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Thirty Years

July 19, 2017
MAB and Belize

Mary Ann with our Belizean Educators, and co-leaders Liz Baird and Bill Hasse circa 2000


In 1987, Mary Ann Brittain launched an incredible initiative to take teachers from North Carolina to Belize, to explore tropical ecology and understand the way North Carolina is connected to the tropics. Nearly every year since then, a group of outstanding educators has traveled to Belize, where they are joined by their Belizean counterparts, for a nine day trip exploring the country from the mountains to the sea. Belize has changed in those thirty years; North Carolina has changed in that time too. But what has not changed is the passion and excitement these educators bring to this experience, and then back into their classrooms.

Across North Carolina and Belize, there are teachers who have been changed by this institute. For some it was their first airplane flight, or first trip out of the country. for others it provided a reawakening of their commitment to their classrooms, or a rediscovery of their excitement of being immersed in the natural world. Each one comes away with new knowledge and understanding of tropical ecosystems and the interdependence of humans and nature. They also come away with so much more – a sense of awe and wonder about the world, a curiosity about their surroundings and a deep understanding of what it means to stretch and grow as a learner. They do this surrounded by other educators of excellence from Belize and North Carolina, and those friendships last far beyond the length of the trip.

It is an honor to continue the legacy started by Mary Ann thirty years ago. Many thanks to all of you who have supported this project both here and in Belize.  Please follow along as we continue the Educators of Excellence Tropical Ecology Institute.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura Cochrane permalink
    July 20, 2017 4:37 am

    What an absolutely life changing experience for me! Thank you Liz for your leadership on this trip and the continued devotion to bring this opportunity to many educators. I will definitely follow along and live vicariously … have a wonderful trip!

  2. Molly Tuttle permalink
    July 20, 2017 7:42 pm

    What an amazing trip! I conquered a lot of fears on this trip… but more importantly I met some of the most amazing people both here and in Belize that I still talk to today! This trip changed me as a person and an educator. It opened my eyes to so many new things! As a K-5 science teacher I constantly talk about my adventures there! I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be an Educator of Excellence!

  3. Kayla Norville permalink
    July 21, 2017 8:26 am

    This was an absolutely amazing trip, and I’m so happy to have had the privilege to be a part of it! I now look at life differently, able to conquer fears like never before. It definitely has changed the way I teach, both students and future teachers!

  4. Pamela Gilchrist permalink
    July 24, 2017 7:12 am

    Safe travels, looking forward to reliving the experience through the blog posts! Truly an amazing adventure!

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