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Andrea Howard, Mary Stuart Education Award 2004

Andrea Howard, Education Coordinator of the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum (EOBM), has been chosen to be the first recipient of the Mary Stuart Education Award for her outstanding, innovative approaches to teaching a variety of natural history topics. This new award has been established for members, non-members or organizations in recognition for outstanding achievements in the field of natural history education in the Ottawa Region. The new Education Award was appropriately named in honour of Mary Stuart, who was so passionately interested in establishing a new generation of young naturalists.

Andrea Howard is a very gifted, knowledgeable and effective teacher who has been the education coordinator at the EOBM in Kemptville ever since the museum came into being over 5 years ago. In that capacity she has developed innovative natural history programs presented at the museum and at various venues around the North Grenville community and in Ottawa. Andrea brings to her position of education coordinator, a unique background in classroom teaching, science (B.S. Queens University), drama (B.A. Queens University and active in local theatre group) and environmental advocacy (worked for Pollution Probe).

Andrea has developed her own series of creative, exciting and accurate biodiversity modules, collectively called "Museum in a Suitcase" which she brings into various classrooms or classroom-like situations. These programs include "Secret Life of the Forest" - the biodiversity of decomposition, "Climate Change" - biodiversity and global warming, "Life Cycles & Seasonal Adaptations" - biodiversity of survival, "Introduction to Taxonomy" - classification of biodiversity, "Bugwatch/Insects" - biodiversity of insects. Each program she skilfully adapts to the particular teacher and classroom situation by consultations with the teacher in question. Something that the EOBM is particularly proud of is the literacy program that Andrea created and implemented for local high school students having reading difficulties. The subject matter employed was of course natural history.

Andrea has also developed and implemented professional development programs for teachers, helping them also to explore the possibilities of the immediate neighbourhood, especially the the school grounds.

Andrea always seeks to learn more by asking appropriate professionals for help and advice and having them vet her syllabus. She reads constantly to upgrade her knowledge and all of this is reflected in the timely and lively content and presentations in her classes. She has an excellent rapport with her students and their teachers. For all the above reasons and many more, we have chosen Andrea Howard for this year's Education Award.

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