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The Courier-Gazette, May 4, 2002

Friendship teacher is top elementary conservation teacher

by Peter Abello

FRIENDSHIP — Carla Eutsler, fourth- through sixth-grade science teacher at Friendship Village School, is being recognized for her innovative incorporation of natural resource conservation into her curriculum. The Education/Envirothon Committee of the Maine Association of Conservation Districts named Eutsler its Elementary School Teacher of the year.

Carla Eutsler

The Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors nominated Eutsler for the award.

Eutsler has taught science at Friendship Village School 13 years. She is a very caring person who is focused on giving clear information to her students, inspiring them through her own energy and her contagious passion about making a difference in today's world.

Students in Eutsler's classes are involved in several conservation-related poster contests each year. One of those is the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District's Annual Conservation Poster Contest that helps students learn about a conservation topic that she said "continues to have curriculum connections throughout the year."

The theme "Habitat For Life" was part of each of her students posters this past year, and one of her students, David Walls, won first place out of 1,000 posters in his division. The message of Habitat For Life also helped her fourth-grade students answer a habitat-related question on the MEA's. Her fifth-grade students also participate in a National Arbor Day Poster Contest that helped them learn about forest and trees. This year's focus of the posters was tree growth.

Eutsler grew up on a Dairy Farm in Parkman, near Gilford. Her family milked anywhere from 40 to 70 head, selling the milk commercially. Like many dairy farms in Maine, the fate of the Parkman Farm ended with the "dairy buyout" in the mid 1970's.

The Holstein and Jersey herd were of great interest to her as a child, but even though she begged her father, she had to wait until 13 before she could help care tor the herd. She became the primary caregiver to the calves, helping raise them into healthy milkers. Her other job on the 350-acre farm was driving the tedder and hay truck to produce the herd's feed. She said the experience growing up with cows on a dairy farm facilitated a love of animals, which lead to her interest in science.

Eutsler attended the University of Maine at Farmington.

When asked how she got into teaching, Eutsler said, "I wanted a job that focused on helping people. I originally wanted to get into counseling, which lead into an interest in teaching."

By teaching, Eutsler is following in the footsteps of many of her relatives and ancestors. She had "lots of role models growing up," including her mother, who still works in schools.

Another unique part of her conservation-minded curriculum includes partnering with The Lobster Conservancy in developing a classroom project through which her students raise lobster larva. "Lobster Larvae in the Classroom" is a two-month project, in which Carla's students will raise lobsters in their classroom from the point which they hatch from eggs, through three swimming larval stages, until they reach the fourth or settlement stage. During this hands-on learning experience, the students will monitor water quality in the larval tanks, raise brine shrimp to feed the larval lobsters and track the growth and development of the lobsters.

They will also go on two field trips. The first field trip collects and views the planktonic organisms that larval and post larval lobsters feed on in the wild. The second trip will be a trip to the rocky intertidal zone, where students will learn about the habitat of juvenile lobsters, discover some juvenile lobster predators and prey, and learn about The Lobster Conservancy's Juvenile Lobster Monitoring Program.

Eutsler's classroom is the pilot of this new program and will act as a model to other schools in coming years.

When asked why she thinks important for children to learn about natural resource conservation, Eutsler said, "The children I teach are the future citizens and will be making the decisions that guide our communities in to future. The more they understand the importance of recycling, using less resources, and the relation to taxes, the better
stewards they will be."

"Teaching children about conservation of our natural resources also teaches their parents, and so on. If students learn about alternative forms of energy, they will be ready when fossil fuels run out. It (natural resource education) is very important."

As Elementary School Conservation Teacher of the Year. Eutsler receives free enrollment to the week-long Natural Resources Institute, an educational experience for teachers in the conservation and management of Maine's environment. She will be recognized at the State of Maine Association of Conservation Districts Summer Meeting, to be held this year in Rockland, and locally at the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Cunservation Districts Annual Meeting in November.

The Teacher Awards Program recognizes efforts of teachers in grades K-8 and grades nine through 12 that employ a unique curriculum, which incorporates soil, water and habitat conservation.

Furthermore, Carla's students lead a school-wide recycling program to recycle magazines, catalogs and office paper. They are looking at involving parent volunteers in the future to improve the program and involve the community. Over the years, students in her class have also been active in raising money to protect the rainforest in Costa Verde, Costa Rica. They have raised enough money to protect six acres! Students have also raised money to adopt threatened orca whales and to fund whale-watching trips. "Creativity," is Carlats favorite thing about teaching. "lt's never the same. Also I love how much I can learn from the kids."

Eutsler, her hushand and twin boys live in Waldoboro and she just loves working in the community of Friendship. Perhaps she was meant to be there - her Great, Great, Great Grandmother grew up in Friendship and moved north to Atkinson, Maine as a young lady - fulfilling yet another great circle in the complex web of life.

To find out more about tht Conservation Awards program of Maine's Soil and Water Conservation Districts, contact your local office in Warren at 273-2005 ext. 101.

©2003 The Lobster Conservancy.
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