Fresno State plant science professor Dr. Anil Shrestha was recently honored with the Weed Science Society of America’s Outstanding Teacher Award at its national conference Feb. 9 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Before teaching, he spent years doing agricultural research.
“I think my experience with research gave me the skills for the applied, practical side of what this education means,” Shrestha said. “I was able to bring that into the classroom.”
The professor has taken classes out to Fresno State’s farms, advised students on research and taken students along to conferences.
“It’s not just memorization of facts from a textbook — it helps them see something in the real world,” Shrestha said. “They can relate to things that makes the learning process easier for them and more interesting.”
Shrestha teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Elizabeth Mosqueda is one of Shrestha’s plant science graduate students in her final semester of her master’s degree and also took undergraduate classes with him.
“As an undergraduate, in his weed science and pesticides class, he would always take his students out to different areas like the farm we have on campus.” Mosqueda said. “He’d show us the different projects his students were working on, what they meant and what they were going to possibly be entail for the entire ag region here in the Central Valley.”
“He not only told us — he showed us exactly how it worked and what the research we were doing was meant to do,” Mosqueda said.
Shrestha came to Fresno in 2002 as a researcher for the University of California at its Parlier ag-research facility and that experience, he said, was invaluable in his later work as a teacher.
“Agriculture is itself an applied science so when you teach these courses from an applied perspective students are able to relate more to what their learning actually means in the big picture, in the real world,” Shrestha said. “[Research experience] made it easier for me to show the connection between what their learning and what it means in the real world.”
In 2008, Shrestha came to Fresno State. “I haven’t had any teaching experience, prior to Fresno State,” she said.
Shrestha’s education and research has taken him around the world — from high school in his native Nepal, undergraduate studies in India, graduate school at Cornell and Michigan State universities in the United States and post-doctoral work in Canada.
In summer 2015, he went back to Nepal to help set up a graduate weed science program at the Agricultural and Forestry University — an effort for which Shrestha was honored with Winrock International’s August 2015 Volunteer of the Month award.
“I designed their syllabus and I designed their curriculum for their graduate program in weed science,” Shrestha said. “I just got word that they have started the program, so that is really good.”
During the spring 2015 semester, Shrestha was awarded Fresno State’s top faculty honor, the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, as well as an outstanding adviser award for the 2014 to 2015 school year.