The Conservation Federation of Missouri recently announced Mike Szydlowski, K-12 Science Coordinator for Columbia Public Schools, as the Conservation Educator of the Year for 2020.
Szydlowski exemplifies all that CFM stands for and has bettered Missouri's outdoors through personal efforts throughout 2020 and their lives. He will be recognized at the CFM Annual Convention in early March.
Szydlowski received this award for his dedication to delivering innovative teaching strategies and educational experiences that develop an appreciation and understanding of our natural world. Szydlowski has instituted place-based learning in Columbia allowing students to study nature, “up close and personal.”
It starts with the local habitats around their schools and homes and invites plants and animals into the classroom and takes small groups of students on field trips to the Grand Tetons and the Great Smoky Mountains once a year. He still guides the typical classroom experience, but Szydlowski has extended learning beyond the classroom.
Hands-on immersion in nature is the first step to cementing the elements and importance of conservation into the psyche of students so they understand, appreciate, and engage in the protection of wild places and wildlife.