Two Idaho teachers who are active in the Project WILD educational programs administered by Fish and Game will receive national awards in June.
The presidential award for excellence in math and science is given every year to one elementary and one secondary teacher from each state. The awards will be presented to the teachers in a ceremony in Washington D.C. in late June. Clint Kennedy, a teacher in Cascade, said his advanced biology is a research class "where students get to do real science instead of just learning about science." It is described in detail on the class web site which is totally student-run (www.cascadehs.csd.k12.id.us/advbio/home.html). From this web site, users can navigate to the other three web sites these students write and operate including one for the DEQ describing the work done on Cascade Reservoir. The advanced biology web site describes all the projects Kennedy's students have done over the last several years. Kennedy has 1 his curriculum as a paper in the journal of the American Water Resources Association. The curriculum was presented to a national Project WILD group in Maryland for wider use.
Kennedy serves as a facilitator for Project WILD II in McCall and uses Project WILD activities in the seventh through 12th grade classes he teaches at Cascade. Kennedy, a native Idahoan and for 17 years before entering teaching a timber faller in the logging industry, said "I feel strongly about wildlife and natural resources in Idaho and wouldn't live anywhere else. I think we need to appreciate and value our wonderful state much more than we do. Someone has to speak for the wildlife and cold, clear water Idaho has been so famous for - the things that keep so many of us happy."
Betty Collins, a third grade teacher at Sagle Elementary in North Idaho, has taken all the courses in the Project WILD program but uses them less directly with her young students. She said she integrates elements of the science of ecology into the class materials she teaches on several subjects. Third graders learn with "hands-on" examples that include planting wild plants and keeping unusual pets like insects, fish and amphibians in the classroom. Younger students "focus on individual animals" in a way that teaches broader lessons, she said.
Collins is looking forward to visiting peers from other parts of the country when she goes to Washington in June. One of the sessions there will deal with how to best use the $7,500 cash award that comes with the honor. Each award-winning teacher is able to help direct the spending of the money in his or her school system.