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CSRA group looking for top environmental teacher

The Central Savannah River Area Environmental Science Education Cooperative is holding its second annual Environmental Teacher of the Year contest offering local teachers the opportunity to win a $500 award.

Ruth Meade, the senior education specialist with the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy said the teacher of the year program was designed to build on their eco-meet program.

The ESEC group began holding annual eco-meets in 2001 for middle school pupils. The meets are day-long competitions in which teams of pupils are tested at hands-on stations covering topics such as archeology, wetlands, fire science, ornithology, meteorology and lake ecology.

"And we wanted to do a little bit more to get recognition out to teachers who are doing a good job with environmental education," she said. "Just trying to really say thank you to a lot of teachers who are trying their best to put environmental ed into the classroom while still meeting their standards."

The award is open to public, private and home school teachers, K-12, of all disciplines. According to the ESEC website, the winning teacher will be the one who best motivates students and colleagues towards environmental awareness, exhibits creative techniques for introducing environmental issues into the curriculum, motivates students to become critical thinkers about environmental issues, conveys the importance of environmental education and encourages students and peers to become environmental stewards.

For example, Ms. Meade said a math teacher might include real global warming numbers in a word problem.

"You don't have to be a science teacher," she said. "Although it's easier for a science teacher because they get into all the ecology concepts. ... It does take a little bit of effort, and imagination. Like if there's one concept that's part of the standard, and how to do it through environmental ed."

Last year's winner was Karey Santos, a fourth grade teacher at Millbrook Elementary School in Aiken.

Teachers can nominate themselves, or be nominated by a peer or principal. The nomination period began Monday, Jan. 14, and ends Friday, March 28, 2008.

Nomination forms are at

All nominees will be honored at an awards ceremony in April at The Augusta Canal Interpretive Center.

Based at Fort Discovery, the mission of ESEC is to provide information and access to programs for the community to become more effective environmental stewards through science education, research, technology and public outreach.

"A lot of people don't know we're here and what we can do for them. We're trying to make their job easier," Ms. Meade said.

Web posted on Thursday, January 31, 2008

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