Educators Explore the Amazon!


Thirty educators from across the US departed for the Amazon last week to participate in a unique professional development program – The 2013 Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest sponsored by EcoTeach and Amazon Rainforest Workshops.

2012 Educators in the Amazon

2012 Educators in the Amazon

As travelers, participants are immersing themselves in one of the world’s most astonishing and important ecosystems – the tropical rainforest. As educators, they are seeking insight into what makes the Amazon special and are crafting ideas for how to convey what they learn to their students, colleagues, and communities. As individuals, they are fulfilling life long dreams, taking unexpected journeys, and stretching comfort zones.   

In preparation for their exploration of the Amazon, the 2013 Academy facilitators asked participants to reflect on the items listed on “How to be an Explorer How to be an Explorer of the Worldof the World” from the book of the same title by Kari Smith. 



Here are some of their responses:

“This list speaks to me in many ways. I can imagine myself doing each of these while in the Amazon. To truly experience the Amazon, your senses are heightened and stimulated to the MAX. There is so much to experience that I will need to slow down. My normal fast paced, overworked, micromanaged lifestyle will not work in this place. I would miss everything.”

“I would add - become one with your inner sponge! Absorb everything not just what you see. Absorb the smells, sounds, and textures of this wondrous world around you.”

“I could use this list with my students to help them understand what it means to LEARN. Learning is not just reading words on a page. It is not just completing a homework assignment. Learning is experiencing, understanding, and getting involved with how my world works.”    

“I would add be brave and take risks to the list. Sometimes we must act out of our ordinary path to make inspiring discoveries.”

“What a great list, I love it!  I want to post this in my room to remind my students of the ingredients to the magic of the world. Getting students to slow down and notice the world around them, while forming questions and dialogue is one of the many hard, but magical, things about teaching science.  In my own life I have made a more concerted effort to slow down and live in the moment.  I myself notice such a difference in the quality of my day when I do so.”  


During their time in the Amazon, participants in the 2013 Educator Academy in the Amazon will be using the Amazon as a classroom to explore best practices in science education, including inquiry, 5E instruction, STEM, place-based learning, and more.  Throughout the program, the Amazon will be their source of inspiration and wonder.  Each day will bring new discoveries as they learn more deeply how to be “explorers of the world” and make plans for bringing their new knowledge and insights back to their students!

From June 25 to July 25, you can follow the Academy participants as well as student explorers through the Amazon via the Amazon Rainforest Workshops Facebook page.  Join the adventure and help support Amazon Awareness Month, 2013.  Then join us in Peru in 2014 for our next Amazon Educator Academy!


Christa Dillabaugh is our Education and the Rainforest Editor. A former middle school and high school science educator, she coordinates experiential field programs for educators and students in the rainforests of Central and South America. She currently serves as education director for Amazon Rainforest Workshops and loves traipsing through rainforest mud in search of teachable moments! You can read her Amazon field notes at