Personal Genetics Education Project

pgEd roadtrip in South Dakota to visit teachers, students and communities

On Apr 24-26, the pgEd team traveled from Boston to South Dakota to meet with teachers, students and communities to lay the groundwork for our 2018 summer professional development workshop in Sioux Falls. The trip, organized by our partners at the Sanford Program for the Midwest Initiative in Science Exploration (PROMISE), was a valuable opportunity for us to learn about the rural as well as Native American communities that we hope to work more closely with in the near future. Over the three-day trip, the pgEd team got to meet with local leaders in education and healthcare, attend a student-led “Personal Genetics Community Experience” at Harrisburg High School, and go on a 350-mi roadtrip to visit four rural schools around southeastern SD.

On the evening of Apr 25, over a hundred students, community members, and a number of education officials attended the community experience led by students of Harrisburg High. Two teachers from the school — science teacher Lisa Cardillo and social studies teacher Colby Peterson — attended pgEd’s “Genetics and Social Justice” workshop in Boston in July 2016. Upon returning to SD, Lisa and Colby guided their students to organize an event to foster wider conversations about personal genetics in the Harrisburg / Sioux Falls community. The students spent several weeks learning pgEd’s curriculum, and were divided into groups to each present one of our lessons to community members, which included their siblings, parents and grandparents. The community event was a great success, and pgEd was truly inspired by the many conversations we had that evening, as well as the initiative taken by the teachers and students at Harrisburg High School to organize this first-of-its-kind event.

On Apr 26, Sanford PROMISE program director Liz McMillan and the pgEd team went on the road to visit four high schools in rural communities around South Dakota: Montrose, Mitchell, Wagner (within the Yankton Reservation) and Bon Homme. pgEd was honored to meet the teachers and students in each community, to tell them about pgEd’s curriculum, and most importantly, to listen and learn about the distinct opportunities and needs of each community. pgEd will continue the conversation with this newfound network of friends, and work with them to tailor our workshop next year so that it will best serve the needs of teachers from South Dakota.

We can’t wait to return to SD in summer 2018!
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