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Antarctic expedition topic of Feb. 19 fundraiser in Quasqueton
Waterloo teacher to tale of whales, penguins, ice and more
QUASQUETON — In a 2018 video honoring Waterloo elementary teacher Stacey Snyder with the governor’s I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, one of her kids said: “She knows how to amaze students.”
Years later, Snyder is continuing to astonish in the classroom — and out of it — most recently by sailing south to where a “traffic jam” is made of ice instead of cars.
“In retrospect I am so thankful I went to Antarctica because it’s probably not a place I would go to on my own,” Snyder said, acknowledging her dislike of the cold. “Now that I’ve been there, I feel differently.”
The expanded learning program and gifted-student resource teacher at Orange and Lowell elementary schools in Waterloo will be sharing about her Antarctic expedition in November 2019 during a 5:30 p.m. dinner event Feb. 19 at Wolfey’s Wapsie Outback in Quasqueton. Friends of Fontana Park — a local nonprofit supporting the Buchanan County Conservation Board’s educational efforts — is sponsoring the fundraiser, costing $30 per person.
If you go
What: Stacey Snyder: “Antarctic expedition” dinner and discussion
Where: Wolfey’s Wapsie Outback, 101 Water St., Quasqueton
When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 19, 2023
Cost: $30, at buchanancountyparks.com under the Public Events tab or call the Buchanan County Conservation Nature Center at (319) 636-2617
Program: Snyder will focus on impacts of climate change on Antarctica and its wildlife and actions in Iowa can impact the world and its wildlife, in even the most remote areas. She will present an audiovisual story, share how she is using her experiences in her classroom teaching, and will answer questions at the end.
Sponsor: Friends of Fontana Park, as a fundraiser to support education efforts of the Buchanan County Conservation Board.
Snyder visited Antarctica three years ago as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, supported by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The partnership sends K-12 teachers on field-based expeditions — as a professional development opportunity — and requires a two-year commitment beyond the trip.
In a news release, Snyder said she applied to empower her students to think outside the classroom and take action to better the world. To prepare, Synder read alongside her class in hopes of being ready to spot the continent’s wildlife in their habitat.
“I have always believed that chance will favor your prepared mind,” she said.
Because fellowship educators are expected to incorporate their experience into their teaching and share it with the community, too, Snyder borrowed 360-degree cameras from Iowa State University’s FLEx program to create a “virtual field trip” with her students. COVID-19 derailed that project this spring, but Snyder has continued sharing with community groups and local media.
Highlights of her Antarctic experience included seeing a massive 80-by-25-mile-wide iceberg that took the expedition hours to pass.
“On the ice floes behind the iceberg, Snyder got to see emperor penguins floating in the sea, a rare treat because that largest of the penguin species usually is found farther south,” according to a news release.
Snyder in sum saw four species of penguin.
“I know birders would be jealous to see some of the birds that I saw,” she said, highlighting the wandering albatross and its vast wingspan.
At one point, Snyder agreed to participate in a “polar plunge” in the Southern Ocean, but she made it fun for students by swapping out her swimsuit for something more animated.
“I decided I was going to get a penguin costume because I love Halloween and I like to dress up, and I’m a storyteller to the kids,” she said. “They know that I can be a character.”
Snyder also watched a blue whale from the group’s ship for more than 20 minutes.
“That made my life in a sense, because that’s not an animal that’s all that common,” she said. “As an endangered species, to be able to be near that, see it, and watch it, that was pretty amazing.”
Snyder’s audiovisual presentation will encompass her experiences and lessons learned. She’ll share how climate change is affecting Antarctica and its wildlife, and actions Iowans can take. She’ll also share how she’s using the experience in her classroom, and will take questions.
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