Houston Community College-Katy Campus horticulture professor Brenda Anderson has been named Teacher of the Year by the Houston West Chamber of Commerce at its Business Partnership and Teacher of the Year Awards luncheon.
Anderson received the Christa McAuliffe – In Search of Excellence Award for post-secondary teachers. The award was bestowed upon educators in the primary, secondary and post-secondary categories at the Omni Westside Hotel.
Outstanding area teachers, including college faculty, were nominated for awards. The judges selected the winners based on who they felt best exemplified the spirit, energy, enthusiasm and love of learning synonymous with Christa McAuliffe.
Anderson said she was surprised and humbled to receive the award.
“This award is the cumulative effort of a great group of people. I am honored to be a part of HCC and providing a stepping stone for our students to achieve their dreams,” Anderson said. “The horticulture program is a growing and dynamic department that is paving the way for a greener approach to agriculture, enabling our students to become stewards of the natural resources we so dearly value.”
Anderson, who holds a bachelor’s of science degree in animal science and a master’s of science degree in agronomy, has worked for HCC for a year and a half.
As the head of the horticulture department housed at the HCC Katy Campus, Anderson has grown the department to more than 160 students. Additionally, she has created an active Horticulture Club with 45 members and growing to expose students from all disciplines to learning and career opportunities in the industry.
Her implementation of the aquaponics system at the Katy Campus greenhouse is a groundbreaking teaching tool for students. The aquaponics set-up includes a sustainable food production environment in which tilapia are kept in a large tank (aquaculture) connected to a hydroponic (growing plants in water) system.
The hydroponic system receives the by-products from the tilapia, filters the water and then the newly cleaned water is returned back to the tilapia tank. Aquaponics is an emerging trend in the agriculture industry which students are able to experience in a hands-on learning setting at the HCC Katy Campus.
Dr. Zachary Hodges, president of the HCC Spring Branch and Katy campuses, said the aquaponics operation was one of many technologies being introduced to students at HCC.
“A comprehensive horticulture program is one opportunity we at HCC are offering to provide 21st century training for a 21st century workforce,” Hodges said.