Todd Hester, museum naturalist with University of Alabama Museums, was recently named the Environmental Educator of the Year by the Environmental Educators Association of Alabama.
As the only museum naturalist in the UA System, Hester leads the Alabama Museum of Natural History’s field science program, museum tours and outdoor excursions that focus on environmental issues for groups ranging from pre-K students to the elderly.
“I love being able to educate others about the uniqueness and diversity of our state’s environment,” said Hester. “Growing up and living in Alabama, you hear other’s negative opinions about the South so it’s really awesome to see people light up when they learn all these great things about their state.”
Hester’s expansive teaching repertoire can be tailored not only to various environmental topics, but also to groups of any age. While his work with young students may involve a lot of storytelling and arts and crafts, Hester’s college-age groups participate in activities that include canoe trips and water chemical testing.
While Hester enjoys teaching a wide variety of topics, some of his favorites include dinosaur fossils, Alabama’s coal age and topics surrounding climate change.
“Human-induced climate change is a hot topic and using the coal age that we have represented geologically in Alabama is a perfect way to talk about climate change,” said Hester.
Hester says he is extremely honored that a state organization of his peers recognized him as the Environmental Educator of the Year because it validates his hard work in promoting the environmental beauty of the state of Alabama.
“It’s really nice to be recognized for something that I love doing and to hear that I’m making a difference,” said Hester.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.