Congratulations to Margaret Gillespie! Below is a nomination letter which sums up why she is so deserving of this award.
To say that I have known Margaret “Tiggy” Gillespie for a long time and have seen her in an incredible variety of teaching situations is a clear understatement.....
Here are some examples of how Tiggy effectively engages her audiences and promotes appreciation of and desire to learn about the natural world:
- While talking about skunks at a Manchester YMCA a student mentioned he had a skunk in his back yard and his father was going to eliminate it. Tiggy carefully and tactfully changed the kid’s attitude about “animals with bad reputations” by explaining how each animal fills a role in the whole ecological picture.
- During outreach programs with the porcupine, it tended to hang over the edge of the display table, like a mountain goat peering over a 300-foot precipice. Tiggy never lost her composure and skillfully diverted the animal’s attention back to safety while using the animal’s curious behavior to illustrate its instinctual habits.
- On Lake Ecology excursions, Tiggy got everyone on board to be involved with actually collecting useful data like taking bottom samples, checking water acidity and temperature at different strata, and assessing microscopic plankton in collected water samples. This helped the people on board get a small glimpse of the process of science and see the rigorous attention to detail required to get meaningful information. One of my jobs as a docent was to raise the anchor, and on a particularly windy day, Tiggy organized all the students to be a “chain gang” to help me pull in the anchor line and get it all into the pontoon boat.
In summing up, her interaction with students could be characterized not as a teacher giving a lecture but as a mutually shared adventure into the natural world. Over the years, I’ve seen countless ways Tiggy has engaged audiences, encouraged exploring the natural world, and displayed patience, kindness and respect for the students and the animal ambassadors of the Science Center.
Susan Stepp, Volunteer Docent