Atta girl! Atta boy! Atta diversity!

Burnsville high-school teacher Gabrielle Riesner has been named Outstanding Biodiversity Educator of the Year by Discover Life in America — the nonprofit coordinating the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. According to The Smoky Mountain News, Riesner has used ATBI training and lessons to work with her students at Mountain Heritage High School, who in turn have helped with field research at the park.

And Dr. Paul Bartels of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa was named Outstanding Scientist of the Year for helping to develop a lab for middle and high-school students to study acid-rain impacts on his favorite subject — a microscopic organism called the “waterbear.” The lab has led to experiments in classrooms across the state. ATBI, with a goal of documenting every living species in the park, has identified 858 species new to science and 5,116 species previously not known to inhabit the Park.

— Nelda Holder, associate editor


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