Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Rivers to Reefs 2012
Mission Information
 

Participants in this Expedition

Betty Bates

Betty Bates
9th Grade Environmental Science,
Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High,
   Fort Oglethorpe, GA

I have taught physical and environmentalscience for the past 22 years. I am an Alabama native but have lived all over the South, and have lived in Chickamauga, GA since 1988.
My husband Don and I have three grown children - Emily, Andrew, and James, and two grandchildren.
My hobbies are doing anything outdoors, walking and reading. I must keep in shape to keep up with my children, who have adopted our love of the outdoors. Whenever we can get together, our family can be found hiking or camping. I love to be outdoors and explore new places. As a north Georgia resident, I hope to learn more about south Georgia and its environment. It is totally different from my surroundings.


Sharon Butler

Sharon Butler
Life Science,
Fulton Science Academy,
   Alpharetta, GA

I have been involved with Science Olympiad for many years, which is a nationally recognized program for enhancing science education and stimulating interest in science. Students compete in 23 different science and engineering events. These activities tend to emphasize "doing" and have real life science applications. This past year it was my privilege to be Head Coach of our team. We had a wonderful year taking first place in our regional tournament and second place at the state tournament earning us an invitation to compete at the National Tournament in Orlando, Florida.
I have noticed that students respond more to stories of personal experiences than to information presented in a textbook. I will love sharing the experiences from this workshop with my students in the classroom!


Kerry Carter

Kerry Carter
7th Grade Life Science,
Vickery Creek Middle School,
   Cumming, GA

My 22 years as an educator includes High School and Middle School French and Technology and for the past five years as a Middle School Life Science teacher. I hold a B.A. in French from Virginia Tech, M.Ed. and Ed.S. from the University of West Georgia. I look forward to developing an up close and personal understanding of how our actions impact Georgia's water sources and marine environments. Upon completion of the course, I hope to assist with the Adopt-A-Stream program in my area. Through this experience and collaboration with other participants, I can develop real-world, hands-on activities for my students. Only by understanding the role they play in their own environment will they learn how the individual choices they make impact these ecosystems on a daily basis.


Joseph Denato

Joseph Denato
10th-11th Grade Science,
  AP Environmental Science & Environmental Science
Centennial High School,
   Roswell, GA

I have been teaching high school life science for ten years. Next year I will teach AP Environmental Science. Throughout my career I have taught at several high schools and served administratively. My love of teaching stemmed from coaching, mostly baseball and softball. I received my undergraduate degree at Western Illinois University and my masters/specialist at Cambridge College. My primary interests are outdoor sports that include: kayaking, mountain biking, hunting, backpacking, or any other activity outside. I spend most of my time with my two boys and wife.


Jeff Eller

Jeff Eller
7th Grade Science
J.L. Booth Middle School,
   Peachtree City, GA

I am husband of Karen, father of Noah, Emily, and Abigail, teacher of Science, and a lover of learning. My passion is turning learning into an adventure and being tuned into the needs and processes of learning that my students partake in. My goal is to make the adage "if you teach a man to fish he will never starve" to heart and make learning a process that really makes life livable. My final goal is to do as Colossians 3:23 says and do all I do heartily as for the Lord and not for man. I really enjoy running, cycling, canoeing, and backpacking. As a family we really like being outdoors and camping. It is a lot of fun being outdoors and making learning part of that adventure as well.


Dana Emery

Dana Emery
3rd Grade Science & Social Studies
Todd Grant Elementary,
   Darien, GA

I received my B.A in early childhood education from Armstrong-Atlantic State University and Masters in Special Education from Georgia Southern University. I currently teach reading to special needs students through Science and Social Studies, and believe in hands on learning and making learning fun!


Rob Herrin

Rob Herrin
5th Grade Math & Science,
New Holland Core Knowledge Academy,
   Gainesville, GA

I am a fifth grade teacher at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy, where I have taught for nine years. For the past three years I have taught math and science. I love the outdoors. You can often find me hiking on a trail, out on the boat, or simply creating work in the yard. My most recent adventure was a camping trip at Dry Tortugas National Park. While there we kayaked from Garden Key to Loggerhead Key. What an adventure! In addition to spending time with my wife and two wonderful teens, teaching and the outdoors are the thrills of my life.


Laura Hunter

Laura Hunter
Biology, ESOL Biology & Study Skills, Human Anatomy,
Roswell High School,
   Roswell, GA

I have taught primarily Biology and Human Anatomy for the last few years. Since my background is in Human Anatomy, I am looking forward to new experiences that will expand my familiarity with the Ecology and Chemistry portions of the Biology curriculum. I also look forward to developing more hands on activities for my students based on the Rivers to Reefs experience.



Patty Matthews

Patty Matthews
Art Teacher & Artist,
Richmond Hill Elementary,
   Richmond Hill, GA

As an elementary art teacher, I integrate the classroom science standards into my art units. Richmond Hill is a coastal community and my students spend a majority of their free time on the rivers and islands. I want to inspire them to continue to learn as individuals throughout their lives and to be dedicated stewards of our waters. By participating in the Rivers to Reefs workshop, I hope to gain knowledge and experience so I can bring excitement for our watersheds into my art classroom while instilling in them a personal responsibility for our environment. Because art is such a hands-on subject, it is a perfect place to engage students in learning about our rivers while producing tangible artwork. With the photos, videos, blogs and personal experiences that I will share, I hope to have at least a small impact in shaping my students' global accountability.


Stephanie Miles

Stephanie Miles
Environmental and Earth Sciences,
Villa Rica High School,
   Villa Rica, GA

I have has 17 years teaching experience and have taught Applied Biology and Chemistry I and II, Biology, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Earth Systems. I recently completed my Advanced Placement Environmental Science training for the 2012-2013 school year. I work with the IMPACT Program with the University of West Georgia during the summer teaching elementary level science camps. I hold a B.S. in Earth Science, and M.S. and Specialist's Degree in Secondary Science Education, and am looking forward to beginning my 18th year teaching and my 12th year at Villa Rica High School in Villa Rica, Georgia.


Melissa Niemi

Melissa Niemi
7th Grade Life Science,
Arnold Magnet Academy,
   Columbus, GA

I am a 7th Grade Life Science teacher at Arnold Magnet Academy in Columbus, Georgia. I graduated from Columbus State University and then from Troy State with a master's degree. I have been a teacher for seven years, with five of them in science. I am also a certified Project Wet, Project Wild, and Project Learning Tree facilitator and member of NSTA.


Kathryn Paxton

Kathryn Paxton
11-12th Grade AP Environmental Science,
Chattahoochee High School,
   Jones Creek, GA

I have been teaching for nine years in all subjects in High School Science. Currently I teach AP Environmental Science and Physics at Chattahoochee High School in John's Creek, Georgia. I have a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. My Masters is in Science Education from Georgia State University, and my Specialist is in Curriculum and Learning from Liberty University. I have a love for science and the outdoors and have travelled extensively. I thrive on adventures. My interests consist mostly of outdoor activities, family, and teaching. I have two small children that enjoy nature as much as I do!


Kathryn Paxton

Jasmine Richardson
NOAA Student Scholarship Program Scholar and
   Gray's Reef Summer Intern,
Industrial Technology Student,
  University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Jasmine Richardson, who grew up in Memphis, TN, along the banks of the Mississippi River, chose Gray's Reef NMS as the site for her summer internship because of the ongoing work on watersheds. She was on the job at Gray's Reef from June 4 to July 25 and began devouring background information her very first day on watersheds and in particular on the Altamaha River Watershed which impacts Gray's Reef. Jasmine interviewed research scientists, conservation organizations, educators and resource managers to better understand their roles in watersheds. She investigated alternative practices and chemical choices that agribusiness and households can use to lessen contamination of the watersheds. Jasmine will give her report to the NOAA Student Scholarship Program at the end of July when she meets with her 150+ cohorts in that program in Washington, DC. Her power point presentation is posted on Gray's Reef website under the Education sidebar in the Teacher Materials section.


Shannon Sanders

Shannon Sanders
7th Grade Life Science,
Bonaire Middle School,
   Bonaire, GA

I live in Danville, GA. with my wife Laura and two and a half year old daughter, Lane. Danville is a small farming community where life is relatively slow and gathering at the local convenience store is considered prime entertainment for some. My wife and I both teach school in neighboring Houston County which is home to Warner Robins Air Force Base, a major logistics center for the Air Force. Because of the base, we have the opportunity to teach kids from many varied backgrounds and cultures. I have been teaching for 17 years and recently completed a six year degree in administration. Currently, I teach 7th grade life science which is truly my teaching preference. In fact, I enjoy teaching life science so much that I have no inclination to leave the classroom anytime soon in order to pursue an administrative position. My hobbies include gardening and taking care of my "freak farm." That is the term my wife has coined for our montage of animals made up of chickens, goats, rabbits, and two Labrador retrievers. I also enjoy hunting and fishing. The most important aspects of my life are attending church and spending time with my wife and daughter. These days, our lives seem to revolve around what our daughter Lane wants to do which is perfectly ok with me. Although Lane is only two and a half, Laura and I are trying to instill in her a love for the Lord and an appreciation for the outdoors. Unfortunately, right now she would rather play in the dirt than say her night-night prayers. I am really looking forward to this experience and the opportunities it will afford to deepen my knowledge base in the life sciences.


Jacqui Toner

Jacqui Toner
Environmental Science/Honors Biology,
Cherokee High Schooly,
   Canton, GA

I have been teaching Biology and Environmental Science at Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia for two years. Before becoming a teacher, I worked as a Biotechnologist for Veridex, LLC, in Molecular Diagnostics and Assay Development. I am the mother of two and I enjoy spending time in nature, working out, and time with family.


Cindy Ward

Cindy Ward
2nd Grade,
Covenant Christian Academy,
   Cumming, GA

I have been a Georgia educator for over 20 years and have taught several grade levels and in several schools, both public and private. I am committed to giving my students meaningful instruction and fostering a love of learning that will serve as a strong foundation for their lives. I believe this workshop will benefit my students by equipping me with knowledge and zeal for Georgia ecology, history and marine biology. I anticipate bringing back an increased knowledge, awareness and concern for Georgia's Altamaha River Watershed. My students frequently travel to the coast with their families and spend time on Lake Lanier but have little understanding of where the water comes from or how their lives impact the coastal waterways. I am interested in and excited about how they will benefit from my experience and participation in the River to Reefs Workshop as they too grow to appreciate the rich diversity of our state.


Chandra Westafer

Chandra Westafer
9th Grade Biology,
Central Gwinnett High School,
   Lawrenceville, GA

I received my bachelor's degree in Biology from North Georgia College and State University and completed my master's degree in Science Education at Western Governors University. I also studied Marine Biology and Ecology in Maine, on the Isle of Shoals, through Cornell University and worked as a research assistant for UGA's Marine Research Institute on Sapelo Island, Georgia. I am a true nature lover and am usually found outdoors hiking, fishing, camping, bird watching, or just strolling for pleasure. I have always had a passion for the environment, and am a daily advocate for the same, whether it's at home or online spreading the word to others. I also love exploring, traveling, scuba diving, and collecting and identifying flowers. I live in Duluth with my husband Andy and our two dogs, Macy and Sam. I hope to take the wealth of information I will learn on this journey back to my students at Gwinnett Central with the hopes that they will be inspired to learn about and help improve the environment we all share.


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