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Announcing the Cumberland River Compact Teacher Fellowship

March 4, 2024

The Cumberland River Compact Teacher Fellowship

Be part of a community of practice encouraging environmental learning, collaboration and professional growth for teachers.

The best stewards of the environment are equipped with the knowledge, experiences, and skills to make an impact in their communities and beyond. Since 2021, the Cumberland River Compact has trained nearly 700 educators across Tennessee on how to implement environmental STEM content in their classrooms. These teachers go on to create the next generation of environmental stewards. To deepen the opportunities for creativity and innovation in the Cumberland River Compact educator network, we are excited to launch our first teacher fellowship program! 

The Compact’s new teacher fellowship is a yearlong immersive program for teachers who want to deeply engage their students in environmental learning, both in the classroom and beyond. As a teacher fellow, you will participate in in-person and virtual gatherings to develop new strategies and refine existing approaches for environmental education in your classroom. 

Whether you’re a seasoned educator looking for a space to cultivate new ideas, or you’re completely new to environmental topics, this fellowship has a lot to offer you. This is a unique opportunity for professional growth in a community of practice that encourages collaboration and innovation.

Target Audience: This is a selective program for 6th to 12th grade teachers in Middle Tennessee. Teachers from all disciplines are eligible. Educators are encouraged to apply as a team of two to work together at their school. Individuals are also welcome! 

Each participant will receive: 

  • $500 stipend (can be used for travel, supplies, and project implementation)
  • 20 Hours of Continuing Education Credit
  • In-person and virtual gatherings with peers and Compact staff
  • One free day of youth programming from a Compact educator during the 2024-2025 school year, scheduled based on availability
  • Recognition on the Compact’s website and social media
  • A certificate of achievement upon completion of the fellowship

Each Fellow Will:

  • Create and implement a project that applies real-world environmental phenomena to a curriculum topic of their choice. This project will employ e-STEM, or environmental STEM, best practices in their projects (hands-on, tangible theme, align with student interests, and foster student achievement and empowerment) in order to imbue students with a sense of place, a connection to nature, and a responsibility to steward their environment.
  • Connect with other teachers and environmental field experts throughout the school year to access support and share knowledge. 
  • Incorporate environmental career examples into their teaching to help connect students to career paths and get them excited about environmental careers.


  • Fellowship Kickoff Event: July 25th – 26th, 9am – 4pm (Nashville, TN)
    • Get to know your cohort members during a kayaking trip on the Cumberland River!
    • Experience ‘a day in the life’ of several Compact Staff members to gain firsthand knowledge about environmental careers and how they connect to STEM.
    • Dive into the principles of e-STEM and look at examples of projects that bring the environment into the classroom. 
    • Design an innovative project that will integrate an environmental concept in your curriculum during the upcoming school year.
  • Virtual Check-ins: September – April (three 1 hour sessions, scheduled based on group availability)
    • Share your progress on implementing your project; discuss challenges and celebrate successes together. 
    • Hear from guest experts who will provide insight into a topic or career of interest to the cohort (teachers will identify these during the kickoff event).
  • End of School Year Celebration: May 17th 2025, 9am – 12pm (Nashville, TN)
    • Congratulate the other fellows in your cohort at a half-day celebration 
    • Receive your certificate of completion
    • Share the outcome of your project with the Compact Staff and other leaders in the field of education who will be present to recognize your accomplishments.

*Note: In-person events will take place in Nashville. Lodging is not included.  

Apply Here

The application deadline is April 20th. Accepted participants will be notified by April 30. Space is limited to ten participants.


Join us for a virtual open house on April 9th (3 – 4pm) or April 10th (6 – 7pm) to drop in and learn more!

or contact


Meet the Facilitator

Ellen Ward is the Education and Engagement Coordinator at the Cumberland River Compact, where she builds community through teacher workshops, curriculum building, and outreach events. Ellen has a B.S. in Wildlife Science and a B.S. in Animal and Poultry Science from Virginia Tech and a M.S. Environmental Education and M.A. in Teaching from Southern Oregon University. She earned a middle/high school science teaching credential, and has ten years of experience working with pre-k through adult learners in formal and informal settings. She serves on the board of the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, and enjoys hiking, gardening, and baking sourdough bread in her spare time.