Nomination statement for Dustin Angell, recipient of the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society's 2016 Outstanding Educator Award:
Dustin Angell has been the Education Coordinator for Archbold Biological Station since 2013; he oversees Archbold’s K-12 programs, summer camps, public tours and outreach events. He started out his career with an art degree, and had no idea where his life’s path would lead him. In strange twists of fate, he ended up first as an educator at a science museum in central New York, and then eventually to central Florida. Dustin’s success in education builds on his artistic creativity and great powers of observation, combined with his sponge-like absorption of the science and natural history surrounding him at Archbold. He has something special that cannot be taught or learned in a classroom: a true gift for teaching and an innate ability to share his child-like enthusiasm for the natural world with others, especially with children.
Dustin is the only staff member for the public education program at Archbold, organizing and running every K-12 visit and public events from tours to attendance at local festivals. He also provides guidance for many college classes visiting Archbold. Dustin uses a wide variety of creative tools to provide learning opportunities, including art, role-playing, games, story-telling, music, and presentations from scientists. He has sought and received grant funding for education including a recent grant from the American Association of Water Resources for distribution of Archbold’ s education curricula to regional schools. As well as being a powerful communicator in the field, Dustin is something of a star on social media (e.g., narrating At Home in the Florida Scrub https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km3RpDYlyaI, one of many videos in which he has participated, or produced). Using his contacts he has brought exciting new dimensions to Archbold education such as Beautiful Earth, the innovative science-arts NASA program (http://www.highlandstoday.com/hi/local-news/nasa-archbold-teach-students-about-earth-space-connections-20141022/ ).
Dustin, working with student interns and volunteers recruited from the local community, has responsibility for Archbold’s summer ecology camp for children ages 7-12. During this inspiring week-long day camp, youngsters learn about science and conservation of the endangered scrub habitat, an ecosystem most of them know nothing about despite it being located in their own backyards. In less than three years, Dustin has increased the number of camp sessions from four to seven, and camp attendance by almost 70%. After every summer camp session, several children confide to Dustin that they want to become biologists someday, and each year, many veteran campers return. In 2015, Dustin developed an innovative new program linking Archbold with a local business, and bringing nature education to Florida’s under-represented Hispanic community. In a collaboration between Archbold and the neighboring plant nursery Delray Plants, children of their employees, mostly of Hispanic descent, enjoyed the opportunity to join summer camp with Dustin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GQwJL9m47M ).
Dustin is a lifetime learner, constantly researching the newest techniques for student learning and instructing himself on every facet of the science and the Florida habitats that he has come to love. He is already a force in education state-wide, as a new board member for League of Environmental Educators in Florida and a member of the Association of Nature Center Administrators (FL Chapter), creating a ripple effect of his knowledge and Archbold’s education programs throughout Florida. Education isn’t a job to Dustin – it’s a calling that he lives and breathes. He is absolutely committed to bringing knowledge and awareness of the imperiled biomes of central Florida, and he is a highly valuable asset to the education field in our state.