With each dip of the net, the kids got more excited as the silt settled revealing wriggling dragonfly nymphs. I had taken a group of 75 fourth graders out of New York City upstate to an environmental education center. Some of them had never left the city. Many were a bit scared of spiders or bears or just being away from home. However, once we started dipping for macroinvertebrates, their fears melted away and the fascination set in.
In that moment, a seed was planted for me. I knew I needed to be doing a lot more of this work. So, when I recently moved to Cleveland, the time had come to transition away from classroom education and into informal environmental education. Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) provided just the right home for me to pursue this goal!
My name is Tim Becker, and I am the new Education Program Specialist here at Cuyahoga SWCD. Prior to this position I was a bilingual teacher in the New York City Department of Education. I taught all subjects in the 4th and 5th grades in both Spanish and English over the years with a particular focus on environmental education, such as the camping trip I described above. I have also worked with adult learners facilitating professional development for teachers and leading a masters level course at Bank Street College of Education. In my free time, I am a dedicated balcony gardener, hiker, and amateur naturalist.
All children deserve a chance to explore the natural world around them. As the Education Program Specialist here at Cuyahoga SWCD, I will combine my experience as an educator with my enthusiasm about the natural world to invite all the kids of Cuyahoga County into that adventure. In order to reach more children, I am hoping to develop Spanish language programing, among other projects.
I am so excited to start my journey here at Cuyahoga SWCD, and I look forward to the opportunities ahead to teach and learn about the environment with all the communities of Cuyahoga County!
Blog Author: Tim Becker, Education Program Specialist