NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oregon II
April 5 – 20, 2017
Mission: Experimental Longline Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Gulf of Mexico
Date: March 29, 2017
I live in Arkansas and the weather is probably changing as I am typing this! It is Spring so that means our weather is unpredictable. Today we woke up to red creepy skies and predictions of severe thunderstorms. As I am writing this it is 75 and we are still waiting to see if any storms pop up. I am fine with storms, just keep the tornadoes away!
Hi all! My Name is Karen and I am the K-12 Gifted and Talented teacher for the Lavaca School District in Lavaca, Arkansas. I have the best job because I am on the move all day working with students from all grade levels. I have an BSA in Animal Science, Master’s degrees in Teaching and Gifted, Talented and Creativity. I am able to utilize my degrees and my personal background to create activities for my students that keep them moving and their brains working. I feel that my participation in the NOAA Teacher at Sea program is setting an important example for my students about stepping out of one’s comfort zone to chase a dream.
Science and Technology Log
In just a few days I will join the crew of the Oregon II for the start of their second research trip of 2017. You’ll notice that this trip is referred to as an “experimental” longline survey. This is because our trip is happening earlier in the year than the normal longline surveys. The scientists will be experimenting with some different methods and its earlier in the year so everyone will be anxious and excited to see what types of sharks and fish are brought on board over the two weeks at sea…
I have only been a teacher for 5 years. I spent several years as a Water Quality Technician working with farmers and poultry growers to manage the nutrient content in their soil and protect water sources. I then was blessed with some great adventures working for the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Women in the Outdoors Program in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I also spent many years as a poultry farmer. I went back to school in 2011 and began teaching in 2012 while finishing my Masters of Art in Teaching. I taught seventh and eighth grade science for three years and then was chosen to fill an opening for Gifted and Talented teacher in the district. I completed my Master’s in Gifted and Talented and Creativity this past December.
My past job experiences have provided me many great ideas that I use in my classroom. I also believe in the power of networking and I use my network of contacts to gather information, activities or speakers for my classes. I have always been interested in biology and had a love of animals. As a teacher I continue to lean towards professional development that focuses on science and then I add other components to make some very creative lessons for my students.
It was during a professional development session 4 years ago that I first learned about the NOAA Teacher at Sea program. I looked at the application process and considered applying, but my oldest son was in high school sports, my youngest wasn’t quite old enough for me to want to be gone that long, I just got married….there was always an excuse. Each year I looked and considered and I waited. This past November I talked to my family and if filled out the application. I remember sitting and deciding whether to hit submit when it was all done. I took a deep breath and submitted! Then I tried not to think about it.
Fast forward to February 1 of this year… I walk into my classroom and turn on my computer and there is an email from NOAA. I was afraid to open it. When I saw the message that I had been selected I think I sat with my mouth hanging open. I kept reading it thinking surely the wording was going to change and they were going to let me down easy. I remember texting my husband and telling him I had been chosen and asking him what I was going to do and his response was “ You’re going to go, of course!” It really did take a week for it to sink in that I was going to be a part of the class of 2017.
I completed all of the requirements as quickly as possible because I couldn’t wait to see which research trip I would be matched with. Within just a few weeks I was matched with a research cruise heading into the Gulf of Mexico and we would be doing studies with sharks. I realized I had just under 4 weeks to get everything in order and report to the ship. Of course I had to make it more complicated by having a huge networking event at school with 38 speakers and a SKYPE with NOAA Teacher at Sea Program to pull off, a 7 day cruise for spring break that we had already had on the calendar, a couple Quiz Bowl tournaments with my students plus squaring away things at home. Did I mention our mare is due to foal any day and that one of the dogs is diabetic and has to have insulin twice a day? Let’s just say the weeks have flown by. Thank goodness my husband and kids are awesome and my friends rock because it will all be lined out before I leave next week.
I cannot even find words to express my appreciation to NOAA for offering me as an educator this opportunity. I am excited that I will get to share my time with the scientists and the things I learn with not only my students but with many schools in my area. One more week and I will be setting foot on the Oregon II and praying for calm seas!
Did You Know?
Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world’s protein consumed by humans. This makes the health of our ocean vitally important even if you do not live near the ocean.