Ep 24: How Can You Incorporate Agriculture Into Your Homeschool Curriculum?

Dawn Cogan

Dawn Cogan, IDEA Fairbanks Site Administrator and Contact Teacher brings her passion for agriculture to this episode. She shares about her expertise in bee keeping, all different types of workshops our offices host and how to incorporate these opportunities into your curriculum. You will also learn  the secret to growing a luscious garden and keeping the wildlife out!

Guest Biography:
Dawn Cogan is the Site Administrator of IDEA in Fairbanks, Alaska. She and her husband were both born and raised in Fairbanks. Dawn obtained her bachelor’s degree in management communications from Northwest Christian University in 1993. The Cogans homeschooled two children for thirteen on a family homestead 30 miles north of Fairbanks.

Dawn received a teacher’s certificate through UAF in 2015 and M.Ed. in Education Leadership from UAA in 2018. She has been working as a certified contact teacher with IDEA since 2015 and as the administrator for the past seven years.

Dawn’s passion for agricultural science has given her the opportunity to teach thousands of families how to keep honeybees in their own back yard. She is also a master gardener.

A favorite part of each day for Dawn is collaborating with home school parents, students and a statewide team of professionals to dream and design ways to inspire individualized learning.

Episode Sponsor:
IDEA Community Partnerships

Resource Links:



Ep 22: How Can You Grow Grit And Resilience In Your Homeschool Journey?


Dan Kullander


Dan Kullander returns on this episode to discuss deeper concepts of growth mindset — the belief that abilities are not fixed but can be expanded through dedication and learning. He introduces the concepts of grit and resilience and how the importance of finding purpose while connecting that to larger goals can help people persevere in the face of challenges. Dan shares practical tips for parents, including the importance of providing emotional support while maintaining high standards for achievement. By balancing warmth and expectations, parents can create an environment that encourages growth and resilience in their children.

Guest Biography:

Dan Kullander is Lead Teacher at the IDEA Eagle River office.  He grew up in Juneau, Alaska, and has worked with children in preschool, private school, public school, and church ministry settings.  Dan and his wife began homeschooling their 4 boys through IDEA more than 12 years ago and have seen firsthand the amazing opportunities homeschool has to offer.  In 2019, Dan and his family moved to the Anchorage area, where he joined the IDEA staff as a Contact Teacher.  Growth Mindset has been a particular area of interest for Dan during his educational studies. He continues to explore it through discussions with colleagues, homeschooling families, and his own children.


IDEA Offices

Resource Links


  • Grit, by Carol Dweck

Ep 19: How Is IDEA’s Academic Decathlon Team Encouraging Tomorrow’s Leaders?


Scott Gingrich
Lori Zulliger
Jen Schutte
Mandy Wraith


Scott Gingrich, Lori Zulliger, Jen Schutte and Mandy Wraith join the podcast as IDEA’s Academic Decathlon (ACADECA) Coaches. This statewide club has grown exponentially since 1998 and continues to find success in competitions, including this year! Listen and learn about the growth students experience studying 10 academic disciplines throughout the semester, what it takes to make the team, and also hear a students’ speech as she practiced for the state competition.

Guest Biography:

Mandy Wraith is a home-educating mom from the Wasilla area who has educated her three sons at home from preschool. In 2009, her family moved to Alaska and joined IDEA. She loves the strong relationship formed with their amazing contact teacher and the support IDEA has provided along the way. In 2017, she started IDEA’s first Academic Pentathlon program and coached that for several years while her two youngest sons participated. This year she joined the MatSu area’s Academic Decathlon program as the assistant coach, and she is excited to be coaching the MatSu AceDeca team next year! She and her husband have two sons who have graduated, a lovely daughter-in-law, and is finishing strong with her last student, her son who will be a senior next year! The Wraith family love everything about life in Alaska; hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing, bush flying, gardening, berry picking. As a second-generation home educator who was educated at home K-12, she loves encouraging families along the thrilling adventure of person-tailored learning!

Jen Schutte joined IDEA in January of 2012 with her son, Alex.  They never regretted that decision and only wish they had taken the plunge sooner.  Alex graduated in May of 2019. She has two more students (Morgan and Quinn) moving up the ranks.  She looks forward to crossing the stage with them as well in 2025 and 2032. She believes in being an active participant in her family’s lives enabling them to follow their passions.  She has led clubs such as FLL Robotics and held the positions of Secretary and Chair for the Parent Advisory Committee.  Jen became the Field Representative for the Fairbanks office in July of 2019.  She advocates for all families in the IDEA program.  She maintains communication between families and administration; oversees PAC; welcomes new families to the program; and helps coordinate events, orientations, activities, curriculum fair and workshops.   

Lori Zulliger is a Contact Teacher for IDEA. She has served homeschooling families as their educational colleague since 2001, and has delighted in watching young children grow up to be confident and capable adults. Lori homeschooled her own daughter through IDEA, so she understands IDEA from the inside-out. Lori adores the homeschooling community and is excited about the choices that are afforded to the parent-teachers and their students. 

Scott Gingrich is a contact teacher who has worked for the District going on 31 years.  Married for 36 years with 5 wonderful kids.  He likes biking and kayaking when not at work.

Episode Sponsor:

IDEA’s Curriculum Fair

Resource Links:

Academic Decathlon: https://www.usad.org/

Learn more about IDEA’s Curriculum Fair: https://www.ideafamilies.org/fair