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Meet Lisa Chase: Nasmyth Environmental Center Teacher

GAC’s Nasmyth Environmental Center is more than just a lush outdoor space filled with banana trees, chickens, and garden beds. It’s a real working educational space with a thoughtful, rich curriculum and two expert, full-time teachers. No desks, notebooks, or pens—the artifacts of a traditional classroom—but hardworking teachers crafting a rigorous outdoor curriculum. 

In the summer of 2016, NEC teacher Lisa Chase could have spent her time off in flip-flops at the pool with a book. Instead, she spent much of her summer in leather boots deep in the woods of a state park in Helen, Georgia, as she engaged in an eight-week course to become a certified Georgia Master Naturalist. Far from a classroom, she was still studying though—about bees, insects, reptiles, mammals, and birds in their natural habitats. “This area has always been my interest and background. My passion, really,” Lisa said.  

Designed by the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the Georgia Master Naturalist certification program provides hands-on environmental education that explores habitats and ecosystems in Georgia. Through a combination of lectures and field studies, Lisa studied habitats such as swamps, ponds, rivers, wetlands, mountains, forests, and farms. She shares this knowledge with GAC students each day in the NEC learning space. 

Passionate about her students and her subject matter, she teaches from experience. The Georgia Master Naturalist completed her master's degree in middle grades math and science education during December of 2018. For undergrad, she studied Zoology at The Ohio State University, followed by research at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her transition from animals to teaching them to students was seamless--working with both is where her passion lies. In the spring of 2017, she added beehives into the curriculum, allowing students to work closely, but safely, with nature's hardest workers. 

"There’s not enough time to teach everything we want to teach,” she smiles. Thankfully for our students, she fits in plenty.