TIC teacher wins 2013 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

A teacher from Wildwood Middle School in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., is one of 11 recipients of the 2013 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators for her work with Trout in the Classroom in partnership with the Winchester Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Carolyn Thomas started her TIC project three years ago with a $1,000 grant from Ecolab Foundation to purchase the aquarium and other equipment.

The next year she got a $10,000 grant from Toyota Tapestry and led a research project with her students to determine whether the trout raised in their TIC tank could thrive in Flowing Springs stream (unfortunately, they couldn’t).

This year she received a $10,000 grant from Dominion Educational Partnership to have her students compare Flowing Springs stream with Beaver Creek in Washington County, Md., which has been partially restored to support trout.

In an interview in the Winter 2013 issue of TROUT magazine, Thomas said, “Having fish in the classroom led to questions about what they need and how it connects with people. Then it led the students outdoors — where more and more kids around the country need to be. None of it would have been possible without the first TIC aquarium.”

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, given out by the White House Council on Environmental Quality in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers and their local education agencies across the United States for excellence in integrating environmental education into their lessons and connecting students with their communities and the natural world. Award recipients and their local education agencies will receive commemorative certificates and monetary awards to help support and encourage their use of environmental education in their classrooms and schools.

“This award recognizes the outstanding educators in our classrooms who are taking innovative approaches to helping students understand the impact they can have on our physical world,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “The teachers who have earned this award are inspiring our nation’s future leaders to be responsible stewards of our environment, and preparing them to excel in the 21st century economy.”

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The Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited is made up of representatives of the state’s 16 TU chapters.