Fifth Grade Career Fair
Graduate students Joey DeShields and David Wheeler, along with plant diagnostician Rachel Bomberger, traveled to the Spokane Convention Center to speak with 2600 Spokane School District fifth graders about careers in plant pathology. “It was a fun time to introduce students to our passion and career choice, with the hopes that one day they will decide to lend their talents to our profession” said Bomberger. Students who visited the booth got to look at fire blight in an apple wood; rust on barley; spotted winged drosophila; the mycelium and fruiting body of the quinine conk, Fomitopsis officinalis; the fruiting body of the red paint fungus , Echinodontium tinctorium; Asian Long horned beetles, larva, and galleries; Emerald Ash Borer; and Armillaria rhizomorphs. Wheeler enjoyed the shear diversity of students and their varied interests and took the time to talk to the students about the role of science in discovery, exploration, and problem solving. Wheeler also came away with an appreciation of the next generation and took the career fair as an opportunity to practice effectively communicating complex topics in a busy environment. Trifold displays told stories of plant diseases’ impact on the world and conveyed the message that plants get sick just like humans. Also highlighted was the diversity of subjects utilized by Plant Pathologists to show the integrative nature of the discipline along with some of the technologies used by plant pathologist to solve plant disease problems, complete with replicas of culture and 96-welled plates. DeShield’s favorite part of the fair was how interested and engaged the students were toward science. “Their sincere curiosity and willingness to learn something new is what made the event as successful as it was,” says Desheilds. Students were able to play games where they could use a dichotomous key to figure out what plant pathogen they were based on their personality and try to identify which common items did not contain a fungus. Interested students got to talk about how diseases can affect the landscapes they love and their favorite foods. Bomberger says she wanted to show the students that they see plant disease every day and that by becoming plant pathologists they can protect those plants and help feed the world. Spokane School District Fifth Grade Career Fair is part of the district’s T-2-4 goal to ensure that their students are “ready, in, and through” post-secondary education such as a Technical, 2-year, or 4-year form of education (T-2-4).