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Professional Development Help for New Instructors?

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Lissa Derugin Lissa Derugin 75 Points

Hi! After years of surveying wildlife, I recently became a college biology instructor (a humble new part-timer). I want to take advantage of some incredible professional development opportunities (teacher training classes held in wilderness areas!!!) that could help me develop that special 'spark' as a bio instructor.... but they are pricey! Since I'm not yet a full-timer, my college won't help fund my training. Similarly, many professional development grants are given not to newbies, but to experienced teachers with a long achievement list.

Can anyone recommend funding opportunities (e.g. simple travel grants) for the likes of me, who are just starting out, but have a strong desire to develop and bring back something special from the training to the classroom?

Torrey Wenger Torrey Wenger 907 Points

Look for opportunities offered by your state's department of natural resources (or equivalent). I also really like the annual conference put on by the Michigan Alliance of Environmental & Outdoor Educators; hopefully there's a similar group in your state. These options are probably less intensive but they're also less pricey. Good luck!

Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5755 Points

This is a great question! I am full-time faculty, but only get 1 funded trip a year and that must be to present my research. I would also love to know what options are available for funding PD-focused travel.

What is your geographic region? Maybe some folks local to you can weigh in on local opportunities. 

Does your institution have a Center for Teaching & Learning (or equivalent center with another name)? They may have internal funding options for part-time faculty or insight on local grant opportunities. They may also have internal grant programs for innovate SoTL projects ... you could squeeze in PD and travel in your budget! I managed to get my OSHA 10-Hr refresher paid for through an internal grant this year using that logic. (Most years I just pay out of pocket for my renewal.)

Jeff Goldfinger Jeff Goldfinger 165 Points

Hi Lissa,

This is perhaps a bit outside the box but what about approaching some charitable foundations whose mission involves science education. In exchange for their paying you to attend the class, you agree to do something for them - e.g., teach a class to their staff, videotape a promotional ad, give them 'X' number of hours of your time on a project.

I use the barter approach a lot.

Good luck,



James Johnson James Johnson 95308 Points

Hi Lissa.  I have done a lot of workshops and I can think of two that might interest you.  Check out the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Institute for Conservation Research

Another good program is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Best of luck!

Lissa Derugin Lissa Derugin 75 Points

Thanks! I'm still hoping to find specifically grant opportunities to cover the cost of attending professional development events, but these sound like great (less expensive) options for the likes of me :) Really appreciate the advice so far!

If anyone else has additional ideas, please pitch in :)

James Johnson James Johnson 95308 Points

You are welcome, Lissa.  Just to clarify, MBARI and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park pay for travel expenses.  There's no cost other than personal expenses.  Again, best of luck!

Karen Henman Karen Henman 7105 Points

Keep track of grant opportunities posted in the NSTA newspaper.  Each month different venues offer special trainings that are all expense paid professional development training for educators.  

Flavio Mendez Flavio Mendez 52346 Points

Thanks Karen.  I am sharing a link to the latest issue of NSTA Reports - great resource for all teachers of science.


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