More than a Mentor: Bellmer wins Ferguson College of Agriculture Excellence in Teaching Award
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Danielle Bellmer made her way to Oklahoma State University 23 years ago to be a researcher in the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center and found her passion for teaching along the way. A professor in the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Bellmer strives to help students understand difficult scientific concepts in multiple scientific disciplines and apply them to their world.
“What I love most about teaching is when you get to see that lightbulb moment,” Bellmer said. “When students are having trouble with a difficult concept and you spend a little time explaining it to them in much more detail, and suddenly you see that switch flip, that is my favorite thing.”
Bellmer has taught all levels of classes from introduction courses to senior level courses along with being a researcher and mentor for students. Bellmer’s ability to connect with students and love for teaching earned her the 2020 Ferguson College of Agriculture Award for Excellence in Teaching — an honor she is humbled to receive.
“In the Ferguson College of Agriculture, there are tons of great teachers,” Bellmer said. “People here love to teach and they love students, so to be chosen for this award among this elite group of faculty is really humbling. I am really honored.”
Bellmer had no idea how much she would enjoy being a teacher. With plans to mostly do research when she arrived at OSU, she was surprised by how much she loved the instructional aspect of the job.
“I love to interact with students and be their mentor,” Bellmer said. “I love to be their support system and that really gives me joy every single day.”
Cynda Clary, associate dean of academic programs for the Ferguson College of Agriculture, said she is grateful for the passion Bellmer brings to teaching and the impact she is making in the college.
“Dr. Bellmer’s passion for students, research and teaching is evident in everything she does. She treats her students with respect, holds them to a high standard, and helps them achieve success in and out of the classroom.” Clary said. “She is impacting our academic programs through her involvement and leadership on several committees and teams to help shape the academic experience for our students.
John Veenstra, professor and head of the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, said Bellmer’s exceptional teaching ability, innovative teaching style, understanding of the teaching process and interaction with students at all levels of instruction have gained recognition and distinction within the department.
“Dr. Bellmer’s record of performance is one of consistent excellence.” Veenstra said. “For the last five semesters in which I have conducted the BAE senior exit interviews, Dr. Bellmer is regularly mentioned as one of BAE’s ‘especially good’ instructors. Students take note of her passion for teaching.”
Veenstra said Bellmer works very hard at her craft as an instructor. She has participated in multiple Ferguson College of Agriculture teaching workshops and has taken advantage of other programs provided on campus.
“Dr. Bellmer firmly believes a university’s greatest product is its students,” Veenstra said. “She goes into every interaction she has with them as an opportunity to pass on knowledge and to do so in a positive and encouraging fashion.”
Jessie Payne, 2019 OSU food science graduate, said Bellmer is an excellent example of the professor and mentor all faculty strive to be. Payne had little experience with research when Bellmer began to mentor and teach her starting her freshman year at OSU. Payne said she is grateful for the time her professor invested in her.
“Her impact on my life pushed me to continue to do research and find what I am passionate about.” Payne said. “She pushed me to continue my newfound love for research.”
In addition to teaching her about the research process, Bellmer’s encouragement helped Payne earn a prestigious undergraduate research scholarship.
“Not only did she encourage me to continue my research, but she pushed me because she saw something in me that I did not even see in myself,” Payne said. “She helped me become one of only 40 individuals selected university-wide for a Wentz research proposal to be able to continue my research.”
Bellmer is not only an excellent mentor, but also a great teacher. She makes difficult topics understandable, and designs her classes to be challenging but interesting enough to leave students wanting to learn more, Payne said.
“I believe Dr. Bellmer deserved the Ferguson College of Agriculture Excellence in Teaching Award,” Payne said. “She can take a student and change their entire life; and that is exactly what she did with mine.”