Galapagos and US Teachers Collaborate to Develop Environmental Education Programs


Photo by Pete Oxford

The Toyota International Teacher Program has taken 30 of the top secondary school teachers in the US to some pretty fascinating talks and even more spectacular locales. But perhaps the best part of the program yet is the Galapagos/US teacher collaborative projects. Working together in teams of 5 or 6 US and Galapagueno teachers, the iniative's aim is to address the global environmental issues facing both the isolated island archipelago and the world's biggest superpower.

And it's both fascinating and inspiring to watch the teams work. Building International Eco-Education Bridges
The International Teacher Program selected some of the best teachers in the Galapagos and invited them onboard a touring ship with the US teachers so they could live, study, and work side by side for a few days.

First, all of the Galapagueno and American teachers took guided study tours through three of the uninhabited, national park-protected islands to examine the ecosystems. Most of the Galapagueno teachers had never been to any of them—inter-island travel is expensive, so many of the Galapaguenos had never been to more than the two main islands in their home archipelago that consists of dozens.

Between tours, the teams gathered to develop environmentally-focused lesson plans, teaching methods, and general philosophies.

Envisioning K-12 Environmental Education
One group decided to use cartoon character versions of various Galapagos fauna to create a fun, hands-on lesson plan on conservation for younger students.

Another took a more general approach to develop a teaching philosophy for the subject of biodiversity—a "Hearts, heads, and hands" agenda, according to AP Biology teacher Peter Crites. As I watched them work, I was struck by the dedication and sincerity put forth from both groups: they spiritedly discussed their respective environmental ails, occasionally stopping to translate more complicated details.

Francisco Hurtado Toral, a Galapagueno teacher originally from Ecuador, spoke of waste issues on his home island in heavily accented, but fluid English. Charles Lu, an inner city middle school teacher in LA, worked on making a Power Point presentation of the various issues. Meanwhile, Crites and Marcia Barton, a science teacher from New Mexico, discussed the pros and cons of high school environmental science class programs.

The passionate discussions reminded me again of why these highly ambitious and accomplished teachers were selected for the Teacher Program in the first place. And with a total of 38 teachers participating from both nations, that adds up to 38 schools that will soon be benefiting from an international dialogue on global environmental issues—which could add up to around 6,000 kids introduced to vital issues like conservation, biodiversity, climate change in a unique, stimulating manner.

Tomorrow, I'll follow up with a full report on the projects after each of the teams present their work in front of their peers.

30 of the top teachers in the US are making a trek from the Florida Everglades to the Galapagos Islands in order to engage a series of global conservation issues in the Toyota International Teacher Program. I'm traveling alongside the educators to report on what we discover about the threats and wonders on modern day Galapagos.
More articles from the teachers' trek to Galapagos
Teaching by Example: The Road to Galapagos
Anticipating Education in Modern Day Galapagos (Part One)
The Strange, Sexy Dance of the Blue-Footed Boobies

Tags: Conservation | Ecuador | Galapagos | Tourism