Teachers in the Alcoa Community Join Research Teams With Earthwatch With Support from Alcoa Foundation

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Alcoa Foundation awards four teachers to receive fellowships for scientific research expeditions in Canada, Costa Rica, and France.

Alcoa Foundation announced today in partnership with Earthwatch Institute that four teachers from communities in which Alcoa operates have been selected to receive fellowships for scientific research expeditions in Canada, Costa Rica, and France. Earthwatch is a non-profit environmental organization, whose mission is to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

The fellowship recipients are:

  •     Shawn Kerr -Alcoa Middle School, Tennessee
  •     Mélanie Levesque - École secondaire Serge-Bouchard, Québec
  •     Wesley Lombardo -Maryville Junior High School, Tennessee
  •     Luke McKenzie - Porus High School, Jamaica

Through Earthwatch’s education fellowship program Teach Earth USA, the teachers will participate on week-long Earthwatch expeditions, from the San Isidro de Peñas Blancas region of Costa Rica, to the Arctic’s edge in Canada, and the La Grande Sassière Nature Reserve in the French Alps. They will research climate change, carbon sequestration, and other ecosystem services by collecting data using an assortment of techniques, including monitoring camera traps that identify mammals in Costa Rica and measuring greenhouse gases in the Arctic permafrost.

“It is rewarding for Alcoa Foundation to support educators from around the globe through this unique science research expedition with Earthwatch Institute,” said Esra Ozer, President, Alcoa Foundation. “We believe in the impact great teachers have in the classroom and hope this experience will help inspire them to dive deeper into environmental topics.”

“We consider educators to be a critical audience, as they have the ability to influence the minds of tomorrow,” said Larry Mason CEO, Earthwatch. “We are delighted to have the support of Alcoa Foundation in our efforts to provide more experiential learning opportunities for educators.”

Shawn Kerr, a teacher from Alcoa Middle School who will travel to Costa Rica this summer, feels that the fellowship opportunity will “better prepare me to teach science to the future caretakers of planet Earth. As a science educator, I find it imperative to show my students how today’s actions will affect their own world of today and tomorrow.”

The expeditions are:

  •     Tracking Costa Rica’s Mammals: Recommending conservation strategies and policies based on interviews with Costa Rican farmers and population assessments of mammals in the Paso de Las Nubes Biological Corridor.
  •     Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge: Gathering data on the impacts of melting permafrost and the shift of trees in northern ecosystems, which demonstrates significant changes to a fragile ecosystem.
  •     Of Mountains and Marmots: Monitoring marmots in the French Alps to make valuable research connections between climate change and changing marmot populations.

Upon returning home from their expedition, the teachers will share their experience with their local community and classroom in the form of curriculum ideas, lesson plans, and community action plans.

To find curriculum ideas, lesson plans, and resources inspired by other Teach Earth USA experiences in the fields of wildlife, ecosystems, ocean health, climate change, and archaeology, visit Earthwatch’s Education Lesson Plans.


Alyssa Corbett

Alice Pak Truscott

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately $470million. Founded 62 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $590 million. In 2013, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow's leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa's thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company's signature Month of Service program, in 2013, a record 62 percent of Alcoa employees took part in nearly 1,300 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 505,000 people and 1,900 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

About Earthwatch Institute
Founded in 1971, Earthwatch is an international environmental organization whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Our vision is a world in which we live within our means and in balance with nature. Earthwatch currently supports 60 environmental research projects in 30 countries by providing funds and paying volunteers who work alongside leading field scientists and researchers. In the past 40 years, Earthwatch volunteers have contributed over 10 million hours to essential fieldwork. For more information about Earthwatch, visit earthwatch.org.

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