Ecological Society of America

High School Educators’ Ecological Literacy and Research Day

On Wednesday, August 6, there will be a High School Educators’ Ecological Literacy and Research Day held during the (ESA) Ecological Society of America’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Milwaukee.  The events of the day are open to registrants of the ESA Annual Meeting.

The ESA Educator Literacy and Research Day focuses on how high school educators can integrate ecological literacy and research into their teaching practice and answer the question:  Just what is ESA doing to link ecological literacy, research and the high school educator?


This day-long event begins with an orientation to ESA and the program for the day.  Next, you are off to the morning Symposium: Ecological Literacy for All presented by leaders in the field of ecology that help you find your ecological “voice.”  Then enter into a discussion of your findings with your peers. 

Next on the agenda is a lunch-time discussion (by invitation only) on how ecological literacy and research can be incorporated into the curriculum followed by the Plenary Session, Advances in Research presented by Diane Ebert-May of Michigan State University. In the afternoon take part in a hands-on workshop, Population Halved AS Invasive Mussels Rule presented by Dr. Russell Cuhel, a microbiologist from the UWM-Great Lakes WATER Institute, to explore how to utilize ecological issues to do real research in the classroom. From there, wind your way to OOS 17: Training Biology Teachers in Ecological Research. Immediately after this presentation, a full complement of papers in ecology and education await at the poster session. We regroup with a hearty wrap up discussion and a reception.

AGENDA:  Enhancing Ecological Thought by Linking Research and Education


7:00 AM-8:00 AM
Part 1: Opening Educator Breakfast: Inquiry Approaches to Incorporating Ecological Principles into the Classroom:  Linking Research and Education (by invitation only)
This session, with its breakfast, is the formal opening of the ESA Teacher Strand for twenty- five regional high school educators. This session sets the stage for educators to present their needs regarding improving their ability to incorporate ecological literacy and research into their instructional practice and what ESA can do to help them meet these needs. An overall research question is set for the day: How can ecological literacy and research be incorporated into the high school curriculum?

What is ESA and What Can It Do For You? 
Organizer:       Dave Oberbilling
Co-organizer:  DC Randle

    Katherine Mc Carter, ESA Executive Director, and
    Lou Gross, 2008 ESA Conference Chair,

What is ESA and What Can It Do For You?
Norm Christensen, ESA President

ESA Education and Diversity Programs,
Teresa Mourad, Director of Education and Diversity Programs, ESA

What Are We Doing Today to Link Ecological Literacy, Research, and Education?
Meg Lowman, ESA VP of Education and Human Resources

Where Are We Going and Why?
Caroline Joyce, Teacher Day Moderator, WATER Education, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee;
    DC Randle, High School Teacher, St. Francis School District, ESA EHRC, MN;
    Dave Oberbillig, High School Teacher Missoula County Public Schools, ESA EHRC

ESA Teacher Packs & Ecological Research, and Education,
Jennifer Doherty, University of Pennsylvania, EHRC Student Section rep

ESA Educator Day Discussion I: What is ESA and What Can It Do For You?
Christopher Beck, ESA Education Section Chair

    Participants gather in six groups to discuss the question: What is ESA and What can it do for you?

8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Part 2:  SYMP 12: Ecological Literacy for All

Participants will attend the symposium Ecological Literacy for All to join in a scholarly and visionary look at the vital topic of ecological literacy for all citizens. They will be encouraged to examine why a strong and clear voice about universal ecological literacy from the ecological community will contribute to the broader educational movements for environmental citizenship and sustainability in important ways. Teachers will specifically examine the need for ecologists to provide a clear vision from the field, to connect to other disciplines and look to the future and consider if they too are part of that voice.
Teachers then will listen to the following orals before attending an open discussion with their peers.

8:00 AM


Ecological literacy: What do we mean and how did we get here?
Carol A. Brewer, University of Montana, Brooke McBride, University of Montana, Diane Smith, Montana State University, Alan R. Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

8:30 AM


Essential elements of ecological literacy and the pathways needed for all citizens to achieve it
Alan R. Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Carol Brewer, University of Montana, Brooke McBride, University of Montana

9:00 AM


Ecological literacy and environmental education
Bora Simmons, National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education

9:30 AM


9:40 AM


Ecological literacy and science education
Charles W. Anderson, Michigan State University

10:10 AM


Ecological Literacy as Currency for Innovation
Dayna Baumeister, The Biomimicry Guild

10:40 AM


Ecological literacy and fostering conversation and engagement in the human ecosystem
Chris Boone, Arizona State University, Steward T. A. Pickett, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Mary L. Cadenasso, UC Davis

11:00 AM-12:15 PM  Informal Discussion and Lunch (by invitation only)
Part 3 ESA Educator Day Discussion: How Can Teachers and Students Develop an Ecological Voice?

Organizer:  Graduate GK-12 Fellows organized by Jennifer Doherty
Organizer:     Doug Glasenapp


Based on the research question suggested at the breakfast (How can ecological literacy and research be incorporated into the high school curriculum?) teachers will work in small groups hosted by ESA members to dialogue about how their students can develop an Ecological voice based on what they learned from the symposium and orals and how they can incorporate ecology into their teaching practice. There views will be shared with the larger group with in this session.


Table Topics:

Table # 1     ESA & Science Education Standards, Doug Glasenapp, Rufus King High School, Milwaukee WI
Table # 2    ESA Teacher Packs for ecology, Jennifer Doherty,University of Pennsylvania, EHRC Student Section
Table # 3    ESA & No Child Left Behind, Dave Oberbillig, Missoula County Public Schools, ESA EHRC
Table # 4    ESA Web Resources: How ESA can serve teachers better through web resources? DC Randle, St. Francis School District, ESA EHRC, MN
Table # 5    Water Quality Testing: How can teachers incorporate water quality testing into their curriculum? Caroline Joyce, WATER Education, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Table # 6    Prepared Programs and Ecological Literacy: How can they be used to support Ecological Literacy? Al Stenstrup, American Forest Foundation, Washington D.C.


12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Part 4: Plenary Talk: Advances in Research— Diane Ebert-May
Participants will attend this session to gain background and an overview on research in ecology. This session will lay the groundwork for the hands-on workshop presented later in the day.

1:30 PM – 3:10 PM
ESA Educator Day Hands-on-Workshop: Population Halved As Invasive Mussels Rule
Dr. Russell Cuhel, Scientist University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER Institute.
Teachers will use inquiry to and research techniques to collect real data from field research done by Dr. Russell Cuhel.  He will present a problem from his own research on competing populations that can be measured to explore their impact.  The Problem: The volume of prey fish in Lake Michigan has crashed at the same time numbers of invasive mussels have exploded.  Biologists are worried about what the mussel explosion could do to Great Lakes’ multibillion-dollar fishing industry. How can the problem be examined and reported on?  Teachers will use hands-on research techniques learn to collect, catalog, analyze, and present poster findings. All research techniques can be transferred to other field situations.

3:20 PM – 4:40 PM
Organizer: Caroline Joyce, UW-Milwaukee JASON Project and Great Lakes Sturgeon Bowl

Part 5: Training Biology Teachers in Ecological Research
Teachers will participate in OOS 17: Training Biology Teachers in Ecological Research to consider how many science classes lack the authenticity that makes science meaningful and exciting. Further they will explore how to teach science using inquiry techniques utilizing the environment as an educational context.  The teachers then will explore how not only to work in the field, but what to do with the data they collect there. This session stresses the importance of collecting data, follow-through data analysis, through the development of conclusions, to writing up results. Teachers will also be encouraged to consider working with computer modeling to present complex ecological topics to students.

3:20 PM – 4:40 PM

3:20 PM


Teachers and Pitfall Trapping Experimentation across 5 LTER sites
Andrew Moldenke, Oregon State University

3:40 PM


Teachers on the Prairie: Models of schoolyard adaptations of ecological research
John C. Moore, Colorado State University, Kimberly Melville-Smith, Colorado State University

4:00 PM


Teachers in the Desert: Creating ecological research opportunities for teachers and students on the US-Mexico border
Stephanie V. Bestelmeyer, Asombro Institute for Science Education, Rink Somerday, Asombro Institute for Science Education

4:20 PM


Teachers in the Woods: Qualitative conceptual modeling, research experiences and conceptual change
Marion Dresner, Portland State University

4:40 PM


Bringing current ecological research to the classroom through inquiry-based activities that utilize actual scientific methods
Larisa R. G. DeSantis, University of Florida and Florida Museum of Natural History

5:00 PM – 6:30 PM 
Part 6: ESA Poster Session with a Focus On Teachers and Ecology
This session will feature posters on ecology education.

6:30 PM
Part 7: Wrap-Up Discussion:  What Did We Learn? How can Teachers and Students Develop an Ecological Voice?
This is a short wrap-up that begins with the opening question and what teachers have learned thoughout the day about Linking Research and Education. How can ecological literacy and research be incorporated into the high school curriculum?


7:00 PM    Mixer and Appetizers