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Audubon awards local teachers for conservation projects

SMOKEY POINT The environmentally conscious efforts of educators in Arlington and Marysville were recognized recently, when the Pilchuck Audubon Society distributed its annual classroom conservation awards for elementary school teachers.
Of the 10 checks for $250 each that were made out this year to Snohomish County public and private school teachers, one went to third-grade teacher Beth Trafton of Pioneer Elementary in Arlington, and another went to fifth-grade teacher Karrie Velasquez of Liberty Elementary in Marysville.
Virginia Clark, a retired Arlington teacher, presented the checks to Trafton and Velasquez Dec. 5. Clark explained that the Pilchuck Audubon Societys goal in giving these awards is to instill in elementary school students a need to conserve and protect natural resources, by supplementing their teachers with funds for conservation and science-related projects learning activities and materials.
Not many teachers apply for this award, which is a shame, because I think there are a lot of teachers out there whose work would qualify, Clark said.
Trafton will use her $250 award to pay for art supplies, book bindings, film developing, laminating and guest-speakers, so that her students can work with their schools art docent to create a field guide for wetland birds, which will then be used by students in the schools outdoor wetlands classes.
Students will be using scientific inquiry models while collaborating with partners to identify specific wetland birds, Trafton said. The project correlates directly with the science grade-level expectations for third grade.
Last year, Traftons students worked with the schools art docent to produce a booklet on wetland plants, which has since become a resource for other students in the schools outdoor wetlands classes.
Velasquez will use her $250 award to help cover $50 of the $90 per-student tuition cost of Camp Killoqua in Stanwood, for those students who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend the outdoor education camp this spring.
According to Velasquez, Camp Killoqua helps students understand and experience the relationship between themselves and the natural environment, increasing their knowledge of ecological concepts and fostering a greater sense of responsibility for the ecosystem.
Our students come back excited about the experiences theyve had and then they get others excited about it, Velasquez said. The concepts are taught in an exciting, hands-on manner, so that students can apply that knowledge to their everyday lives. They also pass it on to fellow students at Liberty, their families and their friends in the community.
Those who wish to apply for the Pilchuck Audubon Societys 2008 classroom conservation awards for elementary school teachers must do so before Nov. 1, 2008. They may e-mail their applications as attached documents to plzalesky@richpoor.net, or send them through postal mail to:
Pilchuck Audubon Society
Laura Zalesky
2433 Del Campo Dr.
Everett, WA 98208
Those with questions may e-mail plzalesky@richpoor.net or call 425-337-2479.

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