SETAC/Menzie Environmental Education Award
Craig Wilson is the 2014 recipient of the SETAC/Menzie Environmental Education Award for his extensive and passionate work with underrepresented elementary and middle school students and their teachers. His approach encourages science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) solutions to a range of current environmental challenges.
Craig serves as the Director of the Future Scientist Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program (HSINP), and he is a senior research associate at the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE), College of Science at Texas A&M University. Over the years, he has worked with Hispanic-serving universities, colleges and school districts; presented at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native American in Science (SACNAS), the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology conferences; and currently works in the Mississippi Delta in schools with predominately African American student populations.
After receiving his BA and MA at Oxford University, UK, Craig worked towards his Post-Graduate Certification of Education in Science at Warwick University. He served as a lecturer and department head at Serowe Teacher Training College, affiliated with the University of Botswana, Africa until moving to Texas. Most recently, he has been awarded numerous grants to develop and initiate a variety of workshops and outreach collaborations with and for elementary and middle schools in the Texas area, including the design of four wildlife/pollinator gardens and Junior Master Gardener Wildlife Garden Program training for teachers. The grants also provided support for professional development workshops on agricultural science, expanded the Future Scientist Program in Leland school district for grades 5-12 and Oxford school district for grades 3-12 in Mississippi, and similar programs in the Panhandle and Lubbock, Texas school districts. These efforts have earned him recognition by the National Science Teachers Association and the USDA and now, rightfully, by SETAC.
The Menzie Award was created to recognize significant contributions to environmental education and the 2014 Award specifically targeted innovative educational programs that encourage and stimulate the professional development of environmental scientists. Research shows that many American students lose their zeal for science and mathematics in middle school, and Craig has purposefully focused his efforts on districts that serve underrepresented minorities. His successful corn earworm research project has seen more than 71,000 shipments of worms since 2006 and continues to be well received. One 4th grader exemplified the positive impact cultivating natural inquisitiveness and scientific exploration can have in her letter of thanks to Craig, “I know I can be a lot braver about exploring our world…Take care and thanks for everything.”