Harvard Forest Schoolyard ecology teacher wins formal educator award

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Katherine Bennett, a Harvard Forest Schoolyard ecology teacher, is the recipient of the 2008 New England Environmental Education Alliance Award by the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA).

Katherine Bennett

Katherine Bennett won the NEEEA Award (photo courtesy of NEEEA).

Bennett, who teaches at J.R. Briggs Elementary School in Ashburnham, MA, has integrated real world science and out of doors study into her classes by working with researchers at the Harvard Forest on a variety of projects focused on forest environments, the hemlock woolly adelgid, and ant ecology. In one project, Bennett involved each of her students in a hands-on ecological field research project called 'Hemlock Trees and the Pesky Pest, the Woolly Adelgid' as part of Harvard Forest's Schoolyard and Ecology Program. The students collected data on the presence of the woolly adelgid on the school's nature trail, and then used a variety of technology tools, including digital cameras, spreadsheets, and the web to draw conclusions and make recommendations about protecting the school's hemlock trees. Through their involvement in Harvard Forest research on this project and subsequent projects, Bennett's students are prepared to mature into scientifically literate and environmentally aware and responsible citizens.

In addition to her work with Harvard Forest researchers, Bennett has also worked since 2002 with the Nashua River Watershed Association's EIC Model-using the Environment in an Integrating Context. She participated in the first EIC Model training session and her school and EIC team was chosen as one of the first schools to participate in the national program. Throughout her career, Bennett has taken the time and effort to share what she has learned about teaching environmental education with other educators, working with other teachers at her school as well as presenting at many Harvard Forest teacher workshops, the Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, and the New England Environmental Education Alliance annual conferences.

By Pamela Snow, HFR