Prof. Len Reitsma Teaches Science Teachers in the Field

May 12th, 2003 by Adam

Associate Professor of Natural Science Leonard R. Reitsma, of Plymouth State College, is preparing for the second year of an intensive summer field ecology program for middle and high school teachers.
Reitsma collaborates on this program with Professor David Peart and Dr. Celia Chen, research associate, both of Dartmouth College’s department of biological sciences, to give teachers the opportunity to get out of the classroom and literally into the field. This year’s summer intensive is scheduled for July 9-11.

Teachers and instructors camp together and conduct aquatic, plant and animal ecology field experiments. “Science teachers are very enthusiastic about being involved in hypothesis-testing field research, because it is not always clear how to design experiments in nature,” Reitsma explains. “The research scientists who instruct in this event have found the interaction with middle and high school teachers to be enriching and eye-opening for all. We conduct experiments, profile food webs, analyze original data and discuss at-length the subtleties of collected data. Most importantly, we are all completely immersed in nature during the entire event.”

The second year of the program recently received funding from the Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Reitsma has also received a grant from the Legacy Resource Management program for the fourth consecutive year of his study of northern waterthrushes in Puerto Rico, using telemetry to investigate habitat selection.

“We have discovered that migratory birds overwintering in Puerto Rico use more than one habitat within a single day. They feed in a variety of habitat types during the day and fly to coastal red mangroves to roost overnight,” says Reitsma. “This has implications for conserving their nonbreeding habitat in the tropics. We need to consider conserving habitat mosaics, not just patches of habitat where these birds spend the day.”

For more information, contact Len Reitsma at (603) 535-2558 or