Melanie Engstrom, Senior Level Science and Math Teacher Earns the Arizona Game and Fish Department Educator of the Year Award

Posted by Community Relations at 9/10/2015

Melanie Engstrom, a senior level science and math teacher, has earned the Arizona Game and Fish Department Educator of the Year Award. In addition to her classroom experience, she was an intern with the Game and Fish Department’s turtles project and worked with the Phoenix Zoo’s education department. She also volunteers some of her time as a Teacher Ambassador in the Department’s Focus Wild Arizona wildlife education program.

She was one of the department’s first choices as a participant in the first-ever Teacher Academy.
When the Academy was completed, she took everything she learned and the contacts she had gained to develop an intensive, field-based classroom learning experience. She arranged to take her students on three separate field trips to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. During those field trips, the students were engaged in three focus areas: biomedical, engineering, and wildlife.


The Department has received much of these Kofa lessons that she designed and carried out, and is looking for ways to take her initial ideas and make them available to teachers statewide so they can follow in Engstrom’s footsteps.

She recently attended a professional development opportunity that gave her experience working with DNA and genetics. As a result, the Department’s Focus Wild Arizona teacher training program has partnered with Melanie to offer a Wildlife Genetics educator workshop in December, providing Arizona educators with an engaging, hands-on learning experience focusing on the Department’s work using genetics to understand wildlife populations better.

Bioscience principal Dr. DeeDee Falls says her nickname is ‘Road Warrior’ because she is often ‘on the road’ taking students to various parts of the state to investigate wildlife in their natural habitats.”