Teacher Awarded Grant to Monitor Seabirds

Teacher Awarded Grant to Monitor Seabirds
Posted on 04/06/2023

Old Saybrook Teacher Awarded Grant to Monitor Seabirds on an Island off the Coast of South Africa

Old Saybrook, CT – Mrs. Karen Evans, 5th Grade teacher at Old Saybrook Middle School, has been awarded a $10,000 grant by Fund for Teachers. This grant is being used during two weeks over the summer break for Mrs. Evans and her husband to join an Earthwatch Expedition to Robben Island, South Africa, where she will work alongside scientists to monitor seabirds and the island’s ecosystem. 

As part of the Earthwatch Expedition, Mrs. Evans will conduct a variety of important tasks such as studying and monitoring penguins and their chicks, tracking their movement patterns, and cleaning debris from the island. All of the data collected over the two weeks will be logged as part of a larger, ongoing study on the declining population of the African penguins due to human activity such as oil spills, overfishing, and climate change.

Being an avid proponent of environmental causes and believer in the value of authentic, hands-on learning experiences, Mrs. Evans is hoping to use this expedition, not only to gain valuable scientific knowledge and experience, but also to inform project-based learning units for her students. In particular, Mrs. Evans hopes to bring back a better understanding of the positive ways that humans can impact the environment and share those techniques with her students. 

“Our hope is to be able to inspire our students to investigate a local environmental issue. We can teach them the importance of local communities relying on its citizens to help conduct scientific research. We will show our students how to use scientific processes to help design experiments, collect data, analyze results and solve problems,” said Mrs. Evans regarding her goals for the expedition.  

Superintendent Jan Perruccio connected Mrs. Evans’ trip to the District’s Strategic Plan, saying, “It is our goal to graduate students who are, as our mission statements says, ‘global citizens who care for the environment’.  Mrs. Evans will come back to her students with first hand knowledge about what is causing the impact on these birds and what that means for all of us.” 

Fund for Teachers is a non-profit organization that provides educators across the country an opportunity to apply for fellowships that will offer a transformational learning experience. Fund for Teachers is supported by Dalio Philanthropies, a foundation that has worked to strengthen education in Connecticut for twenty years. The Dalio Foundation is passionate about engaging with educators, community leaders, and young people to build meaningful relationships and design solutions to achieve greater equity and prosperity across the state. Mrs. Evans is the third Old Saybrook teacher to be chosen for this very selective opportunity in the last five years.