Transformative outdoor experiences are instrumental in the development of a student’s scientific identity and therefore scientific literacy.”
Ben Graves initially pursued a career in conservation biology and environmental research. Yet, after working in several US National Parks and for an international conservation organization in the Andes, he came to a realization that if he truly wanted to conserve our planet’s natural resources, he needed to focus on education. “As a researcher at Yellowstone, the best part of my day was interacting with the public. I looked forward to talking about why the small mammals were the real drama in the park – not the wolves the tourists had come to see.”
Ben earned a BS and an MS in earth systems science from Stanford University, where he was also the Head Program Teaching Assistant for the Earth Systems department and a volunteer at Stanford’s Biological Preserve and the Eastside School. Ben has led or taken part in numerous environmental education initiatives with youth in National Parks. He has worked on trail crews in Denali National Park and Lake Clark National Park in Alaska; taught in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where he worked with students on inquiry-based science projects in the outdoors; and continues to lead high school volunteers in trail construction projects with the Student Conservation Association. Ben’s experiences in the classroom and with field-based science instruction led him to present his findings at the North American Association of Environmental Education conference.
Ben will be beginning his career as a secondary science teacher at Paonia High School in Paonia, Colo. He is excited at the opportunity to integrate the community and the environment into his classes. Ben spends much of his free time outdoors, “working with my hands in the beautiful public land that surrounds our rural western community.” Much of Ben’s food comes from his own garden. When he is not tending it, he is out riding a bike, exploring a canyon or climbing a mountain.