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Distinguished teaching--the organic way

July 24, 2009


U of M professor Bud Markhart.

Albert (Bud) H. Markhart III is a professor of organic horticulture in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

Distinguished teacher Bud Markhart isn't afraid to get his students' hands dirty

By Pauline Oo

Bud Markhart's greatest gift is that "he knows how to clearly explain complex scientific concepts in a way that is understood and recalled, synthesized and communicated," says a colleague. Students consistently rank him as one of the department’s best instructors. One of his innovations is a scratch-off multiple-choice answer sheet for midterm exams, which offers students instant feedback—and partial credit for picking the answer on the second or third try.

"Bud's class engaged me…and proved to be the challenge I was looking for," says a former student. "He was the first teacher in many years [who] didn't let me get away with memorizing and regurgitating."

Markhart is equally in demand as an adviser. He's now advising 13 environmental horticulture majors and annually mentors an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program student. He pioneered the University's organic horticulture curriculum and inspired students to create Cornercopia, a one-acre plot of certified organic land on the St. Paul campus and sell their organic produce at the U's popular summer Farmer's Market

"After 28 years of teaching at the University of Minnesota, I still look forward to the beginning of a new semester with enthusiasm, energy, and butterflies."

Albert (Bud) H. Markhart III is a 2009 recipient of the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.

As the department's learning abroad adviser, he also provides international experiences. In spring 2006, he taught a course that culminated in a tour of organic crop production in Iceland and Germany.

"When we were revamping our undergraduate major, he was the one who asked, 'what will this change do for students?' Keeping students' interests front and center is a hallmark of Professor Markhart," says a colleague.