Transformational Learning in the Amazon

Meet the Faculty

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Christa Dillabaugh - Director, Amazon Rainforest Workshops
Christa has a degree in biology with emphasis in science/environmental education from Purdue University. As a middle school science teacher in Bexley, Ohio, she traveled to one of the first Amazon Rainforest Workshops for Educators in 1993. Nearly every year since then she has teamed with other science specialists to lead groups of students and teachers in hands-on rainforest field study trips to the tropics. She has also worked as a free-lance science consultant to Pearson Education and Discovery Communications, contributing to curriculum and activity guides as well as educator in-service workshops and training materials focusing on STEM and Understanding by Design in the science classroom.

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Kelly Keena, PhD – Blue Lotus Consulting and Evaluation
Kelly is the co-founder of Blue Lotus Consulting & Evaluation; a small firm focusing on supporting programs that engage people through the environment. Kelly's background includes field work and administration in environmental education, international study of cultural geography and the environment, formal classroom work as a licensed science teacher and instructional coach, two honorarium faculty positions working with pre-service teachers in science methods of instruction, and research regarding children's connection to nature in green schoolyards using participatory research methods.

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Allen (Al) Stenstrup - Former Director of Education Programs for Project Learning Tree
Al has more than 35 years of experience in the field of education. As Director of Education Programs for Project Learning Tree (PLT), Al directed the development and implementation of PLT's curriculum materials across the country and internationally with PLT state coordinators and other partners. Al recently published a book Diminishing Resources – Forests that highlights the planet’s changing forests and what people are doing to manage this resource. In 2010, he received the award Outstanding Service to Environmental Education at the Global Level from the North American Association for Environmental Education for his work in 18 countries across the world.

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Stephen (Steve) Madigosky, EdD - Professor of Biology & Environmental Science at Widener University
In addition to his academic teaching at Widener, Steve is also Director of Research at the Amazon Conservatory of Tropical Studies (ACTS) in Iquitos, Peru. Aspects of tropical biology and conservation have been his focus for nearly two decades. As a researcher, he has been investigating the biochemical dynamics of select compounds in tropical plants and animals. The crux of his work centers on understanding how organisms obtain chemical protection from their diets. In addition, Steve is conducting a long term study and detailed climatic profile of the forest layers surrounding the ACTS field station. Also active in science education, he has obtained nearly one million dollars in grants over the past decade to support educational programs to increase science literacy among K-16 teachers and students.

 

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Randy Morgan - Curator Emeritus of Invertebrates for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Randy holds an M.S. in entomology from the University of Wisconsin and his work managing a Leaf-Cutting Ant Colony earned the Zoo a Significant Achievement Award issued by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. This recognition was preceded by other awards in 1999 for Bullet Ants, in 2000 for the long-term propagation of the Peruvian Fire Stick, and two in 2001 for the long-term propagation and captive management of the Giant Water Bug. While regularly serving as faculty during Amazon Rainforest Workshops since 1991, Randy also led the JASON XV team of scientists in February, 2003 during their Rainforests at the Crossroads expedition to Panama and served as a JASON X researcher in the Amazon in March, 1999.

 

 

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David (Dave) Pearson, PhD - Research Professor, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Dave’s research is focused on using the interaction of ecology, conservation, ecotourism and education to develop methods that promote sustainable use of biodiversity. He has cataloged forty-five years of research and teaching in tropical forests around the world. Dave’s current research concentrates on a small group of insects—tiger beetles—in tropical lowland rain forests around the world. He also works on international environmental education exchanges for graduate students and elementary teachers and students that promote critical thinking skills and appreciation of cultural diversity. He is also the author of 11 books including the Travellers’ Wildlife Guide: Peru.

 

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Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker - Entomologists and Science Communicators, The Bug Chicks
Kristie and Jessica are entomologists who teach about the fascinating world of insects, spider and their relatives. Through videos, digital media and in-person appearances they inspire people to open their minds and learn about these often-maligned animals. Their drive to create fun, accurate science media has led them to work with some amazing organizations: the U.S. Forest Service, Norman Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture, and National Ag Science Center, Microsoft and many more! They inspire people to be brave and realize that different isn't bad. In this vein, they use bugs to teach about prejudice and racism and reaching your full potential.

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Nancy Trautmann, PhD - Director of Education, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Under Nancy’s leadership, the Education Program at the Lab creates resources and opportunities that aim to inspire people of all ages to care about birds and the critical issues facing our environment today. The BirdSleuth Habitat Connections curriculum is one of the resources produced by this team. Nancy’s interests center on curriculum development, teacher professional development, and interactive online learning opportunities that help people build closer connections with nature, learn about birds and the natural world, and participate in citizen science and conservation action. Curricula she has published include Birds Without Borders (Carte Diem Press); Citizen Science, Decay & Renewal, Assessing Toxic Risk, Invasion Ecology, and Watershed Dynamics (National Science Teachers Association), Biodiversity: The Keystone to Life on Earth (California Education and the Environment Initiative); and Composting in the Classroom (Kendall Hunt).

Our Founder

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Frances Gatz, PhD - Founder, Amazon Rainforest Workshops
Frances Gatz directed the first annual Amazon Rainforest Workshop for Educators in the Peruvian Amazon in July 1992, involving a spirited faculty of biologists from zoos, universities, and botanical gardens.  In 2004 her organization Environmental Expeditions expanded the workshops to serve students as well as K-12 educators.  Earlier, Frances completed a doctorate at Indiana University, was the Education Outreach Manager for Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, partnered in the environmental media company EcoVentures, and was a co-creator of the International Ecotourism Society.   In 2007, she began a continuing collaboration with Christa Dillabaugh to enhance teacher professional development in the Amazon Rainforest Workshops.  In recent years Frances chose Christa to succeed her in directing the Amazon programs.