Duval County has many students who have never visited the many local parks and beaches that Jacksonville has to offer. So why should they care about the increasingly distressed state of our local habitats and wildlife?
The Cindy Edelman fellowship has allowed me to travel to the Galapagos Islands to work with local scientists who spend their careers dedicated to conservation and educating their local youth. I have brought many of these skills and lessons back to involve our students in Florida conservation efforts.
The Edelman Fellowship was established by Dan Edelman in honor of his wife, Cindy, a former art teacher in Duval County. It is intended to bring meaning and excitement back into the field of education for teachers, schools and most importantly, our students. The professional developments that we educators have selected have allowed us to collaborate with scientists and educators across the globe and have already made a significant impact on our schools.
This fellowship has deepened my understanding of what it means to be a science teacher, a scientist and the impact that our youth can have when given the correct information and tools. I want my students at RCSA Innovation to build a connection to Jacksonville and a sense of responsibility for the impact they can potentially have within their own communities and even the rest of the world.
In the Galapagos Islands, I worked with Ecology Project International and their local instructors and scientists to gain hands on experience and to learn about human impact on their islands- this included studying endangered species, microplastics collection and studies, visiting a coral reef nursery and gaining knowledge on invasive species and how scientists' study and control them.
I have also brought back many lessons, engagement tools, and skills to my science program this school year. My Biology students will be participating in their very own version of a living laboratory to collect microplastics in Hannah Park as well as with Jacksonville University to collect and test water samples in our St. Johns River. They will be learning about local conservation efforts and relating it directly back to their impact on Jacksonville’s beaches and natural parks by completing a large project-based learning unit that I have designed. They will become problem solvers and educators to their own families and communities!
This course also allowed me to gain a new community of scientists and science teachers who share my passion for Biology and conservation work. This is a priceless resource for me because they have contributed to my project in so many different ways already. Collaboration is the key to success in science, and this special group of people has very quickly become a part of my learning community.
Our students are future scientists, educators, and government officials- the work we do as educators now WILL have a lasting effect. We have no idea what this early exposure could do for our environment and community here in Jacksonville, and maybe even across the world.