“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William
Butler Yeats

What led you to where you are today?  Chances are someone or something, somewhere,
influenced you to make a series of life choices that have led you to where you
are today.  For some, it is a high school
class that inspires them to pursue their career.  For me it was an after school job during high
school.  One persons’ desire to grow
tomatoes during the winter in North Central Kansas ultimately led me to pursue
a PhD in plant science. 

At some point in your professional career you’ll most
likely be asked to speak in front of an audience.  Speaking engagements for industry
professionals are generally reserved for industry trade shows and
conferences.  Sometimes, we’re invited to
speak to a group of college students during what is formally known as “seminar”.  Informally, it is known as nap-time! 

What if you could make a potentially long-lasting
impression to a younger demographic?  One
where the majority of the audience chooses a high tech career during their
middle or high school years?  And you
could do this without leaving your office. 
Enter, Nepris…

What is Nepris?  Technically, Nepris is “an online platform
that makes it easier for teachers to connect with industry experts to bring the
real world to the classroom.”  According
to their website “57% of boys and 68% of girls who chose a high tech career say
they were inspired by one person, or one event, or one class during the middle
or high school years (STEM Perceptions study by Microsoft).  What is STEM? STEM is an acronym for Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. 
You can learn more about STEM, here.

Basically, the Nepris platform allows educators to post a
curriculum topic to the Nepris platform and then assists by finding an industry
expert to show and tell how that topic is applied in practice.  Industry experts must also create an
account.  The process is simple and there
are plenty of tools to help you build your presentation framework.  I should also stress that the team at Nepris
is VERY helpful.

In January, Hort Americas (yours truly) was given the
opportunity to engage high school students of an advanced biotechnology class in
TX.  The students are working on individual
class projects and many of them chose the topic of hydroponics.  Their teacher knew little about the subject
of hydroponics and elected to utilize Nepris to help the students learn from an
industry expert. The presentation title (selected by the teacher) was “Growing
Crops with Hydroponics”.  The process was
very simple.  I created my online
account, found the topic, read the description and signed up as the
speaker.  There were a few dates and
times to choose from, so I selected the one that best fit my busy
schedule.  The Nepris team reached out to
me immediately and we set aside 30 minutes to go over the process and content
of the presentation and that was it until the day of the presentation.  When the day of the presentation arrived, I
logged into my account 10 minutes early, made introductions and gave the
presentation.  This particular class
repeats, so students can remain enrolled in the class over multiple semesters.
This means that some of the experiments may continue over a longer period of
time.  I offered my knowledge and
services to the class, so there is the potential of creating a long-lasting
impact on some of the students.  Who
knows, perhaps one of them will become one of our industry’s next leaders.  You never know. 

So what’s the point? 
OUTREACH!  Participating in this
platform allows us to tell our story to more people.  It also allows us to explain the breadth of
our industry.  Think about it, greenhouse
agriculture has it all. Not only does it include STEM, but it also includes
business, sales, marketing, architecture, nutrition, culinary arts and so
on.  If you’re interested please check
out the Nepris website and
create an account.  Then find a
presentation, tell students how cool your job is and expose them to the “real

Article written by Hort America’s Technical manager, Dr. Johann Buck. 

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