July 30, 2012 — Vol. 28 No. 27
Twenty-eight years and approximately 237,451 school children and numerous Museum programs later, Rebecca Thorne-Ferrel is retiring from the Idaho Museum of Natural History as its Education Program Coordinator.
"It was a truly good time," said Thorne-Ferrel, who started at the IMNH in 1984 and will be leaving the Museum in early August. "I loved it absolutely. There is nothing more gratifying than guiding children to understand the world around them."
Thorne-Ferrel's outreach programs were delivered to more than 53,000 children throughout the Intermountain West. And most of it was fun.
"I loved doing outreach and going out to schools and taking objects from our teaching collections," said Thorne-Ferrel, who designed more than 2,300 science-related activities for children in K-12 programs. "I always loved teaching kindergarten and preschoolers. Teaching first- and second-graders about dinosaurs was always so much fun. I also like working with Science Trek and the teachers in the schools. The list of what I enjoyed goes on and on."
She created the IMNH's Educational Resource Center, which offers programs such as the Natural History Academy, Natural Science Inquiries Series, Pint-Sized Science Academy, Science in Depth, Summer Science Snack, and Forays into the Field, a weeklong fieldwork experience in science education for junior high and high school-aged girls. She also created Science Trek, an overnight adventure for third- through fifth-grade children to explore the frontiers of science, which received awards from the National Education Television Association.
"None of this would have been possible without the support of so many people who helped me (including) the docents that helped with school groups, teachers who brought their students, volunteers who taught some of the classes and the scientists who stayed up at night to help with Science Trek, and many others," Thorne-Ferrel said. "None of it would have happened without their dedication."
One of those volunteers, Judy Kirkham of Blackfoot, who has volunteered as a Museum docent for 22 years, shared her memories of working with Thorne-Ferrel.
"I was impressed from the very start," Kirkham said. "She knows so much about so many things and her organizational ability is remarkable - she gets events together like nothing I've ever seen. She also has a special talent with really young people. They sit there and they're so quiet. Most people don't get that kind of attention from children and it is a respect you don't often see."
Thorne-Ferrel will be leaving several legacies at the Museum, including a significant teaching collection.
"Her office is filled with tubs with specimens including anything from rocks to fossils to bones she used to teach children and she checks out to teachers," Kirkham said. "She'd go out on outreach trips, which could be a real adventure going to schools way out in the Pahsimeroi (Valley) and all over the place, sometimes in winter. I always felt she went above and beyond anything you'd expect."
Thorne-Ferrel said she firmly believes that learning is a lifelong process; she has taught classes in the College of Education, mentored university students through internships at the Museum, and developed programs for New Knowledge Adventures, a community-based group of older citizens.
Two programs that characterize her interdisciplinary, cross-generational approach to delivering science were supported by the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the National Science Foundation. "Idaho Geology Outreach" focuses on working with earth sciences teachers to augment the school curriculum with online resources and through visits to the Museum. "Evaluating the Effects of the Alamo Impact Event on Carbonate Platform Recovery and Regional Tectonics: A Research Focus for Educators in the Great Basin" involves layering field work experiences for undergraduate and graduate students with authentic hands-on field experiences for high school girls and teacher workshops.
In 1986-87 Thorne-Ferrel received a Kellogg Fellowship to the Field Museum in Chicago that helped shape her role as a museum educator. Her professional contributions also were acknowledged by the Idaho Academy of Science in 2005 as the recipient of the Distinguished Science Communicator Award.
"I think of the Museum as a great resource for the community," Thorne-Ferrel said. "I'm not sure the community fully understands the treasure we hold here, not only for classes, but for the exhibits and collections we hold. There is a treasure here for the greater Southeast Idaho Community."
A reception to honor and thank Thorne-Ferrel for her outstanding dedication to the community will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at the Idaho Museum of Natural History Conference Room. All are welcome.
Student Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jane Coe Smith as the Director of Student Life. Dr. Coe Smith holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Counseling and is a Licensed Clinical Professor Counselor. Her responsibilities include: coordination and administration of the Student Conduct process; chairing the Students of Concern Team; collaboration with academic departments on academic dishonesty issues; resolving student grievances; and assessment of student affairs programs, activities and services. Dr. Coe Smith comes to this position from the Counseling and Testing Service at ISU where she was a Professional Counselor. In addition, she is a former faculty member in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her office is located within the Vice President for Student Affairs suite in the Pond Student Union.
"We are indeed fortunate to have someone with Dr. Coe Smith's education, expertise and knowledge of student issues, including her service as a faculty member, in this critical position. I know that she will be able to enhance student satisfaction, retention and graduation and faculty, staff and students will enjoy working with her," said Dr. Patricia S. Terrell, Vice President for Student Affairs.
Kandis V. Garland, RDH, MS, Assistant Professor, in the Department of Dental Hygiene was appointed to the American Dental Association National Board Dental Hygiene Examination Test Construction Committee. This is a two year appointment. In addition, Kandis was invited to write the proceedings from the recently held Organization for Safety, Asepsis, & Prevention Symposium.
Laura Woodworth-Ney and colleagues James Armstrong and Peter Lutze, were awarded an annual International Award for Excellence in the area of new directions in the humanities from the International Journal of the Humanities.
The authors were awarded for the paper, "VideoPoetry: Collaboration as Imaginative Method."
For the third time in almost as many years, the Energy Systems Technology and Education Center (ESTEC) at the Idaho State University College of Technology has been awarded funding for student scholarships. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently awarded $149,400 to Idaho State University for distribution to students this fall.
The funding will provide ESTEC with the opportunity to support five scholarships in the amount of $6,500 for incoming students into the program. An additional 13 scholarships will also be awarded to students currently enrolled in ESTEC. Continuing students will receive up to $5,500 over two semesters.
Lawrence Beaty, Executive Director/Chair of ESTEC, said, "These are multi-benefit scholarships that will provide opportunities for Idaho students to be able to afford an education and gain necessary skills in nuclear operations and maintenance. This focus on nuclear education is consistent with Governor [C.L. "Butch"] Otter's initiative to enhance the long-term viability of Idaho's nuclear industry."
ESTEC launched the Nuclear Operations Technician program in fall 2011 with help from the Idaho National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory based in Idaho Falls. INL is one of ESTEC's founding partners and provided funding for the Nuclear Technician program. INL employees also teach some of the courses.
"The funding from the NRC underscores the regional importance of this program," said Richard Holman, INL's manager of energy workforce initiatives. "It is critical that we have the resources to educate and train the next generation of nuclear technicians and operators."
Funding received from the NRC has also awarded funding to ISU that will allow scholarship recipients the opportunity to travel to a national nuclear conference held in Florida later this year. The professional conference will provide networking and educational experiences for students focused on a nuclear career. Additional funding through the grant will also pay for scholarship recipients to travel to an internship prior to their graduation from ESTEC.
This is the third time since 2008 that ESTEC has received funding from the NRC, an amount that now totals more than $350,000 for student scholarships. The ISU College of Technology applied for this funding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission two years ago.
Idaho State University is one of dozens of universities nationwide participating in the designated NCAA/Collegiate Licensing Company's College Colors Day 2012.
The celebration will be held on Aug. 31 and it involves participation by national, regional, and online retailers representing more than 10,000 locations-all with the goal of increasing sales of collegiate merchandise.
There is an exciting new component for College Colors Day 2012. For the first time there will be a national online competition powered by ESPN.com. Bengal fans are encouraged to register and "Pledge Their Allegiance" to ISU. The campaign is a fun way to engage fan participation and encourage school spirit during the kickoff of the college football season and 2012 College Colors Day.
The contest site at ESPN.com/collegecolorsday is now live. The competition will run throughout the entire month of August leading up to College Colors Day on Aug. 31.
All registrants that sign up and pledge their support for the ISU Bengals will be entered to win weekly gift cards from ESPN Shop ($50 gift cards at ESPN Shop) and one of two grand prizes (college shopping spree at ESPN Shop valued at $500). In addition, the institution with the most pledges, which will be announced on College Colors Day, will be crowned "Winner of the College Colors Day Spirit Cup" and awarded $10,000 for its general scholarship fund.
Bengal fans can show their spirit by registering at ESPN.com/collegecolorsday and pledging support for ISU.
For more information, contact Mark Levine, ISU director of Marketing and Communications, (208) 282-3260.