By Dallas Kelley, Director of Public Affairs, Audubon Texas
The Tamar Chotzen Educator of the Year Award (established in 2007) recognizes outstanding talent and accomplishments by Audubon staff educators across the country. We all know the best educators leave an impact on their students beyond what curriculum they may have taught and Yvette is known for her magical moments.
Tamar Chotzen served as Audubon’s vice president of centers and education from 1999 until 2005. During her tenure, Chotzen led the organization's efforts to grow its network of centers. The Chotzen Award honors three employees whose primary responsibility is on-the-ground education in an Audubon state office, at a center operated by the National Audubon Society, or at a center that has a formal licensing agreement with Audubon.
Yvette recently launched our ninth cohort of Audubon Conservation Leaders, traditionally partnering with Texas schools in underrepresented communities on career-focused conservation science and service for high school students. She has expanded the program beyond female-based cohorts to be more inclusive of interested participants regardless of gender identification. The students learn science-based conservation education, experience field-based conservation, develop leadership skills, and gain confidence in their ability to make conservation impact. During their time, the students have shared their impacts with Audubon Texas members, and even joined our team as summer interns.
As Yvette lifts her students, administrators, and community partners beyond the curriculum and instruction, she makes her cohorts feel seen and heard. Notably, this year Yvette led a conversation with the students about the name of the program and any barriers they perceived. The students discussed where they see themselves in the conservation movement and voted to change the program name to Texas Leaders in Conservation, or TLC. And that’s what Yvette brings to the learning and to the interpersonal connections and growth of these cohorts – a whole lotta TLC.