Tuesday, March 17, 2020

For Immediate Release

Saving Marine Species Through Educational Partnerships

Quincy, MA & Buzzards Bay, MA – For more than ten years, the Wade Institute for Science Education has partnered with the National Marine Life Center (NMLC) to bring hands-on, minds-on professional development opportunities to educators on Cape Cod. This partnership has led to a series of successful Summer Professional Development Institutes and Focus Workshops for K-12 teachers. By taking a collaborative approach to STEM education, NMLC Executive Director Kathy Zagzebski has supported the professional growth of teachers in her region and has enhanced public awareness of environmental health in the Cape Cod community.

About Kathy Zagzebski

How did Kathy find her career path in science? A native of Wisconsin, Kathy was fascinated by marine life from a young age. Though she wasn’t near the ocean, marine creatures were often on her mind. She pursued her interest in science through undergraduate studies at Augustana College and graduate school for coastal environmental management at Duke University. 

Kathy at the NSTA 2019 conference
Kathy challenged educators to engineer prosthetic limbs for turtles at the NSTA 2019 annual conference in St. Louis, MO. Photo credit: NMEA staff

Kathy’s passion for ocean ecosystem health and for marine biology led her to marine animal rehabilitation, a career that involves rescuing and caring for sick and injured wildlife. Among her notable accomplishments is her work at the Marine Mammal Center (Sausalito, California), the largest marine animal stranding network in the United States. Kathy spent seven years managing their Stranding Department. As Stranding Manager, she responded to reports of stranded sick and injured marine animals by coordinating help for the rescue hotline and transport of wildlife to the rehabilitation center. She also informally educated the general public about marine ecosystem health by explaining why marine animals strand and how concerned citizens can help.

In 2005, Kathy moved to Massachusetts and assumed the role of Executive Director at the National Marine Life Center, a marine animal hospital and science and education center. She supports the mission of the NMLC by managing day-to-day operations, developing and maintaining partnerships, actively participating on local nonprofit and commerce Boards, and by enhancing her own understanding of pedagogy best-practices through professional development.

Kathy demonstrates for educators how marine animals, like porpoises, are transported to the rehabilitation center.

Soon after moving to Massachusetts, Kathy met the Wade Institute for Science Education (then MITS, Inc.) Executive Director, Sandra Ryack-Bell, and Education Department member, Jane Heinze-Fry, at a Massachusetts Environmental Education Society conference. Since the mission of the newly-founded NMLC included public education about marine mammals, Kathy decided to both participate in Wade Institute professional development programs and to lead them as a collaborating partner. This strategic decision led to over ten years of successful Cape Cod Region Summer Professional Development Institutes and intermittent Focus Workshops, such as SeaPerch. In 2020, the NMLC is again collaborating with the Wade Institute to bring inquiry-based, hands-on, minds-on professional development to educators in and around Cape Cod!

Kathy is bringing her expertise in marine ecosystems to the Wade Institute’s 2020 Cape Cod Region Summer Professional Development Institute, as well as to the SeaPerch underwater robotics workshop in May. An avid learner, Kathy has been following out-of-the-box science trends, like biomimicry research that studies the adaptations of marine life. She plans to share her enthusiasm for hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based pedagogy by engaging 2020 Summer Professional Development Institute participants in a biomimicry engineering design challenge that she recently presented to scientists at the World Marine Mammal Conference! The Wade Institute would like to thank Kathy for her dedication to science learning — both as a learner and an educator.


The Wade Institute for Science Education specializes in providing inquiry-based, hands-on, minds-on, science, technology and engineering professional development for K-12 teachers and informal educators.  For more information, visit www.wadeinstitutema.org or call 617-328-1515.

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