A Savannah Country Day School teacher’s vision of creating an outdoor classroom for teaching wetland biodiversity has earned a $1,000 Teaching Conservation grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The agency recently announced William “Bill” Eswine, science specialist at Savannah Country Day School, as the recipient of the grant given annually to a third- through fifth-grade public or private school teacher in Georgia who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences.
The grant is made possible with funding from The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, friends group of the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section. The section, part of the Wildlife Resources Division, conducts the contest and reviews proposals.
Eswine was selected for his “Bog Diversity – an Outdoor Classroom” proposal, which outlines a plan for transforming a large drainage ditch on the school campus into a bog habitat with bridge access. Eswine says the bog site, although man-made, will allow students to observe and study wildlife that is unique to that type of water environment and learn about a significant, yet often-overlooked natural habitat.
“Most people see (the ditch) as an ugly site and would fill it in, but it really is a unique habitat and we wanted to highlight that for our kids,” said Eswine. “They’re the stewards of the future and we want them to look at things appropriately.”
According to Linda May, environmental outreach coordinator for the Nongame Conservation Section, Eswine’s project will help kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Savannah Country Day investigate nongame wildlife, while encouraging them in the wise use of natural resources.
“We are thrilled to support an exceptional science teacher like Mr. Eswine as he shares Georgia’s diverse natural habitats with his students,” May said.
Through education, research and management, the Nongame Conservation Section works to safeguard and restore Georgia’s diversity of nongame wildlife (animals not legally fished for or hunted), rare plants and natural habitats, while also striving to increase public enjoyment of the outdoors. The agency receives no state appropriations for its nongame work, depending instead on grants, direct donations and fundraisers such as sales and renewals of the state’s eagle and hummingbird license plates.