2009 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Teaching
David Berle has been a horticulturist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for almost seven years. He brings a wealth of experiences to his classroom from his experiences as a county Extension agent, nursery grower, landscape contractor and horticulturist for both the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the UGA Grounds Department.
His current responsibilities include teaching introductory horticulture, landscape design, GIS applications for landscape managers and Project FOCUS. Berle's introductory horticulture course is so popular, it is offered in two sections every semester and reaches more than 1,200 students per year. To keep a large class of students interested, he has his students enter pumpkin-carving contests, participate in a horticulture pot luck supper, raise a houseplant and be a "professor the day."
Through Project FOCUS, Berle places students with a background in science in K-5 classes to teach science lessons. Project FOCUS is a partnership between the CAES and the Athens-Clark County School District. This service-learning course is taken by more than 150 students. These student-teachers provide more than 6,000 hours of classroom instruction in a subject that is often overlooked due to testing requirements in language arts and math. This Maymester, Berle will be taking Project FOCUS to Costa Rica. There his students will teach both science and English to Costa Rican elementary children.
Berle strives to instill in his students a sense of responsibility to a larger community outside the university. His efforts with service-learning earned Berle the President's Fulfilling the Dream Award in addition to recognition as a Service Learning Scholar with the UGA Office of Service Learning.
He regularly advises more than 30 undergraduate horticulture. Berle's advisees say he takes the extra time to get to know them and help them craft a well-rounded college experience that will prepare them for life after college.