by Abbie Altena
Biology teacher Audra Faber has been recognized with two awards from the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition for her outstanding work in teaching her students about God’s complex creation. Faber received the Bohumil Shimek Environmental Educator Award for outstanding efforts by an environmental educator and the Sylvan Runkel Environmental Education Award for her outstanding whole-school environmental education program.
Faber has been driven by her desire to grow in her teaching and through the support of her coworkers. “The internal motivation to keep growing as a teacher and honor God in my calling,” said Faber. “The external motivation from the training we have been doing (Teaching for Transformation) and Mr. Van Kooten’s encouragement to try new things.”
The Bohumil Shimek Environmental Educator (EE) award is for new and interactive EE programming that goes above and beyond just learning in a classroom. The Sylvan Runkel Environmental Education Award is for involving the students in an outdoor classroom that also benefits the community.
“I am very pleased that Mrs. Faber is being recognized for her environmental education teaching. Her vision and hard work as a teacher are exemplary and noteworthy,” said principal Dan Van Kooten. “To be recognized at the state level is a testament to her excellent work as a teacher at PCHS!”
In Faber’s biology classes she has implemented many hands on activities that get students involved in what they are learning about. She was awarded with the Bohumil Shimek Environmental Educator award because of her lessons surrounding the sophomore biology field trip to local creeks and wetlands, as well as her involvement in planning and taking care of Pella Christian’s prairie.
“Through Mrs. Faber I have a new respect for the environment,” said sophomore Katelyn Vos. “She showed me how every single creature out there is important for the ecosystem that it lives in.”
Faber earned the Sylvan Runkel Environmental Education Award through her new activities involving the Biology II class last semester. The class was involved in leading a tree workshop for community members, presenting at the Pella Manor and The Cottages, and planning and planting 54 native trees on the Pella Christian High campus.
“Our campus is more beautiful because of the 54 diverse kinds of native trees that were planted this past fall. Our building will be more energy efficient because of the strategic planting of trees. Our athletic venues such as the tennis court will be more protected because of strategic planting of trees,” said Van Kooten.
Van Kooten and Faber will be attending an award dinner that concludes the Iowa Association of Naturalists workshop at the Jester Park Nature Center in Granger, Iowa, on March 7 to receive the awards.