Carmichaels teacher awarded two grants

Carmichaels teacher awarded $11,000 in grants

December 12, 2012

Toyota and the National Science Teachers Association) awarded Carmichaels Area School District teacher Kevin Willis a $10,000 Toyota TAPESTRY grant for excellence and innovation in science education.

The school district also received a $1,000 GreenWorks! grant from Project Learning Tree, the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation.

Willis was one of 50 teachers from across the nation selected to receive the TAPESTRY grant this year, which marks the 21st anniversary of Toyota’s and NSTA’s efforts to support educators who are making a difference by demonstrating distinction and creativity in science education through the Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers Program.

Willis’ proposal calls for students to work on a restoration project along the Carmichaels Area Nature Trail by cultivating native plants in a greenhouse, and then transferring them to the trail to replace invasive plant species that threaten the local ecosystem.

They also will be tasked to publish information about the project through brochures, video and the Internet to help educate the public about the value and the diversity of the native plants in the area. Students will gain a better understanding of how to conduct a scientific investigation, as well as how to help protect their local environment.

Over the course of 21-year history of the TAPESTRY program, Toyota has provided more than $10 million in grants and touched tens of thousands of students nationwide.

The Green Works! grant will be tied into the project funded by the TAPESTRYgrant.

“Invasive species are degrading natural ecosystems across the country,” Willlis said. “This service-learning project will combat this threat in our community through awareness, education, advocacy, and action of our school.”

With the grant, high school students will propagate native plant species in a greenhouse and use them to restore the natural ecosystem along a section of the Carmichaels Nature Trail.

Forty environmental science high school students will research invasive species in the local area and collaborate with university professors, state environmental agencies, and natural resources professionals to design and implement a habitat restoration plan using native vegetation.

They will survey and remove invasive species surrounding the nature trail, and re-vegetate the area with the help of elementary students who also will help raise native plant species from seeds or cuttings.

Students will design and create a trail guide to help their community understand the threats of invasive plants, and the importance of using native plants in landscaping.

This grant was one of 29 grants awarded to schools and youth organizations in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Jon Stevens was the Observer-Reporter’s Greene County bureau chief. During his 41 years with the O-R, he covered county government, courts and politics, and won statewide and regional writing awards.

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