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Teachers as Change Makers

The Transformative Stories of Nutanix Teach Earth Educators

Two teachers traveled on Earthwatch expeditions to study wildlife and ecosystems alongside scientists, thanks to funding from Nutanix. Hear from these teachers as they share their experiences in the field and how they’ll bring their new knowledge back to their classrooms.

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Nutanix, committed to fostering educational growth and environmental awareness, has partnered with Earthwatch's Teach Earth fellowship program to provide a transformative opportunity for educators. This initiative has enabled teachers to embark on unique research expeditions, immersing themselves in environmental science and conservation.

In 2023, our Teach Earth fellows, funded by Nutanix, have ventured into the diverse ecosystems of the Sierra Nevadas and Costa Rica. Their journeys, filled with scientific exploration and personal discovery, have equipped them with fresh insights and methodologies to invigorate their classrooms and inspire students about environmental science and conservation.

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Wendi Pillars

Biology, Earth Science, and ESL Teacher, Grades 9–11, Jordan-Matthews High School, Siler City, NC
Joined Caterpillars and Climate Change in the Sierra Nevadas

Earthwatch Teach Earth Fellow, Wendi PillarsAs a seasoned science teacher, I embarked on the Teach Earth fellowship to deepen my understanding of our planet's intricate ecological networks. My expedition focused on tri-trophic interactions involving plants, caterpillars, and parasitoids. Though less known, these interactions play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance.

In the breathtaking backdrop of the Sierra Nevadas, our fieldwork encompassed capturing caterpillars, conducting floral transects, and identifying butterflies. We learned to discern between various caterpillar species and understand their preferences and ecosystem roles. I was particularly struck by the vital task of creating comprehensive field guides, which could be an inspiring career path for students interested in scientific illustration.

This experience has transformed my perspective. I now see the world with a keener awareness of the unseen forces at play, like the volatile organic compounds emitted by plants. In my classroom, I aim to instill this sense of wonder in my students. We'll explore the outdoors, identify plants, collect caterpillars, and maybe even rear them, fostering a connection with nature and a deeper curiosity about the visible and invisible world around us.

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Katie Brown
Math, Science, English Teacher, Grade 5, Canalino Elementary School, Carpinteria, CA
Joined Conserving Marine Mammals in Costa Rica

Earthwatch Teach Earth Fellow, Katie BrownMy journey with the Earthwatch Teach Earth Fellowship in Costa Rica was a blend of travel, education, and a rekindling of my passion for environmental science. The fellowship exceeded my expectations, especially in two aspects: the collaboration with fellow educators and the firsthand research experience with cetaceans.

Interacting with teachers from various backgrounds was enlightening and refreshing, invigorating my enthusiasm for the upcoming school year. Observing bottlenose dolphins and other marine life in their natural habitat was a magical experience, heightening my commitment to conservation.

I am eager to bring this experience into my classroom. My teaching will draw upon this expedition, whether discussing the unique ecosystems of tropical fjords, the fascinating songs of humpback whales, or the significance of food webs and biodiversity. This fellowship has not only enriched my professional life. However, it will also inspire my students through the passion and wonder it has instilled in me.

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These educators, supported by Nutanix, are better equipped to bring real-world environmental science into their classrooms, educating the next generation of environmental advocates. Their experiences symbolize the transformative power of hands-on learning in the field.

Since its inception in 1975, Teach Earth has been a pioneer in teacher professional development, combining hands-on field research with educational innovation. We thank Nutanix for its commitment to education and environmental stewardship.

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A special thank you to Nutanix for funding these teachers’ fellowships!

Are you a high school teacher, or do you know someone who is searching for an opportunity to participate in a hands-on field science experience? Learn more about the Teach Earth program!

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