The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sponsored an exhibit booth at the 2013 National Science Teachers’ Association Portland Area Conference on October 24, 25, and 26. Over 2,300 educators attended the conference, which offered a variety of professional development opportunities including workshops and an exhibit hall. The conference encouraged teachers to explore new and innovative approaches to teaching science, offering insight into the 45-state Common Core standards and the “Next Generation Science Standards”.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exhibit booth was a truly collaborate effort centered on invasive species education and the ‘Don’t Let it Loose’ campaign. Educators engaged in conversation about the role of introduced species in native ecosystems, along with the responsibilities of lab teachers and pet owners. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service booth was incredibly popular among teachers, and offerings included interactive displays, live support, and educational giveaways. Teachers could choose from a variety of giveaways, including three posters with information on local invaders, Refuge and Service brochures, invasive species stickers, and informational packets on introduced species. This was also the perfect venue to introduce the Aquatic Nuisance Species Education Trunk recently developed by the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office. The exhibitors estimate that more than 700 educators visited the booth over the course of three days. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service booth invited educators to provide feedback through a simple survey. Results indicate that all of the participants learned some interesting facts as a result of the exhibit, and over 50% of them ‘significantly increased their knowledge of natural resources’.
|Trevor Sheffels, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Biotech, put the final touches on the exhibit booth as educators wait to enter the exhibit hall on Thursday morning.|
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exhibit booth was supported by the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Pacific Region Visitors Services, the Pacific Region Aquatic Invasive Species Program, the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office, and made possible with a grant through the Regional Invasives with Volunteers program. All of the planners, coordinators, and exhibitors were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaging. Trevor Sheffels, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Biotech, was a vital exhibitor since he recently completed his PhD on invasive species. Sheffels helped teachers brainstorm about ways to incorporate invasive species into ecology teaching units, and he offered expertise on local issues, including Nutria. Glenda Franich, Pacific Region Visual Information Specialist, participated in powerful conversations sparked by the exhibit. Franich shared “many teachers didn't realize that Hydrilla is an invasive species and so threatening to native plants and aquatic ecosystems. This was all very interesting to me and I thank you for bringing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to the conference and letting teachers know we are working to make the nation/world a better place for people and wildlife.”
Submitted by Kim Strassburg, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge