Pocahontas County HS Teacher Heads To The Galapagos

Dunmore, WV – Pocahontas County HS science teacher Mary Sue Burns will soon begin an adventure that will take her to one of the most environmentally unique areas in the world – the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Equador, South America. She explains how the trip came about.

“Well, it’s the Toyota International Teacher Program to the Galapagos Islands” she says “and it’s a competitive program, you apply for it. I just applied on a whim last spring and found it this summer that I was accepted – tickled to pieces.”

She’ll join a group of educators from around the country.

“There’s 24 teachers from all over the country, and they all teach 6th grade through 12th grade, but different subjects and we’re going to be going a cruise around to some of the uninhabited islands” she says. “We’ll so some hiking and some diving, learn a lot about diversity of life and conservation. I’m hoping to learn a lot about geolory as well because it is one of the most volcanically active place on the planet.”

That’s especially important to a teacher whose area of expertise is earth science. Burns says they’ll travel first to Miami for some training in the Everglades before the group departs for South America. Once on the island of Santa Cruz off the coast of Equador, they’ll encounter life not seen anywhere else on the planet.

“They have probably the most endemic species of anywhere in the world; that means that those are species of animals that live only there and no where else” says Burns. “Things like marine Iguanas, the only iguanas that actually swim in the ocean..and of course, they’re famous for several species of very large tortoises.”

While she’s in the Galapagos, her students at home will also be doing field work of their own.

“When we applied for this we had proposals about how we would share this with our students, so right now my earth science students are actually working on projects where they’re going to be doing some field work here in Pocahontas County and we’re going to do some compare and contrast” says Burns “we actually have one endemic species in Pocahontas County, the Cheat Mountain Salamander.”

They’ll also be making other comparisons.

“We’re also looking at resources – on the Galapagos, fresh drinking water is very short and that’s something we take for granted in Pocahontas. Land forms of course – they’ve got [volcanic] cinder cones and we’ve got the Devils Backbone [rock formation]. There’s a little bit of a difference there, but it all comes back to plate movement and things like that so there’s some things we can tie together, and of course the rocks.”

To say she’s excited would be an understatement. Burns says she looks forward to sharing her experience with the community once she returns.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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