Professional News

Great Teachers 2023: Kenton Sena helps Lewis Honors students cultivate a curiosity for learning

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 16, 2023) — In February, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association honored the six recipients of this year’s Great Teacher Awards. Launched in 1961, they are the longest-running UK awards that recognize teaching. Over the next six weeks, UKNow is highlighting the passionate and accomplished educators who were named a 2023 Great Teacher.

Kenton Sena, Ph.D., a lecturer in the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College, is one of this year’s Great Teacher Award recipients. He joined the UK faculty in 2018 and teaches courses on forest restoration ecology, environmental science and literature of the environment. 

“I am invested in my community and invested in relationships, and I think that's a strength in the classroom, because students feel like I am invested in them,” Sena said. “I try to be as active as I can in doing meaningful work in the community and on campus, and I am able to invite students to participate in that with me.”

Sena’s service-learning program engages students in environmentally-relevant projects in Lexington and across the Commonwealth. As part of his course, “The Ecology of Middle-earth,” Sena and his students traveled to Daniel Boone National Forest to help restore native forests on a surface mined site. Read more here.

“We're able to go out in the woods and cut some honeysuckle and then plant some trees. And I think that active participation is something that students really appreciate,” Sena said. “I really want to help students cultivate a curiosity for learning and knowing outside of whatever their field of focus is.”

Sena earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in literature from Asbury University, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from UK. He has published papers in journals such as Forests, Ecological Restoration, Science of the Total Environment, and Forest Ecology and Management.

Most recently, Sena was selected to receive the 2023 American Society of Reclamation Sciences Richard I. and Lela M. Barnhisel Reclamation Researcher of the Year Award. This award reflects Sena's achievements in the field of reclamation research. Read more here.

In order to receive a Great Teacher award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and stipend.

“I am humbled to be added to this list of really incredible teachers, I think it's a great honor,” Sena said. “I’m thankful to the student who nominated me, and I'm very thankful to the Alumni Association for their investment in teaching.”

Hear the stories from all the 2023 Great Teacher Award winners here.

Kenton Sena.

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