Toyota Promotes Environmental Conservation and International Education Among U.S. Schools and Communities

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The Toyota International Teacher Program is an international study tour for secondary teachers of all disciplines focused on promoting environmental conservation and sustainability, as well as global understanding.

I'm also looking forward to interacting with some of Costa Rica's educators and environmental professionals and comparing their ideas with the challenges and approaches to environmental management in the United States.

Twenty-five U.S. teachers will travel to Costa Rica to study global conservation issues as part of the Toyota International Teacher Program. Now in its 11th year, the program takes place April 18 - May 2, 2009.

Committed to providing the best education and training for environmental leaders and teachers of tomorrow, the Toyota International Teacher Program is an international study tour for secondary teachers of all disciplines focused on promoting environmental conservation and sustainability, as well as global understanding.

"Toyota recognizes the importance of establishing environmental sustainability in our daily routines," said Jim Lentz, president, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS). "This program provides teachers with the knowledge, experience and tools to make a positive difference in their schools and communities."

A new element to this year's Costa Rica trip is the creation of the Toyota4Education.com wiki. Established to serve as a virtual classroom and facilitate distance learning during the program, this social media tool enables teachers to communicate their experiences in real time with their schools and communities. Educators will blog about their Costa Rica experiences, post photos and lesson plans and correspond with their students.

Prior to departure, teachers will gather at Everglades National Park in Miami for a brief orientation and exploration of the Everglades biosphere to begin the conversation about environmental issues here in the United States and similar to what they will see in Costa Rica. Toyota has contributed more than $1 million and five vehicles to Everglades in support of environmental initiatives at the park over the next three years. Committed to fostering park environmental education programs, the Everglades was among five national parks to receive a donation of $5 million and 23 vehicles under Toyota's LEAF initiative.

In Costa Rica, a country dedicated to protecting its natural resources, area experts will educate participating teachers on sustainable development, agronomy, ecotourism and other conservation practices. Other activities include researching methods in sustainable agriculture at EARTH University.

For the first time, educators will travel to Monteverde, heralded as one of the most bio-diverse refuges in the world and widely considered the quintessence of Costa Rica's conservation movement. Monteverde is a base for researchers, international NGOs, and other civil society working on conservation biology and sustainable development issues. While there, the U.S. teachers will meet with researchers, visit local schools, engage in service projects and explore the role of environmental education in spreading environmental awareness.

The 25 participating teachers represent 22 states, and were selected through a competitive, merit-based process administered by the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C., the nation's most experienced nonprofit educational exchange organization. Selection criteria include professional qualifications, evidence of interest in international education, and feasibility of incorporating the environmental study experience into the curriculum.

"By having the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with Costa Rica educators and environmental experts, teachers will greatly enhance their understanding of global sustainability, biodiversity and conservation for the benefit of their students," said IIE President and CEO Dr. Allan E. Goodman.

Through a partnership with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, a graduate program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, participating teachers will be eligible for professional-level credit from the university. The Bren School plays a leading role in researching environmental issues, training environmental management professionals and identifying and solving environmental problems around the world. Bren professor of geomorphology and hydrology Thomas Dunne will serve as the official study-tour leader, helping teachers to connect their experiences in Costa Rica back to classroom lesson plans.

"The chance to travel with a group of talented secondary-school teachers will provide a unique and rewarding experience," said Professor Dunne. "I'm also looking forward to interacting with some of Costa Rica's educators and environmental professionals and comparing their ideas with the challenges and approaches to environmental management in the United States. "

The Toyota International Teacher Program is open to teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, employed full-time as a secondary classroom teacher or teacher-librarian (grades 6-12) and have a minimum of three years teaching experience. This year's Costa Rica participants were chosen from nearly 500 applications received from educators across the U.S. Application information for future programs can be found at http://www.Toyota4Education.com.

Funded through an annual $1.3 million grant from TMS, the Toyota International Teacher Program is the only one of its kind sponsored by a major U.S. corporation. To date, nearly 600 teachers nationwide have participated.

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers. Toyota directly employs over 36,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2007. For more information about our company, please visit http://www.toyota.com/, http://www.lexus.com/ and http://www.scion.com/.

About Toyota's Education Programs
In addition to sponsoring a number of nonprofit educational organizations, Toyota offers three major programs that support teachers with grants and students with scholarships: Toyota TAPESTRY, the largest K-12 science teacher grant program of its kind in the U.S.; Toyota Community Scholars, which provides 100 scholarships to high school seniors based on academics and community service; and the Toyota International Teacher Program. Toyota also supports scholarships through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; United Negro College Fund; Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation; National FFA and the American Indian College Fund. In 2007, Toyota USA contributed $57 million to U.S. philanthropic programs, with a majority of funding supporting education. For more information, visit http://www.toyota.com/community or contact rhonda_glasscock@toyota.com.

About the Bren School
The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is home to an interdisciplinary graduate program focused on environmental problem solving through the integration of science, management, law, economics and policy. Offering both a professional Master of Environmental Science and Management degree and a PhD track, the School's mission is to play a leading role in researching environmental issues, training scientists and environmental management professionals, and identifying and solving environmental problems around the world. It is ranked among the top programs of its kind in the nation and is the only such program in the western United States. For more information, go to http://www.bren.ucsb.edu.

About the Institute of International Education
An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute is the world's most experienced global higher education and professional exchange organization. IIE designs and implements more than 250 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. IIE has a network of 15 offices worldwide, over 800 college and university members and more than 5,000 volunteers. For more information, visit http://www.iie.org or contact Mike McCartt.

Media Contact:     Toyota Contact:        
Rebecca Lee    Rhonda Glasscock
GolinHarris for Toyota    Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
(213) 438-8827    (310) 468-4119

Links:                                
http://www.toyota.com/community                             
http://www.toyota4education.com
http://www.pressroom.toyota.com

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