Alcorn hosts annual K-12 Teacher Ecology Education Workshop

Alcorn hosts annual K-12 Teacher Ecology Education Workshop

Alcorn State University’s Department of Biological Sciences recently hosted its annual K-12 Teacher Ecology Education Workshop.

Dr. Alexander D. W. Acholonu, professor and director of the Ecology Education Program, opened the workshop by welcoming the participants on behalf of the School of Arts and Sciences and the University. He acknowledged the sponsors of the program: Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The program was funded through a grant provided by MDEQ.

“Environmental preservation is a task of utmost importance today,” stated Dr. Acholonu. Mankind must show good stewardship over the use of the Earth’s resources. We must leave a legacy of rational management and sustainability ensuring a safe and healthy environment for future generations.” Addressing the teachers, he said, “It is our responsibility as teachers to inspire young students to seek careers in environmental science. Through our knowledgeable, lively and vivid instruction, we can train them to be aware and responsible for effective policies that protect and preserve the Earth’s delicate biological systems.”

The program contained many hands-on, didactic and audio-visual activities that appealed to the learning styles of every participant and inspired teachers’ excitement and interest. The program’s keynote speaker was Dr. Dottie Tillman, acting branch chief, CEERD-EP-W, WSACE Environmental Labs, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center. During her lecture “Numerical Modeling Consideration to Water Quality and Water Pollution Issues”, Dr. Tillman explained that her laboratories at the Waterways Experimental Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi, focus on “developing and applying predictive mathematical models to solve complex environmental challenges through multi-disciplinary integration of science and engineering.” These numerical models test scenarios that predict the impact of human and natural behaviors on surface water, rivers, estuaries, coastal areas, watersheds and ground water as well as other immediate and related environmental factors such as air pollution and land use. As a result of this research, scientists are better informed to be able to bring about preventive and immediate solutions to water quality issues. “This type of research could be used to determine the feasibility of building a dam and when, where and how it should be constructed considering immediate and long-range environmental impact. Research, such as numerical modeling, also has worldwide implications as we embrace water quality challenges as a global issue.” In her presentation, Dr. Tillman also encouraged the workshop participants to motivate their students to pursue engineering as their major.

The program continued with the teachers watching a video on water quality “The Unclear Future of Clear Creek”, created by the students and teacher of Clear Creek High School. Under the direction of their teacher, students took on personal responsibility to preserve water quality, as they unraveled the causes and solution to the pollution of Clear Creek.

Next, Dr. Acholonu engaged the audience in discussion on “Water, Water Quality and Health.” He talked about water quality standards, the quality of drinking water, the importance and use of clean, fresh water to the health of all living organisms. “Water is a universal solvent that dissolves and carries substances such as nutrients and domestic wastes. As the world population grows, better water management is necessary for continued water supply and conservation.” He reminded that fresh water is only 2.5% of the world’s water. Sources of fresh water come from large reservoirs, rivers, streams and lakes, and groundwater. Freshwater resources must be av