Hannah H. Scherer
The purpose of my integrated program of research, teaching, and extension in STEM education is to advance education that supports the use of systems thinking to address complex, real-world problems; is informed by current education research; and attends to issues of equity, justice, and culture. My integrated program crosses disciplinary boundaries. My work is situated in and contributes to interdisciplinary, multi-institutional efforts in Earth science, sustainability, and agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR) education.
My current scholarly efforts are focused on the food-energy-water (FEW)-Nexus as a novel conceptual space in which to explore models for innovative STEM education that support systems thinking. I am working on building and sustaining a transdisciplinary community, the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW) as the Director of this NSF-funded Research Coordination Network. I am using the FEW-Nexus to inform programming in my current funded projects.
Westfall-Rudd, D., Drape, T., Scherer, H. H. (Co-PD, 2%), Rudd, R., Ealy, A., Haak, D., Lahne, J., Barone, J. (November 2021-October 2025). Professional Development for Agricultural Literacy (PDAL) Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. Engaging Secondary Teachers in CALS Research for Agricultural Literacy. Funded for $500,000.
Scherer, H. H. (PI, 50%), Azano, A. (February 2022-June 2025). Virginia Tech Community Viability Matching Grants Program. Enhancing Community Viability by Cultivating Rural Talent: Promoting Community-Based Literacies and Systems Thinking. Funded for $50,000.
Scherer, H. H. (PI, VT 100%, overall project 40%), Sintov, N., Wang, H. (May 2022-August 2024). ECR-EHR Core Research, INFEWS Track 3 Grant, National Science Foundation. Cultivating a National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW). Funded for $749,694.
Past Grants (selected)
Scherer, H. H. (PD, 40%), Duncan, S, Vines, K., Westfall-Rudd, D., Bonnett, E., Simpson, J. (September 2020-August 2023). Women and Minorities in STEM (WAMS) Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. Initiating the rural cyberbiosecurity workforce pipeline through empowering agricultural educators and supporting middle school girls. Funded for $99,577.
Crowder, L. V, (PI), Archibald, T., Rudd, R., Scherer, H. H. (Technical Assistance, 5%). (November 2017-November 2022). US Agency for International Development. Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture. Funded for $4,000,000.
Scherer, H. H. (PD, 40%), Ziegler, P., Friedel, C., Westfall-Rudd, D. (February 2017-May 2021). Higher Education Challenge Grant Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. Sustainability Scholars Program: Increasing Underrepresented Student Success Through Experiential Learning. Funded for $139,604. [This project addresses broadening participation of underrepresented groups (underrepresented minority and first-generation college students) within sustainability-focused academic programs.]
Scherer, H. H. (PD, 67%), Webb, R., Rasco, R., Surrat, J. (September 2016-August 2020). Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom (SPECA) Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. Building a Model Experiential-based Agricultural Food Safety Program for the 21st Century. Funded for $135,560.
Scherer, H. H. (Project lead, 100%). (May 2017-December 2017). CIDER Instructional Enhancement, Innovation and Exploration Grant. Systems Thinking in AFNR Educational Contexts: An integrated research and teaching project. Funded for $1,954.
Scherer, H. H. (PI, 90%), Jamison, K. (September 2014-August 2016). VT Foundation Community Viability Fund Grant. Graduate extension scholars pilot program: preparing the next generation of agricultural scientists to engage in quality outreach. Funded for $44,000.
Scherer, H. H. (PI, 60%), Seibel, A., Crisman, C., Pratt, P., Winston, D. (January 2013-May 2014). VT College of Agriculture and Life Science Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program Virginia Tech. Establishment of a State Agriscience Fair to Build STEM Research Capacity in Virginia’s Youth. Funded for $25,000.
Papers in refereed journals
Scherer, H. H., O’Rourke, M., Seman-Varner, R.*, & Ziegler, P. (2020). Coteaching in higher education: A case study of instructor learning. Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education, 3(1), 15-29. Retrieved from https://jethe.org/index.php/jethe/article/view/37
Scherer, H. H., McKim, A. J., Wang, H.-H., DiBenedetto, C. A., & Robinson, K.* (2019). Making sense of the buzz: A systematic review of “STEM” in agriculture, food, and natural resources education literature. Journal of Agricultural Education, 60(2), 28-53. doi:10.5032/jae.2019.02028
Scherer, H. H., Wilk, A. A.*, Wiley, S.*, Spindler, M., & Archibald, T. (2018). The Graduate Extension Scholars Program: Professional development to connect research and education. Journal of Extension, 56(6), 6RIB2.
Scherer, H. H., Holder, L., & Herbert, B. E. (2017). Student learning of complex Earth systems: Conceptual frameworks of Earth systems and instructional design. Journal of Geoscience Education, 65(4), 473-489. doi:10.5408/16-208.1
Holder, L., Scherer, H. H., & Herbert, B. E. (2017). Student learning of complex Earth systems: A model to guide development of student expertise in problem solving. Journal of Geoscience Education, 65(4), 490-505. doi:10.5408/17-261.1
Refereed Book Chapters
Fortner, S., Scherer, H. H., Diaz, M. A., Brown, K. L., Fadem, C. M., Neaz, C. A., Latimer, J. C., Ebanks, S. C., & Landsbergen, K. J. (in press). The Metal Redlining Network: Coproducing Research with Students and Community Partners to Advance Environmental Justice Outcomes. In L. A. Van Egeren & S. Renoe (Eds.), The Handbook of Broader Impacts. Michigan State University Press.
Fortner, S. K., Scherer, H. H., & Ritter, J. B. (2020). Community engagement in the earth sciences: a situated learning model at Wittenberg University. In A. Zimmermann (Ed.), Preparing Students for Community-Engaged Scholarship in Higher Education (pp. 361-378). IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-2208-0.ch018
Conference Papers and Presentations
Smilnak, D., Scherer, H. H., Vines, K., Westfall-Rudd, D., Simpson, J., & Drape, T. (2023). Participatory Program Development: Addressing the Gender Gap in Agriculture and STEM [Oral Presentation]. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture National Conference, Las Cruces, NM.
Scherer, H. H., Alfonso, C., McGraw, C., Norris, M., Otieno, D., & Owen, K. (2022, February). Developing Systems Thinkers: Strategies for Effective Instructional Design. Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy, Blacksburg, VA.
Scherer, H. H., Sintov, N., Wang, H.-H., & Forbes, C. T. (2021, July). The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus as a Framework for Advancing Education and Education Research Earth Educators' Rendezvous, Virtual. https://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2021/program/talks/session6/242646.html
Scherer, H. H. (2020). Leveraging InTeGrate community expertise, products, and processes within synergistic efforts toward advancing NC-FEW goals [Invited]. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 52(6). https://doi.org/10.1130/abs/2020AM-354674
Wilson, J. L., Ziegler, P., & Scherer, H. H. (2021, February). Strategies for Integrating Service Learning Outcomes with Course Curriculum. Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy, Virtual.
Scherer, H., Rowell, J., Harris, K., & Drape, T. (2020, May). Faculty Participation in a Mentoring-Focused Community of Practice. Paper presented at the National Meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education, Virtual Conference.
Scherer, H. H. (2020, February). Inviting Students to the Table: Negotiating Power in Course Design. Practice session presented at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy, Blacksburg, VA.
Kebe, F., Scherer, H. H., Archibald, T., & Guisse, B. (2020, February). 4-H Senegal STEM curriculum framework: promoting inquiry & innovation in the face of climate change. Oral presentation at Global Learning in Agriculture, Virtual Conference. https://sites.psu.edu/glag20/thursday-feb-6/
Brown, A., Scherer, H. H., Niewolny, K., & Graves, E. (2020). Reframing AgriCULTURAL Experiences and Narratives for African American Youth: A Study of Community-based Program Leaders' Perspectives. Paper presented at the National Meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education, Virtual Conference.
Scherer, H. H., & Westfall-Rudd, D. M. (2019, June). CALS faculty perspectives on mentoring underrepresented minority students in research. NACTA Journal Abstracts, 63(Supplement 1), 25.
Steger, D., Webb, R., Rasco, R., & Scherer, H. H. (2019, June). Connecting STEM and Food Safety Through an Agricultural Biotechnology Program. NACTA Journal, 63(Supplement 1), 64.
Scherer, H. H., Harris, K., Ziegler, P., Friedel, C., Westfall-Rudd, D. M., & Drape, T. (2019, June). The Sustainability Scholars Program: Early Successes from the Pilot Year. NACTA Journal, 63(Supplement 1), 95.
Marx, A. A., Sandlin, M. R. R., Rodriguez, M. T., & Scherer, H. H. (2018). Social Change Movements and Agricultural Education: Offering an Alternative Lens and Framework for Our Future. Paper presented at the National Meeting of the American Association of Agricultural Educators, Charleston, SC.
Fortner, S., Scherer, H., & Murphy, M. (2017, October). Helping Students Advocate for the Earth Using Integrate Modules [Invited]. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 49(6). doi:10.1130/abs/2017AM-298722
Hanselman, J., Scherer, H. H., Donovan, S., & Hale, A. (2016, July). Adapting geoscience materials for introductory biology courses using the Faculty Mentoring Network. Oral presentation at the Earth Educators' Rendezvous, Madison, WI. https://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2016/program/talks/mondayB/136530.html
Scherer, H. H. (2015). What does Ag-STEM mean for me? Perceptions of teachers and 4-H agents. Paper presented at the annual international conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Chicago, IL.
Scherer, H. H. & Landis, R. (2014, May). Establishment of a new state agriscience research contest: a collaborative effort between FFA and 4-H. Poster presented at the National meeting of the American Association for Agricultural Education, Salt Lake City, UT.
My primary responsibilities as an Extension Specialist are to maintain and advance a focused program of STEM education in non-formal (4-H) and formal agricultural education settings. The primary clientele for my extension program are in-service educators who serve school-aged youth in agriculture-related programs. I also engage Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students through providing leadership and training for campus-based outreach initiatives.
- Superintendent, 4-H and FFA Agriscience Research Poster Contest, State Fair of VA
- Superintendent, Virginia FFA Agriscience Fair Contest
- Member, Positive Youth Development Program Team, Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Member/Chair, STEM Subteam of Positive Youth Development Program Team, Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Workshop Presenter, Virginia Association of Agricultural Educators Professional Development Conferences
- Workshop Presenter, Hillison Early Career Agriculture Teacher's Conferences
- Workshop Presenter, Virginia Cooperative Extension Professional Development Conference
- Coordinator, Virginia Tech Fall Teach Ag Workshops
Outreach and extension publications
Smilnak, David, and Hannah H. Scherer, eds. (2023). Agricultural Cyberbiosecurity Education Resource Collection. Blacksburg: Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. https://doi.org/10.21061/cyberbiosecurity. Licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
MARS Basecamp 4-H STEM Challenge Kit. I was a member of the Virginia Cooperative Extension team, led by Erika Bonnett (PI) and Chantel Wilson (co-PI), that developed the 2020 kit. This project was funded by a $50,000 grant to Virginia 4-H from National 4-H Council. The full kit and downloadable facilitator and youth guides are available at https://4-h.org/programs/stem-challenge/mars-base-camp/
Scherer, H. H., Forbes, C. T., Sintov, N., & Wang, H.-H. (2020). The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus: A new way to help students think about resource management in AFNR education. The Agricultural Education Magazine, 92(5), 5-8.
Webb, R., Rasco, R., Steger, D., & Scherer, H. H. (2020). Students Discover Career Ready Skills Through Biotechnology. The Agricultural Education Magazine, 93(1), 45-48. https://www.naae.org/profdevelopment/magazine/archive_issues/
VCE PYD STEM Webpage (https://ext.vt.edu/4h-youth/stem.html). Developed in collaboration with the VCE PYD STEM Subteam. Website includes sections for:
- Computational Thinking
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Design Thinking
- Science Process Skills
- Science in Practice
McKay, S., Carr, K., Rothwell, M., Wiley, S.*, & Scherer, H. H. (2019). Understanding Business Structures, Markets, and Risk Management Strategies (ALCE-177P). Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Cooperative Extension. Resource developed through the Graduate Extension Scholars program.
Barrowclough, M., Rhudy, M. K., Peek, C., Wiley, S.*, & Scherer, H. H. (2018). Understanding and Developing an Agribusiness (ALCE-176P). Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Cooperative Extension. Resource developed through the Graduate Extension Scholars program.
Wiley, S.*, & Scherer, H. H. (2017). Competition Guide: 4-H and FFA Agriscience Research Poster Contest at the State Fair of Virginia (AEE-167NP). Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Cooperative Extension.
ALCE 5704: Systems Thinking Pedagogy and Praxis
- Strategies promoting systems thinking in formal and non-formal educational and community contexts. Instructional design for developing systems thinkers. Systems approaches to understanding problematic situations and creating change using agricultural, community-based, and extension education examples. Foundational complex systems concepts and systems thinking perspectives for social and socio-ecological systems.
- Developed new course; approved by university governance in 2021
- Teach every Fall semester
ALCE 5054: STEM Integration in Agricultural Education
- Contemporary methods, strategies, and justification for incorporation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts and practices into secondary agricultural education programs. Use of best practices for STEM teaching and learning and enhancement of STEM content in existing agriculture courses.
- Developed new course; approved by university governance in 2012
- Teach alternate (even) Spring semesters, asynchronous online only
ALCE 4244: Teaching and Training Methods in Agricultural and Life Sciences
- Survey of strategies for design, implementation, and evaluation of instruction and training practices in agricultural and life sciences.
- Co-teach with ALCE faculty every Spring semester
ALCE 4064: Ag Mechanical Laboratory Management
- Plan, organize, and manage secondary school mechanics laboratories. Management of the instructional program, facility, equipment, inventory, safety, liability, personnel, material control, and student customer work.
- Lead instructor; Co-teach with ALCE faculty every Spring semester
Higher Education Resources Developed
Scherer, H. H. (2020). Inviting Students to the Table: Negotiating Power in Course Design. College STAR Faculty Development Modules & Case Studies. Retrieved from https://ofe.ecu.edu/udlmodules/modules/inviting-students-to-the-table-negotiating-power-in-course-design/
Scherer H. H. (2015). Teaching Systems Thinking. Developing Effective InTeGrate Teaching Materials Resource Collection. Retrieved from http://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/info_team_members/currdev/effective_materials/systems_think.html
Fortner, S., Murphy, M. & Scherer, H. H. (2014). A Growing Concern: Sustaining soil resources through local decision making. InTeGrate General Education Course Materials Collection. Six-unit teaching module. Retrieved from http://serc.carleton.edu/integrate/teaching_materials/sustain_agriculture/index.html
Graduate students in my research group address questions of practice in formal and non-formal educational spaces.
ALCE (on-campus program) Advisees
- Arogeanae (Nae Nae) Brown, Ph.D. Student, Dissertation topic: African-American GrassROOTED in Community-Based Organizing
- Kendrick (Kenny) Spencer, Ph.D. Student, Dissertation topic: Use of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in School-based Agricultural Education
- Carolyn McGraw, M.S. Student, Thesis topic: Case study of perceived positive youth development inputs and outcomes in 4-H dog programs as identified by 4-H members, parents, leaders and agents
- Kayla Harris, Ph.D. Student, Dissertation topic: Undergraduate African American student experiences at Historically/Predominately White Land Grant Institutions and Universities
OMALS (part-time professional online program) Advisees
- Lindsey Baber, Agriscience Teacher
- Meagan Dyer, 4-H Agent
- Emmily Hines, Agriscience Teacher
ALCE M.S. Theses and Dissertations Chaired (Advisees)
- Kebe, F. (2022). Positive Influences and Educational Practices in the STEM Learning Ecosystem: An Asset-Based, Multi-Case Exploration of Non-Formal Youth Education in Senegal. Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/113377
- Wilson, J. (2022). Towards culturally relevant 4-H agriculture programming for urban youth: Identifying potential design principles and outcomes. Master’s Thesis, Virginia Tech. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/108322
- Rowell, J. (2020). Using Hip Hop to Explore Minority Youths' Critical Consciousness of the Food System. Master’s Thesis, Virginia Tech. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/98731
- Harris, K. (2019). "Care and authenticity is something that I was seeking": Mentoring experiences of African American undergraduate students studying agriculture at an 1862 Land Grant Institution. Master’s Thesis, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/90798
- Brown, A. (2018). Reframing AgriCULTURAL Experiences, Narratives, and Careers for African American Youth: A Study of Community-based Program Leaders’ Motivations and Educational Space. Master’s Thesis, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/84495
- Steger, D. (2018). Understanding the Innovation of Utilizing Universal Design for Learning in Integrated STEM Classrooms by Early Adopters. Master’s Thesis, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/86519
- Wiley, S. (2018). Professional Learning in Cooperative Extension: Understanding Opportunities for Social Learning and the use of Computer Mediated Technologies. Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/85862
- Silas, M. A. (2016). Improving the Pipeline for Students of Color at 1862 Colleges of Agriculture: A Qualitative Study that Examines Administrators’ Perceptions of Diversity, Barriers, and Strategies for Success. Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/73607
OMALS M.S. Projects (non-thesis) Chaired (Advisees)
- Harvey, A (2022). A Survey for Shady Spring High School to Determine the Importance of Workplace Readiness in Floriculture and Horticulture Classes. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/113089
- Wright, C. (2021). Creating a Universal 4-H Non-Ownership Livestock Project Record Book to Capture Impacts of Increased Agriculture Literacy and Life Skill Development. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/103235
- Thacker, R. (2020). Online course development to support adult learning of landscaping design principles to improve the curb appeal of a home. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/99689
- Makufka, C. (2019). Evaluation instrument use for camp practitioners: A review of evaluation instruments for a one-week or short-term residential camp context. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/96809
- Walden, A. (2019). Conducting an Outcome Evaluation of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Kids’ Marketplace Curriculum. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/93051
- Curry, A. (2017). Using School Compost Programs to Incorporate Workplace Readiness Skills into Agricultural Education Curriculum. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/78307
- Rose, K. (2017). Developing an “Attitude of Gratitude”: 4-H School Enrichment for Youth in 4th and 5th Grades. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/78306
- Nagurny, S. (2016). Virginia 4-H Food Challenge Curriculum Evaluation. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/74323
- Sponaugle, K. (2016). Growth of Bath County 4-H Programming through Adult Volunteer Training. Online Master of Agriculture and Life Science Program (OMALS) Project Report, Virginia Tech. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/74325
B.A., Geology with Physics Core Concentration, 2000, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota
Ph.D., Geological and Environmental Sciences, 2006, Stanford University, Stanford, CA