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Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Teachers and educators do what they do not for themselves, but for future generations. Teachers prepare children to be adults and the impact they will have on the world, and one of Jackson County’s educators who really take this duty to heart is Rick Ranew.

As the education specialist at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Ranew works with other staff members to design and implement programs that address current coastal issues on the school level from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“This is a job I’ve always wanted to have,” Ranew said. “What I do, basically, is that I develop curriculums for students kindergarten through 12th grade that deals with environmental science. I work alongside my staff. They do research, and I do everything from water sheds to estuaries to water quality to wetlands and litter.” 

Not only is Ranew able to educate any visitors to the Grand Bay NERR about the local environment and the impact they have on nature, but he also takes opportunities to visit Jackson County schools and bring the lessons to the classroom.

“I’ve gone on the road to schools that can’t come here,” he explained. “I just visited East Central Middle School, and I work to talk about what they are already covering in their classes.”

Classes that are able to take a field trip to the reserve are able to have Rick bring the lesson to life. They are able to actually see and experience what they are learning, and the visiting science teachers see the value in these visits.

“Once again, we have not been disappointed,” said Deborah Richardson, a 4th grade teacher at Escatawpa Upper Elementary School in Moss Point. “Our field trip to the Grand Bay NERR on April 28, was outstanding. Mr. Rick Ranew and his volunteer were so kind and knowledgable. The students and teachers truly enjoyed the experience. Some of the students who participated had this to say: ‘It was fantastic; the hike along the boardwalk was fun.’ ‘I liked the scavenger hunt and the animals we got to see.’ ‘It was especially exciting to see the osprey nest and deer tracks.’

As the website states, ‘The Education Program of the Grand Bay NERR is integrated program of life-long learning opportunities designed to educate a variety of audiences on the importance of wisely caring for estuary, or coastal resources.’ Our students here at Moss Point Escatawpa Upper, due to the social economic makeup of the community, do not get the do not get the opportunity to visit such sites on their own. It is only through the generous offers that are funded by the state we are able to adventure out to our own backyard and participate in the k-16 Community Educational Program. Being able to visit the many habitats of the reserve as living laboratories and classrooms truly brings it to life for the students. To experience a field trip to the Grand Bay NERR first-hand is a once in a lifetime opportunity is not only educational, but thrilling for these students. As a teacher, it’s priceless to be able to take our students to a world that we know they’ll never be able to experience on their own.

Again, thank you for a memorable educational experience at the Grand Bay NERR in Moss Point, Mississippi.”

Not only will Ranew take student visitors, but he enjoys teaching those of all ages.

“I recently had veterans come out, and I gave them a tour,” Ranew said. “We’re going to have them come back out in the fall for fishing. I also do a program during the summer where I take retired people and put them together with some students, and it allows students to tap into the wisdom of these senior citizens. I’m all about inspiring and enthusiasm.”

The passion for his work is clear to anyone who has the chance to speak to Ranew. 

“I love what I’m doing. It’s not that I have to do it, I get to do it, he explained. “I’m 63 and retirement isn’t in my vocabulary. I want to inspire future generations to become good stewards of the coastal habitats, knowing that seafood comes from estuaries and rivers. I encourage them, especially young ladies, to go into science. Our best scientists are young ladies on staff. I am very passionate of taking care of what we’ve got. And one day they will be one ones making decisions for the coast. If I can inspire one student when I have a group out here, I’ve done my job.”

The impact he has on his students is a lasting one, as some visitors will even say that want to grow up to be like Rick Ranew.


Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.


Written by Yolanda Cruz

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