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Hockett Cooper, Michele

Michele T Hockett cooper

Assistant Professor of Instruction
Department of Nutritional Sciences

Agriculture and Food Systems Specialist; EdEN Intern Program Director; EdEN Lab Member; Peace Corps Prep Faculty Advisor

Office Location

Postal Address
103 W 24TH ST
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Originally from northern Montana, Michele Hockett Cooper has experience with a wide range of agriculture and food systems: lifelong experience on her family's large-scale wheat and cattle operation in Montana; designing and running a small organic garden program at a children's summer camp; and supporting local producers in the Austin area through her past involvement with Green Gate Farms, the New Farm Institute, and the Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Markets. Michele holds a Master's degree in Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies from Michigan State University, and throughout her career she has worked with farmers and students across the lifespan and the globe, from Malawi to Kazakhstan, and Montana to Texas. Michele received teacher training through her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan where she worked in a secondary school as a TEFL educator, and she is happy to serve as the Peace Corps Prep Faculty Advisor at UT Austin. She is also Adjunct Faculty at Austin Community College and she teaches Basic Principles of Sustainable Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship Program. 

Michele began working at the University of Texas at Austin as a Project Coordinator/Lead Educator for the TX Sprouts research project through the Davis Lab (Department of Nutritional Sciences). In her role with TX Sprouts, Michele assisted with anthropometric data collection and taught gardening, healthy living, and nutrition lessons to Title I elementary school students throughout the greater Austin area. She also contributed to the creation and implementation of sustainability programs for school gardens through TX Sprouts, and she continues to support central TX school gardens by facilitating garden-centered trainings for local teachers.

Michele directs the EdEN Intern Program (a subset of the EdEN Lab), which places upper division Nutrition students in local elementary school gardens as intern teachers. These students implement garden and nutrition lessons with PK-5th grade students, with the ultimate goals of: supporting school gardens; training classroom teachers in garden utilization; exposing UT Nutrition students to real-life applications of public health nutrition programs; and increasing healthy food knowledge and self-efficacy among young learners and their families. 

Michele is passionate about education, food systems, and farming, and she loves teaching UT students about these topics.

  • Davis, J.N., Nikah K., Landry M.J., Vandyousefi, S., Ghaddar R., Jeans M.J., Cooper M.H., Martin B., Waugh L., Sharma S.V., van den Berg, A. (2022). Effects of a garden, nutrition, cooking randomized controlled trial on academic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2022.08.125
  • Hoover, A.; Vandyousefi, S.; Martin, B.; Nikah, K.; Cooper, M.; Muller, A.; Marty, E.; Duswalt-Epstein, M.; Burgermaster, M.; Waugh, L.; Linkenhoker, B.; Davis, J. (2021). Barriers, Strategies, and Resources to Thriving School Gardens. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Vol. 53, No. 7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2021.02.011
  • Nikah, K.; Martin, B.; Hoover, A.; Vandyousefi, S.; Hockett Cooper, M.; Muller, A.; Marty, E.; Duswalt-Epstein, M.; Burgermaster, M.; Davis, J. (2020). 2020 Austin School Garden Report. Compiled for the City of Austin, Office of Sustainability.
  • Silberg, T.R., Richardson, R.B., Hockett, M., and Snapp, S.S. (2017). Maize-Legume Intercropping in Central Malawi: Determinants of Practice. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 1-19. doi:10.1080/14735903.2017.1375070
  • Hockett, M., and Richardson, R.B. (2016). Examining the Drivers of Agricultural Experimentation Among Smallholder Farmers in Malawi. Exploring Agriculture, 1-21. doi:10.1017/S0014479716000673
  • UT Tower Awards - Outstanding Service-Learning Instructor, Office of the President and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (2023)
  • University of Texas at Austin Faculty Innovation Center, Undergraduate Teaching Grant Recipient: Nutrition Students in the Community: Internships in elementary school gardens (2021)
  • Texas Association for Environmental Education (Austin, TX – Fall 2021), Speaker and Panel Host: Outdoor Education Tastes Good: Nutrition and Gardening in Austin-area Elementary School
  • Texas Executive Education, McCombs School of Business (Austin, TX – Spring 2019, Summer 2020), Guest Lecturer for Shandong Program: US Agricultural Systems and Sustainable Agriculture
  • NTR 365: Principles and Applications in Community Engagement
  • NTR 365L: Experiential Learning and Community Engagement
  • NTR 332: Community Nutrition
  • NTR 331: International Nutrition: Social and Environmental Policies
  • NTR 306: Fundamentals of Nutrition (in partnership with LAITS)