K-12 Teacher Researcher

Teacher-Researcher Callin Switzer artificially pollinates an Echinacea angustifolia plant to assess mating compatibility

Applications for 2021 are now open! Please submit your materials by December 31st, 2020.

Join our team to investigate ecology, evolution, and conservation biology in fragmented tallgrass prairie under the beautiful skies of  Douglas County, Minnesota! We explore biological processes in remnant prairies and collect data in 27 long-term experiments. We conduct cutting-edge research on plant populations, insect communities, pollination, prescribed fires, and prairie management. You will be a part of a diverse science team including professors teachers, and students (undergraduate, graduate students, and high school).You will develop an independent project by building on this ongoing work or branching out in a new direction. You will return to the classroom with a plan and funding to encourage your students with new techniques and experiences gained in the field

The Echinacea Project is recruiting an enthusiastic K-12 or community college educator for a paid professional development opportunity researching tallgrass prairie during the summer field season. As an NSF-funded RET participant you will gain hands-on experience collecting experimental data, ask novel questions by developing an independent research project and design a plan to bring scientific concepts and methods into your classroom.

Previous RET participants’ projects have included:

  • Designing a lesson plan for students to generate and test hypotheses about plants their natural habitat
  • Developing bee collection methods for secondary and post-secondary classrooms
  • Establishing an experimental prairie restoration for students to develop science skills such as hypothesis testing and data collection
  • Creating an experimentation-based outdoor lesson plan and assessing students’ responsiveness to different learning techniques
  • Constructing a dichotomous key for pollen identification in high school biology classes

If you are interested in research and collaborating with other scientists, please apply! RET participants will receive a stipend, reimbursement for travel costs and housing near the field site. We strongly encourage educators from underfunded school districts, and educators from groups underrepresented in science to apply. Please download and complete this form and send it to Stuart Wagenius along with your resume. Please arrange for a letter of recommendation to be sent to Stuart as well. Email all application materials to echinaceaproject@gmail.com. Applications for summer 2021 are due by December 31st, 2021. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and employed as a science educator at a K-12 school or community college.


Lea (bottom row, third from left) and Matt (Top row, second from left) were RET participants in 2015. Lea is now in her fourth year of her PhD at Northwestern University and conducts her research in Minnesota with Team Echinacea!

Want to learn more about who we are? Please explore our field blog and follow these links to read blog posts by previous Team Echinacea RETs:

Meet Callin |Meet Greg|Meet Lea |Meet Sara|Meet John

John (RET participant 2018 & 2019) measures plants in one of our experimental plots with two undergraduate researchers, Jay and Avery