The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a $1,000 grant to a public or private school teacher grades 3 to 5 in the state who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences. Science specialists covering those grade levels also may apply.
The “Conservation Teacher of the Year” grant is coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Section of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. Funding is possible thanks to support from the Section’s friends group, The Environmental Resources Network (TERN).
Through education, research and management, Wildlife Conservation works to safeguard Georgia’s native diversity of wild animals, plants and their habitats, while also striving to increase public enjoyment of the outdoors. The purpose of the grant is to recognize and help an outstanding teacher who uses Georgia’s native wildlife, plants and habitats as the context for learning, according to Linda May, DNR environmental outreach coordinator.
“Georgia is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. We want to support a talented teacher who highlights these natural wonders with his or her students in creative ways.” May said.
Previous grant recipients taught students through cross-curricular outdoor experiences. For example, students at Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary in Forsyth constructed a bog garden out of a regularly flooded area on campus. In addition to creating wildlife habitat, the bog garden solved a water runoff problem and now serves as an outdoor classroom. Third-grade teacher Tiffany Smith coordinated this effort, using grant funds to buy all the supplies needed for students to construct the bog garden and fill it with native plants. Funds were leveraged by equipment donations as well as labor by parents and community volunteers.
Last year, K-5 Discovery Science Lab teacher Karen Garland was awarded the $1,000 grant for her “Campaigning for Pollinators” project at Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy in Acworth. After her third-grade students heard about the plight of pollinators, they were determined to find a solution. After surveying a grassy area on campus devoid of butterflies and bees, they decided to turn the monoculture into a habitat with sufficient food, water and shelter for pollinators. They also invited birds, small reptiles and amphibians to the space by adding native plants that produce seeds and berries, rock piles and water sources. “Learning about pollinators and other Georgia wildlife will continue to be an integral part of our curriculum, as the garden makes for an excellent real-world study site,” said Garland.
This fall, another talented teacher will be selected to receive funding based on project design, which will be evaluated through grant proposal questions. Projects that are especially creative and teach about Georgia’s rare or endangered species, as well as solid projects that have no other means of funding, will earn bonus points. See www.georgiawildlife.com/TeachingConservationGrantfor details.
The deadline to apply is Sept. 17, 2018. Georgia DNR will notify the grant winner by Oct. 5, 2018.