Amy Vargason (USA) – Teacher Explorer, Team Member
Click here if you would like to send Amy a note of encouragement or would just like to say 'Hello' while she is on the expedition.
Amy Vargason has been selected as the Teacher Explorer for GoNorth! Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 2006. She will join the expedition team on the trail for two weeks end of April 2006, dogsledding from the community of Kaktovik to the final destination of Prudhoe Bay, on the coast of the Arctic Ocean.
Amy is a fifth grade teacher from H.A. Snyder Elementary School in Sayre, Pennsylvania since 1995. She exemplifies a strong commitment to the educational approach of adventure learning. As a teacher in the K-12 classroom, Amy has experienced first-hand the need for authentic learning experiences to best foster student learning. For the nine years she has worked in the Sayre School District, she has continued to bring such experiences to her classroom. In that time, a passion for Arctic exploration has evolved, along with a desire to instill environmental responsibility through her teachings. Today, her career trek has progressed from her days as a chemical technician, to educator, to now “Teacher Explorer.”
Amy enjoys horseback riding, traveling, and genealogy. Her expedition experience is a work in progress, but for those who know her, she is acts upon and is inspired by a quote from Colonel Norman Vaughn, “ Dream big and dare to fail.”
What Is A Teacher Explorer ?
Through a nationwide application process, one K-12 science or social science teacher is selected annually as a Teacher Explorer. The selected teacher will travel with the expedition team on the trail for up to fourteen days. Assisting with scientific and TEK data collection, they will gain first-hand experience of the Arctic environment and indigenous culture.
Reporting current science topics and new discoveries, while identifying and sharing Arctic resources and information, the Teacher Explorers will increase their content knowledge, enhance their teaching skills, collaborate with a network of researchers and educators across the nation, and ultimately transfer their experience to the classroom. This reflective, goal-directed, and co-operative process will allow the individual teacher to obtain multiple perspectives, thus achieving deep understanding, the working definition of meaningful learning (Jonassen). The Teacher Explorers will become Mentor Teachers in the GN! community and present at national conferences. This unique opportunity results in a partnership among teachers, researchers, students, the school district, and the community from which all benefit.
Interview With Amy Vargason
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is homemade ice cream.
What kind of music do you like?
I like classic rock. I also love to hear people play the acoustic guitar.
Hobbies or interests.
I always like to learn to do new things. I’ve currently taken up cross-country skiing, but in the summer I’m usually found horseback riding. I have a great interest in gardening and researching my genealogy.
Favorite classes or subjects in school?
Science…Science…Science I really love to teach and experience everything that the sciences have to offer. I tend to read and study biology, but love to teach my fifth grade about weather.
Favorite childhood memories?
My fondest memories are from my grandparent’s cabin. There were always great times here both in the summer and winter with family. My most adventurous memories as a kid were on my pony Ginger. I liked to explore on her, but always where she wanted to go!
How did you choose your current career path? Who or what inspired you?
It is well known that I love science and kids. With this combination I was led down the education trail. I love my job as an educator because it fosters creativity, collaboration with my peers and students, and provides for abundant learning opportunities. My inspiration always comes from my family. But there is one man today that has greatly influenced my life; he is Colonel Norman Vaughn with is accomplishments and quote “ Dream big and dare to fail.”
What advice do you have for the students of today?
It is very important to have a vision for your future, and always have dreams. Set a path before you, work hard, and see things to the end.
Why is it important to study the Arctic
The Arctic is our crystal ball to the future. It has become starkly evident over the last decades that many ecological changes are occurring here because of our industrialized world. As a population we have had an impact on this ecological system and in due time if actions aren’t taken it will drastically impact each one of us. We need to study everything from the migrating caribou to understanding the indigenous people of the region. It is my responsibility as an educator to create awareness and instill environmental responsibility in young people of this pristine and fragile environment, our world.
How and when did you first become a dog musher?
Well…I’m about to learn real quick!
Responsibilities on the trail
The Teacher Explorer will be assisting with scientific and TEK data collection. I will also have the responsibility of daily camp and travel preparations.