The Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is proud to announce the 2015 Conservation Teachers of the Year.
Individuals are chosen in each category (elementary and secondary) for their exemplary efforts, accomplishments, and commitment to conservation education. Tammy Schreffler of Hambden Elementary School was named the 2015 Elementary Conservation Teacher of the Year and Rachel McKinney of Hershey Montessori School received the 2015 Secondary Conservation Teacher of the Year award.
Both teachers were recognized at the Geauga SWCD Annual Meeting on Nov. 5 and are being nominated for the Ohio Teacher of the Year through the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD).
Tammy Schreffler currently teaches fourth grade at Hambden Elementary. During her 17 years teaching at Hambden, she has also taught the third and fifth grades. Tammy consistently and effectively utilizes Geauga SWCD and other community agencies to enhance and embellish her curriculum.
She offers these opportunities as ways to reinforce the classroom content and increase her students’ comprehension. Through the years, she has offered Geauga SWCD programs to engage her students in natural resource issues such as soil composition and properties, local watersheds, nonpoint source pollution, and community impacts to water quality. She also utilizes the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District for their programs on recycling, hazardous waste, papermaking, and the Great American Cleanup, the country’s largest community improvement program.
Her fourth graders also help implement the recycling program for the entire school and recycle on a weekly basis. Additionally, she provides her students with a variety of field trips to the Holden Arboretum and Lake Metroparks for hands-on science and social studies programs. Tammy is passionate about enabling each student to reach his or her fullest potential and fosters a community of responsible, independent learners. Her genuine, nurturing styles, along with hands-on and engaging lessons, contribute to each child’s successful learning.
Rachel McKinney has been teaching at Hershey Montessori Farm School in Huntsburg since 2002, serving as the Farm Manager and Guide. She teaches ninth and tenth grade sciences and developed the land-based Biology and Upper School curriculums. Throughout the school year, Rachel guides her students to generate questions and analyze the science needed to find answers and understand increasingly important issues.
Each year, her students inventory the diversity of species on their property and record their findings into a database. They also conduct independent research projects related to topics of study. Some of this year’s projects include the production of biochar to sequester carbon in the soil, comparing the growth rates of organic and nonorganic seeds, and methods to improve pH of their waste water treatment pond. Rachel even used the remodeling of a student residence building as a unique opportunity for her students to consult with the architect and research green building designs, materials, and considerations.
Each year her students also research a relevant issue of human impact on the environment, then host an annual colloquium, inviting parents, neighbors, local professionals, and experts. This special event is filled with presentations and discussions of their research findings on important topics like waters of the Great Lakes Basin, oil and gas production in Northeast Ohio, and local food issues to name a few. With an open mind and compassionate heart, Rachel possesses a vast amount of talent and passion to help others learn.
Both Tammy Schreffler and Rachel McKinney are creative, talented, and dedicated educators who make Geauga County proud! Congratulations to Tammy and Rachel for being chosen as Geauga SWCD’s Conservation Education Teachers of the Year.