Teacher explores environmental issues outside of the textbook


   In the age of using Instagram posts to combat climate change instead of action, it is difficult to find people who truly care about the environment. Heather Berry, a science teacher at HR, happens to be one of those select few.

   Growing up, Berry had a dog, parakeets, gerbils, and a lizard and was fond of animals. She had always wanted to become a veterinarian. This led her to pursue a microbiology and biology degree at Colorado State University and a masters at the University of Denver.

   She now works part-time at Highlands Ranch as an earth science and AP environmental science teacher. When she isn’t working at HR, she is a teacher support for the Office of Sustainability. “I help other teachers with whatever they need to implement environmental curriculum into their classes,” said Berry. 

   Berry has many accomplishments in the environmental field, including the Presidential Award for Innovation in Environmental Teaching in 2016, University of Colorado Outstanding Educator Award, Douglas County Secondary Apple Award Winner in 2017, and other district awards. However, she doesn’t consider any of these as her greatest accomplishment. 

   “My personal biggest accomplishment is just getting out into the world and seeing it and then bringing it back and sharing it with students,” Berry said. She said she has been fortunate enough to travel to many places including Iceland, Ecuador, the South Pacific, Hawaii, and the Amazon Rainforest. 

   Although Berry cares about the environment and tries to make a difference, she said that isn’t always the case with other adults. She thinks that teenagers need to step up because they are the generation that all of the environmental issues fall upon.

   Berry said, “[Teenagers] are the most important aspect of environmental change because you’re living in all of these messes that we’ve created. So the hard thing about trying to influence like what would be your grandparent’s generation is that they’ve been living the same way for so long, and they don’t really see what an impact like recycling a bottle would have. They just see it as like an extra chore.”

   According to the Wabe, a news website, teenagers can make a difference in the environment by lessening the impact of climate change through driving less, conserving water, using LED bulbs, and voting or protesting. Berry thinks that teenagers are the last hope to save our planet. 

   “You guys are growing up seeing all of the changes. You’re seeing the impacts of climate change. You’re seeing species disappear. You’re seeing pollution,” said Berry. “Developing an awareness is easier, but also you’re more inspired to do something about it because you see the impact. [Teenagers] can also look forward and see what could happen if we don’t change what we’re doing, so that’s actually why I teach.”

   Berry’s main goal for her teaching career is to inspire students to go out and do something about the problems they see. Patricia Jones, a senior, said Berry did just that to her own life.

   “After taking her class, I’ve started to carpool more, which may not sound like a lot but at least it’s something,” Jones said. “I’ve also started to pay more attention to environmental problems like climate change to try and figure out ways that I can help.”

   Berry cares more about how her students take charge to help the environment than whether or not she is remembered for her own efforts. 

   “I honestly don’t really care that I have a legacy necessarily,” Berry said. “More than anything, though, I guess that I want students to know that they can make a difference and, within my classes, I really work hard to show you and kind of guide you that you can make a difference. So, I guess if anyone remembers anything about anything that I teach them, it’s just that they can do something.”

Maddie Browning, Guest Reporter

Berry on the South Pacific HRHS science field study in Waimangu, New Zealand on June 10, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Cassie MacArthur