Columbia, SC—Amy Umberger has been named Richland County’s Conservation Teacher of the Year by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Umberger is the Resident Scientist at Dutch Fork Elementary School Academy of Environmental Sciences (DFES). Through this role, she serves both teachers and students as they work to develop scientific and environmental literacy through authentic, inquiry-driven projects including waste reduction and recycling, composting, habitat restoration and gardening, and air and water quality projects.
While at DFES, Umberger has worked diligently with staff and natural resource professionals to achieve certified Green Steps School status, a distinction that is awarded to SC schools with exemplary student-led environmental initiatives. She has garnered grant funds from a variety of sources to fund these efforts and provide more opportunities for her students to engage with the natural world. One of the latest success stories from DFES involves their recent foray into commercial composting. By partnering with SMART Recycling and Re-Soil to compost all school food waste, DFES is now diverting more than 7,000 pounds of organic waste from the landfill every month!
Umberger is also dedicated to supporting and mentoring other teachers and natural resource professionals. She frequently leads professional development opportunities for formal and informal educators on environmental topics, is a Project Learning Tree curriculum facilitator, and serves on the board of the Environmental Education Association of SC. Umberger was also instrumental in starting the SC Outreach and Informal Educator Summit (SCOIES) in 2008, which has now become an annual gathering of informal educators serving midlands K-12 audiences.
Dr. David Shelley, Education Coordinator at Congaree National Park’s Old-Growth Bottomland Forest Research and Education Center, credits Umberger with helping him leverage the SC Academic Standards and Performance Indicators in Science to make National Park Service programs more relevant to K-12 audiences. “Amy is a fantastic educator, friend, and colleague,” says Shelley. “Her passion and her professionalism set her apart; she is always looking to improve things. This recognition is long overdue.”
Umberger will be recognized at the Richland SWCD’s Awards Banquet on May 17th.
# # #
Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. In South Carolina, Conservation District boundaries conform to County boundaries. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use of natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of Richland County.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
2020 Hampton Street, Room 3063A
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone (803) 576-2080
Fax (803) 576-2088