Grade(s): 9 / 10 / 11 / 12
I began teaching high school here at Bristol Bay Borough High School in 2004. I came to Alaska to work for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in May 2001. My first field assignment was to work in a remote field camp: Mother Goose Lake is approximately 600 km southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula. My field duties at Mother Goose Lake were to assist in the set up of three bird banding stations and a small mammal trapping grid that we were going to run that summer. Mother Goose was part of the North American Bird Banding Program and breeding bird survey. Birds were banded at Mother Goose Station for nine years before the station was closed at the end of my first summer in 2001. Birds were banded with the aluminum bands for migration behaviors and color bands were used to document breeding behaviors.
On the first night our group was called to the lake by a noise. As I bolted from the cabin to the lake, I could only imagine what was going on. I heard excited voices and hurried to find out what was happening. When I got to the lake, to my amazement I saw a pack of wolves stalking a mother moose and her calf. They were trying to split the calf from its mother. Two of the pack members caught the calf, but the wolves were now aware of a brown bear heading at a fast pace toward the calf. The wolves backed off. The calf almost reached its mother and the safety of the far shore. Then like a bolt of lightning, the bear overtook the calf and we all heard a sickening cry as the calf was grabbed by the neck. The bear headed off carrying its kill into the willow thickets as the wolves watched from the distance and the distraught mother moose search desperately for her young calf.
I realized then that all my years of education, field labs, and field work brought me here to witness such an awesome sight. Much of my education consisted of taking field courses and doing research. I didnít realize it at the time, but I was getting a place-based education utilizing inquiry-based lessons. I have since decided that I want to share my love of nature and learning. I have had the opportunity of being in the field and learning by hands-on experience and want to share these types of experiences with my students. Science is observation and inquiry. I feel that students will only learn by actively being involved and engaged in their own learning.