Expanding the field: Cary invites teachers to study ecology at the Institute

Some of the research projects will involve the streams and ponds in eastern Dutchess County. Cary has conducted research into issues plaguing our waterways — such as pollution through medicine dumping and invasive species that have come to sites nearby — and their possible solutions for years.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Expanding the field: Cary invites teachers to study ecology at the Institute

MILLBROOK — Starting this summer, nine math and science teachers will be spending six weeks at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies doing collaborative research in ecosystem science.

They’ll continue meeting throughout the school year, to develop curricula together based on the work and research they conducted over the summer.

Funded by a three-year award from the National Science Foundation as part of the Research Experiences for Teachers Sites in Biological Sciences (BIORETS), the goal of the program is to build teachers’ knowledge and enable them to develop more engaging learning experiences around ecology.

The curricula they’ll develop together will focus on helping students not just to learn about ecology, but also to deepen their understanding of the environmental needs and problems that exist in our current, crisis-state ecological situation.

Such courses have the added bonus of providing students with another entrée into the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).

Cary is currently accepting applications to the program from teachers. They intend to prioritize educators from groups underrepresented in STEM fields, and those who work in schools that serve significant minority populations.

So far, teachers from four under-resourced Hudson Valley school districts, serving both urban and rural populations, have expressed interest in the program. Teachers from across the U.S. are invited to apply, with travel and housing covered. Participating teachers will receive an $8,800 stipend.

Rebecca Van Tassell, program coordinator for Cary BIORETS, emphasized that the program isn’t just for biology teachers: “We would love math teachers to apply. We would love computer science and chemistry teachers to apply.

“The sticky, urgent problems of global change need to be approached through the thinking of many different disciplines so that we can come up with novel solutions.”

Cary Institute is located at 2801 Sharon Turnpike in Millbrook, N.Y.Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Some of the projects that the teachers will explore are related to wildfire, aquatic ecosystems, disease ecology, forests, and nutrient cycling — all issues that Cary has been engaging with consistently.

The teachers will have the opportunity to do projects like creating and running simulations of future forest and fire dynamics, or conducting field surveys of tick density and distribution — a field something Cary had been at the forefront of for many years. They may also explore soil food webs, or identify tree species.

Cary hopes that educators will develop new materials to aid in their instruction in introducing ecological ideas to their students based on their research experiences.

The participants will also be expected to share their research by contributing to a professional publication, presenting at a conference, or conducting workshops in their school districts.

As well as having the support of one another, they’ll also have support from the Cary education staff.

During the ensuing year, Cary will host four virtual meetings supporting the teachers as they unroll their new curricula. They’ll have the opportunity to receive feedback on the teaching stratagems and the materials used to determine the effectiveness of the new methods and materials.

Working together is one of the main points of the program, Van Tassell emphasized: participants will learn through sharing and workshopping ideas. The process is designed to be collaborative.

Cary has worked throughout its 40-year history with educators in creating curricula and fostering professional development. Van Tassell feels that part of the reason Cary BIORETS is unique is that it is tailored to each teacher’s interests and classroom dynamics:

“By letting teachers engage as learners in this authentic and inquiry-based way, we can work with them to develop materials that allow their students to learn in the same way,” she noted.

Latest News

Fresh perspectives in Norfolk Library film series

Diego Ongaro

Photo submitted

Parisian filmmaker Diego Ongaro, who has been living in Norfolk for the past 20 years, has composed a collection of films for viewing based on his unique taste.

The series, titled “Visions of Europe,” began over the winter at the Norfolk Library with a focus on under-the-radar contemporary films with unique voices, highlighting the creative richness and vitality of the European film landscape.

Keep ReadingShow less
New ground to cover and plenty of groundcover

Young native pachysandra from Lindera Nursery shows a variety of color and delicate flowers.

Dee Salomon

It is still too early to sow seeds outside, except for peas, both the edible and floral kind. I have transplanted a few shrubs and a dogwood tree that was root pruned in the fall. I have also moved a few hellebores that seeded in the near woods back into their garden beds near the house; they seem not to mind the few frosty mornings we have recently had. In years past I would have been cleaning up the plant beds but I now know better and will wait at least six weeks more. I have instead found the most perfect time-consuming activity for early spring: teasing out Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle and myrtle, from the ground in places it was never meant to be.

Planting the stuff in the first place is my biggest ever garden regret. It was recommended to me as a groundcover that would hold together a hillside, bare after a removal of invasive plants save for a dozen or so trees. And here we are, twelve years later; there is vinca everywhere. It blankets the hillside and has crept over the top into the woods. It has made its way left and right. I am convinced that vinca is the plastic of the plant world. The stuff won’t die. (The name Vinca comes from the Latin ‘vincire’ which means ‘to bind or fetter.’) Last year I pulled a bunch and left it strewn on the roof of the root cellar for 6 months and the leaves were still green.

Keep ReadingShow less
Matza Lasagne by 'The Cook and the Rabbi'

Culinary craftsmanship intersects with spiritual insights in the wonderfully collaborative book, “The Cook and the Rabbi.” On April 14 at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck (6422 Montgomery Street), the cook, Susan Simon, and the rabbi, Zoe B. Zak, will lead a conversation about food, tradition, holidays, resilience and what to cook this Passover.

Passover, marked by the traditional seder meal, holds profound significance within Jewish culture and for many carries extra meaning this year at a time of great conflict. The word seder, meaning “order” in Hebrew, unfolds in a 15-step progression intertwining prayers, blessings, stories, and songs that narrate the ancient saga of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. It’s a narrative that has endured for over two millennia, evolving with time yet retaining its essence, a theme echoed beautifully in “The Cook and the Rabbi.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Housy baseball drops 3-2 to Northwestern

Freshman pitcher Wyatt Bayer threw three strikeouts when HVRHS played Northwestern April 9.

Riley Klein

WINSTED — A back-and-forth baseball game between Housatonic Valley Regional High School and Northwestern Regional High School ended 3-2 in favor of Northwestern on Tuesday, April 9.

The Highlanders played a disciplined defensive game and kept errors to a minimum. Wyatt Bayer pitched a strong six innings for HVRHS, but the Mountaineers fell behind late and were unable to come back in the seventh.

Keep ReadingShow less