Caley Gasch brings enthusiasm, engagement and hands-on learning to her classes. She joined the NDSU faculty in 2016, and teaches Soil Ecology and Advanced Soil Nutrient Cycling.
Her research and expertise focus on management strategies that promote healthy soils. A key element to her work is understanding how living components in soil are part of an ecosystem that influences the soil’s properties
WHY IS TEACHING IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Throughout my education, I've had some outstanding instructors who really shaped who I am as a scientist and a scholar. Their effort and passion made an impact — it enhanced my education and motivated me to learn more. It takes work to create a positive learning environment like that, and I think those instructors inspired me to gain knowledge. They're still inspiring me to share knowledge in a way that is fun and engaging. Teaching is important to me because I want everyone to enjoy learning, like I did.
HOW DO YOU ENHANCE THE NDSU EXPERIENCE FOR STUDENTS?
I try to make the content in my classes relatable and memorable. We often talk about microscopic organisms, invisible processes and a lot of chemistry – concepts that can be difficult to understand and remember because we don’t interact with the world at the microscopic or molecular level. I love coming up with analogies and demonstrations for natural processes that help us understand them. I’m a very visual learner, so I love the demonstrations; and we all eat food, so food analogies are common in my classes. We also often discuss how something invisible relates to something that we do see and experience.
I teach a lot of future agriculture practitioners, so I’m always asking students about their observations and experiences, and then we explore how those experiences might be explained by a molecular process. I think these approaches make microbiology and chemistry much easier to understand and appreciate.
HOW DO YOU TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN STUDENTS’ LIVES?
I hope that I’m equipping students with the knowledge that they need, and knowledge that they can use once they move on from NDSU. If they only remember and apply a few things that they learn in my classes, I consider it a success.