Lyndon Institute Teachers Awarded Environmental Fellowship

COURTESY PHOTO

Lyndon Institute science teacher Jerri Potter works with students in her biology class.

LYNDON CENTER -- Jerri Potter, a science teacher at Lyndon Institute has been awarded a fellowship to Costa Rica with Ecology Project International. The fellowship is scheduled to begin in March 2014.

Ecology Project International is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve and inspire science education and conservation efforts worldwide through field-based student-scientist partnerships. They offer educational programs in Costa Rica, Galapagos, Mexico, Yellowstone and Belize.

In Costa Rica, the Ecology Project International partners with the Pacuare Nature Reserve and focuses on the protection and study of the critically endangered Leatherback turtle. Fellowship attendees will work with scientists and staff to assist in collecting data on nesting turtles and will participate in nightly beach patrols to observe and protect nesting sites.

The Pacuare Nature Reserve was established in 1989 and consists of 1,050 hectares of tropical rainforest on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The reserve is home to about 30 species of mammals, 230 bird species and many reptiles.

Potter is a 20-year veteran teacher who currently teaches chemistry and biology at Lyndon Institute. She has had a lifelong interest in marine science and ecology, and pursued undergraduate coursework in Cape Cod in conjunction with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and graduate work in Belize (Caribbean Manatee and Barrier Reef studies). She leads a group of Lyndon Institute students every other year on a science field study trip to the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Hawaiian science-based field study is focused on the study of geology (specifically the Hawaiian Archipelago including investigations of volcanic upbuilding, subsidence, erosion, lava types and formations) and marine ecosystems. Many days are spent snorkeling coral reefs and "pond-sized" tidal pools with an emphasis on investigations of the coral reef habitat, diversity, and threats to reef health.

The study coincides with the humpback whale breeding season and a full day is devoted to whale study via rafts. The Big Island also is home to seven major ecosystems and ecosystem identification and diversity are also part of the research. The Lyndon Institute Hawaii Science Field Study is a credited course with students receiving 1/4 science credit upon return from the trip and completion of associated field study assignments.

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