Colorado Science Teacher Encourages Students to Become Environmental Changemakers

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Yajaira Fuentes-Tauber pursued a biology degree in college with plans of attending medical school. However, a temporary position teaching science in Texas altered the trajectory of her career.

“I came to the realization that while I liked medicine, my true passion was in teaching,” she shared.

Currently, Fuentes-Tauber teaches biology at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is enthusiastic about promoting STEM education access and empowering students to instigate change.

A portrait of a woman with dark hair and glasses.
Yajaira Fuentes-Tauber, a science instructor at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins.(Courtesy of Skillman Photography)

Her students have authored books on river otters and built “bee hotels” using reclaimed wood.

Recognized as the 2023 Earth Science Teacher of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists Foundation, Fuentes-Tauber was also one of the three Colorado science teachers nominated as state finalists in the 2022-23 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Fuentes-Tauber delved into her initial teaching misperceptions, the impact her students have on watershed health, and her approach to making ocean health relevant in a landlocked setting.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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