experiences to her students has always been award enough but to be nominated by her students in this way came as a surprise and an honour.