APTOS — Standing inside a building at Seacliff Beach State Park, Interpreter Vonnie Lemke played a game with a second-grade class which was seated inside its classroom at Pioneer Elementary School in the central valley town of Hanford in Kings County.
Nearing the end of her 45-minute virtual presentation on monarch butterflies, Lemke stood in front of a camera and watched the kids on a flat screen monitor having fun as they demonstrated what they’d learned about the life cycle of butterflies.
“Show me a caterpillar,” she said, as the kids jumped up and mimicked the insects. “How about a butterfly? How about a cold butterfly? How about an egg? Good job everyone.”
After the brief play break, Lemke returned to the lesson, displaying color pictures of two monarch butterflies on the classroom monitor to show the students how to identify the boys from the girls.
“This is a really fun job,” Lemke said, after the virtual lesson concluded. An interpreter with the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students Program, or PORTS, Lemke spends three days a week beaming into classrooms throughout the state. Last year, the Seacliff program educated more than 8,300 students in Kindergarten through 12th-grade about monarch butterflies, elephant seals and mammals through its free, live, interactive video conference presentations.
“All the programs are individualized,” said Heather Holm, a program coordinator. “We’ll tailor the program to meet any grade level needs.”
Last week, the Seacliff program was one of six programs in the state honored with the Excellence in Museum award. The competition, which is sponsored by the California Association of Museums and the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, recognizes outstanding achievements in museum programs that serve students and/or educators.
While Lemke is the face in front of the camera, she said producing the presentations, which are tailored to each class, is a team effort.
“I feel proud to be part of this group,” Lemke said. “There are eight of us, and everyone is a star.”
The Seacliff program is funded by grants and contributions from the nonprofit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.
“We’re so proud to fund this program,” said Bonny Hawley, executive director of the organization. “PORTS uses virtual classroom technology to bring our unique coastal environment to K through 12 students across the state and beyond, including kids who have never been to our coast.”
Since the launch of Seacliff program, it has expanded to six other state parks, including Anza Borrego, Crystal Cove, California State Capitol, Columbia, Hearst Castle and North Coast Redwoods.
To see the original article: http://bit.ly/1daxRjG
By Terri Morgan, Santa Cruz Sentinel
Follow Sentinel correspondent Terri Morgan at www.twitter.com/soquelterri
For information on the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students Program, visit www.ports.parks.ca.gov, call 916-320-6894 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.