Elena Sparrow was recently honored with a U.S. presidential award for her excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics mentoring.
Sparrow is a University of Alaska Fairbanks research professor and the education outreach director at the International Arctic Research Center.
The award, which includes a $10,000 National Science Foundation grant, recognizes the important role mentors play in the academic and professional development of future STEM professionals. Sparrow was one of 27 individuals chosen for the award and the only recipient from Alaska.
“Each day more and more jobs require a strong foundation in STEM education, so the work that you do as teachers and mentors helps ensure that all students can have access to limitless opportunities and the brightest of futures,” said Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president for technology policy, in a June 25 news release.
Sparrow founded the Alaska Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program more than 20 years ago. The Alaska GLOBE program brings science content and the scientific process into K-12 classrooms. The program has mentored and trained over 1,400 teachers and trainers from more than 50 countries.
Throughout her career, Sparrow has also mentored students through other programs, such as the Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site and the Alaska
Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. She created a high school summer research internship program for rural Alaska students. She helped recognize female K-12 students with outstanding science fair projects. She currently leads the Experience Science, Expect a Challenge event, where Alaska Girl Scouts participate in hands-on activities related to soil science, wildlife biology, botany and other fields. She also mentors for the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists.