DNR Announces $1,000 Grant for Top Conservation Teacher
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is offering a $1,000 grant to a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade public or private school teacher in the state who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences. Science specialists covering those grade levels can also apply.
The Conservation Teacher of the Year grant is coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Section of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. Funding is provided by the section’s friends group, The Environmental Resources Network, better known as TERN.
Through education, research and management, the Wildlife Conservation Section 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 and habitats as the context for learning, explained Linda May, DNR outreach coordinator.
“Georgia is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife,” May said. “We want to support a talented teacher who highlights these natural wonders with his or her students in creative ways.”
Previous recipients covered state curriculum standards through innovative lessons, outdoor investigations and community outreach. For example, 2018 recipient Dr. Kimberlie Harris taught students at Samuel L. Hubbard Elementary in Forsyth about Georgia’s endangered animals. After researching rare species and learning about threats to their survival, Harris’ third graders created a bat habitat at the school, complete with bat houses and native plants that attract insects bats eat. The project was reported by Macon media and the Georgia Farm Bureau, raising awareness about bats in the community.
Last year, Bulloch County STEM Lab teacher Stephanie Hodges used grant funds to buy supplies for a “pollinator paradise” at Portal Elementary. Students learned about the importance of bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators in healthy ecosystems, as well as the role of pollinators in fruit and seed production. The monarch butterfly, an iconic species threatened by habitat loss, pesticides and a changing climate, particularly stirred their interest. Therefore, students grew and planted milkweed, the only plant on which monarchs lay eggs, to help populations. Native nectar-producing plants were added to attract other pollinators, too.
This fall, another talented teacher will be selected to receive funding based on project design, evaluated through applicant answers to 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. Details at georgiawildlife.com/TeachingConservationGrant.
The deadline to apply is Aug. 20, 2020. DNR will notify the grant winner by Sept. 10, 2020.