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Robert E. Lee - 2008 Mary Stuart Education Award

The Mary Stuart Education Award was established to recognize members, non-members or organizations, for their outstanding achievements in the field of natural history education in the Ottawa Region.

Selecting a recipient for this year's Mary Stuart Education Award was not difficult, because he was not far away. The award goes to our own Rob Lee, leader of the OFNC's junior branch -- the Macoun Field Club -- for the past 16 years. This award is not just for being the leader, certainly worthy of an award in itself, but for having such extraordinary ability to teach natural history and to inspire young people.

Rob is first and foremost an innovative educator who for decades has shown Macoun Field Club youth how to observe and learn for themselves, how to figure out what they are seeing, and how to be resourceful in their pursuit of knowledge. Rob and his students sometimes do extraordinary things. He recently had them dig through ant nests looking for (and finding!) a rare species of aphid.

Why would he do this? Because Rob himself is curious about the ants and the aphid farming they do, and shares this enthusiasm for learning and curiosity about the natural world with the Club members. We wonder whether the parents of the Macoun kids realize what a treasure has been made available to them through the Club. Rob encourages Club members to talk about their discoveries, giving them priceless experience in speaking in front of a crowd; he encourages them to write up their results for the Club's publication, The Little Bear, giving them experience in scientific writing. They participate in Rob's web page, giving them an opportunity to learn about the use of computers in sharing information and researching subjects. He leads them to appropriate books in the Club's own library instilling a love of literature.

The rich world of natural history that Rob introduces to his charges will always remain with them, no matter where their lives take them. Rob Lee is a teacher to be watched and to be emulated, and for this, the OFNC is very pleased to award him this year's Mary Stuart Education Award. Wouldn't Mary have been delighted!

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This page was created 12 June 2009
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