Thanks to a very successful Annual Appeal Fundraising campaign this year, ASNV was able to award two scholarships to Audubon's "Educators Week" at Hog Island in Maine this summer. Arlington Public Schools autism specialist Deborah Hammer and Prince William County Public Schools science teacher Amanda Hoeschler will deepen their knowledge of environmental education and citizen science during the week of workshops, field trips, hiking, intertidal explorations and a visit to the restored Atlantic puffin and tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock.
Hammer works with students and staff across Arlington County schools, adapting lessons for students so they can access and benefit from them and coaching and mentoring the teaching staff. In the coming year, she intends to focus on science and nature education. Hammer is also a Virginia Master Naturalist, volunteer for the Friends of Dyke Marsh, and a seasoned bat educator, researcher and rehabilitator, having volunteered with the Save Lucy Campaign for nine years. According to Leslie Sturges, founder of Save Lucy, "It seems she is always teaching someone about something, especially where the natural worlds is concerned. I can say without hesitation that people with Deborah’s interest in the natural world, who can also teach, are much needed in today’s plugged-in, yet disconnected, world.”
Hoeschler is a first-year life science teacher working at Reagan Middle School in Haymarket. She’s passionate about the environment and believes that one reason environmental education doesn’t get more attention is because many teachers aren’t trained in how to best teach these topics. She’s a former summer residential outdoor educator with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, where education programs specialist Kristin Black described her as “innovative,” “a lifelong learner,” and “one of the best people I have ever hired.”
The scholarship recipients will develop a new or enhance an existing conservation-themed project for their students. ASNV will offer resources, professional advice and program support as needed. Last year’s recipient, Michele Sullivan of Mantua Elementary in Fairfax County, is creating a bird-focused meaningful watershed educational experience (MWEE) for fifth-graders this spring. Other projects by scholarship recipients have included developing wildlife-friendly habitat on school grounds, maintaining a bluebird trail, and conducting professional development programs for teachers.