Mass Audubon Honors 2022 Conservation Teachers of the Year
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA—Mass Audubon has honored educators in New Bedford, Westhampton, and Attleboro as 2022 Conservation Teachers of the Year. Nature-based education is central to the mission of Mass Audubon, the largest nature conservation organization in New England.
Honorees include Jocelyn Chin, who teaches grades 5-8 at Our Sisters’ School in New Bedford; Tara O’Brien, who teaches grades 9-12 at Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton; and the Fifth Grade Team at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro.
The awards, which come with $1,000 gifts to be used to support the teachers’ programs, will be presented at Mass Audubon’s Annual Meeting, taking place at the Museum of Science in Boston on Wednesday, November 2.
As Head of the Science Department at Our Sister’s’ School, Jocelyn Chin has overseen and been directly involved with students in hands-on learning, including installing an outdoor classroom, greenhouse, and gardens to deepen their understanding of curriculum. She has also urged students to be justice focused and community engaged, including organizing a campaign to ban balloon releases in the City of New Bedford.
Environmental Science teacher Tara O’Brien utilizes Hampshire Regional High School’s location in the Connecticut River Valley to engage her students in “outdoor classroom” opportunities in the surrounding fields, woods, and streams of Westhampton. One example: Students raised and released fish for a state-run “head start” program. O’Brien has also been an early adopter in prioritizing climate change education and has served as an advisor to five Western Mass. Youth Climate Summits.
Coelho Middle School science teacher Brenda Ciccio and her Attleboro colleagues worked with their students to develop a Junior Conservationists program to focus on place-based science and civics lessons. This interdisciplinary program also aligns with appropriate state science standards, and incorporates inquiry and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) educational techniques for real-world learning.
Mass Audubon Senior Director of Education and Engagement Kris Scopinich said the 2022 honorees “have demonstrated teaching excellence in science and civics; a deep appreciation for connecting to community; and are emblematic of educators across the Commonwealth who understand that science can help students better understand the world as the climate changes—and take action to make a difference for our future.”
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 160,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.