Tim Delaney photo
The Fling, the vessel used for the first ever Coast to Classroom Teacher Expedition, prepares to dock after a week-long cruise along the Texas Gulf Coast. Twenty area teachers, including one from Refugio, participated. The Fling docked Thursday, June 25, after navigating under the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge.
CORPUS CHRISTI – Teaching out of a book is all right, but nothing beats real life experience.
And that was the allure that convinced Refugio High School teacher Tammy Reeves to become one of 20 teachers who participated in the first ever Coast to Classroom Teacher Expedition.
Reeves, 30, boarded the vessel Fling for a weeklong journey along the Texas Coast at Freeport on Monday, June 22. Aboard the craft, she was able to work with field scientists, who are familiar with everything from birds, bays, estuaries, tidal inlets and wetlands.
“None of us got seasick. It was a nice, smooth ride. We had good captains,” Reeves said.
Reeves said the Fling sailed to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge where she viewed various birds.
She said other spots visited included Estes Flats (grass beds), the Laguna Madre Field Station, Port O’Connor, Lydia Ann Lighthouse, San Jose Island and the west side of Mustang Island.
“We saw dolphins as we cruised by Copano Bay,” she said.
Beside birding, the group of teachers went kayaking, collected water and sediment samples and analyzed water quality
Reeves, who teaches 10th, 11th and 12th grades at Refugio High School, said she really benefitted from the cruise.
“I’ve got tons of resources, lesson plans, field guides and books,” Reeves said.
She plans to add a year-long Earth space science class to her other classes this fall to offer an option for fourth-year science at Refugio High School.
“The teacher expedition was a great opportunity for me to gain knowledge about the local ecology to bring back to my students. Working with so many teachers from around the coastal bend, many of whom also teach in smaller rural schools like Refugio, gave me the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate with teachers in the area who I hope to work with in the future,” she said.
The Coast to Classroom Teacher Expedition was hosted by the Harte Research Institute and funded by the Ed Rachal Foundation.
The Harte Institute had sent out emails to several school districts in the area inviting teachers to attend the cruise. Superintendent Jack Gaskins forwarded the email to Reeves, who jumped at the chance.
“Our kids know more about coral reefs and the rainforest than they know about the Texas Coast,” said Jay Tarkington, Outreach program director with the TAMU-CC Center for Coastal Studies, who managed the workshop.
“A big part of this expedition was to get these teachers out into the field to highlight our Texas coastal wetlands. We wanted to show these teachers environmental changes along the Texas Coast, but we also want to provide them with educational materials, things that can help them when they return to school in the fall,” Tarkington said.
“Overall this ‘cruise’ was a great way to get me excited about the upcoming school year. I am always more enthusiastic about an upcoming school year when I have new knowledge, ideas, methods, activities, and labs to share with my students,” Reeves said.
Reeves said the numerous activities on and off the Fling led to material she could use in her chemistry, biology AP, and Earth space science classes.
“There was something for everyone on this trip no matter what science they taught or at what level,” she said.
“This was an experience I am so grateful to have been a part of and hope this program continues.”