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Environmental Education Award Presented to Old Town, ME Teacher

Release Date: 06/11/2012
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass.—June 11, 2012) Ed Linsdsey, a teacher at Old Town High School, was recently awarded the President's Innovative Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). Mr. Lindsey is one of two teaches selected to receive this award in EPA’s New England Region.

As discussed in the "America's Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations" report, in order to make environmental stewardship and conservation relevant to young Americans, environmental and place-based, experiential learning must be integrated into school curricula and school facility management across the country. The PIAEE recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

Ed Lindsey teaches chemistry and earth science at Old Town High School and is a participant at Acadia Learning, a partnership that provides professional development and scientific support to teachers who are conducting inquiry-based studies of mercury in ecosystems across New England. Ed’s contributions to the program include implementing innovative teaching strategies and reviewing educational goals and outcomes. Ed encourages a hands-on investigative approach by providing his students with outdoor learning experiences in a “natural laboratory” setting. These outdoor learning experiences help students make connections between real-world observations and abstract concepts presented in the classroom.

A year after joining Acadia Learning, Ed developed a hands-on environmental chemistry course for Old Town High School to teach about mercury, convey core chemistry concepts and demonstrate the usefulness of dragonfly larvae as indicators for mercury in fresh water. During the course, Ed takes his students to the local Sunkhaze National Wildlife Refuge to search for dragonfly larvae. Students learn scientific field practices such as sorting and identifying methods and the Clean Hands-Dirty Hands technique for bagging samples. Ed then takes his students to the University of Maine to deliver their samples and learn about the process of mercury analysis. The students use the analytical data to develop conclusions about the presence of mercury in the watershed and present their results at a student poster symposium attended by scientists and resource managers. Based on the field data, the students define the watershed at the Sunkhaze Refuge involved in the study and calculate how mercury affects their watershed every year.

To help students understand the correlation between important watershed features and the concepts of long-range transport and atmospheric deposition, Ed works with a local pilot to take his students on aerial surveys of the local Penobscot River watershed. Students relate landscape features to concepts learned in the classroom, such as runoff and flow paths, to gain a better understanding of watershed function.

This class engages students in authentic research and provides many students with their first opportunity to work outdoors in a natural laboratory.

Ed has also led a group of high school teachers to redesign and coordinate earth science curricula across schools in five towns. At Old Town High School, Ed led the science teachers in designing, programing, and driving the vision for a new science wing to be built in 2012. He continues efforts to procure service learning grants to continue providing his students with opportunities to learn outdoors in unique settings. His commitment to environmental science includes continuous coordination to find funding and collaborate with researchers, local experts and community organizations.

“EPA is very pleased to present this exceptional teacher with recognition for his hard work and innovation in helping young people gain the skills and knowledge to make a lasting difference in their lives and community,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

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