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Museum of Natural Sciences selects participants for educational adventures abroad

For Immediate Release
Contacts:  Jon Pishney, 919.707.8083
Liz Baird, 919.707.9893
Participants, upon request

RALEIGH — This summer, 20 educators from across North Carolina will experience the natural world like never before as part of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Educators of Excellence Institutes.

From June 13 to 21, 2013, Museum educators will lead a selected group through Yellowstone — America’s first national park — as they study wildlife ranging from gray wolves to grizzly bears. These teachers also will study the park’s unique geology, learn about the role of fire in natural ecosystems, and discuss conservation and environmental issues similar to those faced by North Carolina. 

Another group will travel to Belize, Central America, from July 23 to 31. Along with two educators from Belize, participants will learn about surprising similarities between the ecologies of the tropics and their own region of North Carolina. During this 23rd annual trip, they will study birds, butterflies and other animals unique to the tropics, and have the opportunity to explore a rain forest, Mayan ruins and a coral reef.

“These trips have the power to change educators’ lives,” says Liz Baird, director of school programs. “Not only do the Institutes inspire and reward outstanding teachers, they also have a huge impact on how teachers teach and relate to their students.” 

The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Educators of Excellence Institutes aim to inform and empower educators to teach students about North Carolina’s ecological connections to the rest of the world. All Institutes have an online component [naturalsciences.org] that allows colleagues and students to follow along on the trip through pictures, journal entries and email Q&A. 

Institute alumni become part of the Educators of Excellence Network, which helps teachers exchange innovative ideas for teaching science and promoting conservation awareness. More than 400 outstanding North Carolina science educators have participated in Educators of Excellence programs since 1987, while more than 250,000 North Carolina children have learned from these teachers.

A list of participants is provided below.


Yellowstone National Park Institute

  • Virginia Byrne, Ravenscroft School, Wake County
  • Kelli Charles, Irwin Intermediate School, Cumberland County
  • Meredith Cheetham, Exploris Middle School, Wake County
  • Valerie Ann Guilbeault, Crest Middle School, Cleveland County
  • Sally Massengale, Glenwood Elemenary, Orange County
  • Sarah Otis, Brentwood Magnet Elementary School, Wake County
  • Ruth Riddle, D.H. Conley High School, Pitt County
  • Molly Tuttle, Kimmel Farm Elementary School, Forsyth County


Belize Tropical Ecology Institute

  • Meghan Baker, NC Cooperative Extension Service, Buncombe County
  • Laura Cochrane, Mills Park Middle School, Wake County
  • Les-Lee Efird, Jesse C. Carson High School, Rowan County
  • David Everett, Belville Elementary School, Brunswick County
  • Steve Gerkin, North Carolina Zoo, Randolph County
  • Bridget Jeskewich, Clyde Erwin Elementary School, Onslow County
  • Samantha Lawing, South Iredell High School, Iredell County
  • Adrienne Palma, Nags Head Elementary School Dare County
  • Wendy Patoprsty, NC Cooperative Extension, Watauga County
  • Robin Seamon, William Ellis Middle School, Davie County
  • Carol Taylor, Hanes Magnet School, Forsyth County
  • Katharine Wernersbach Havelock High School, Craven County


Publish Date: 
Friday, April 19, 2013