National Association of Biology Teachers
Program, Organizational Structure, Membership and Financial Support
The National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) is the only national association specifically organized to help educators at all levels improve the teaching of biology and life sciences. The purposes of the NABT are exclusively scientific, educational, literary, and charitable. Constitutionally, its objectives are to plan and administer projects for the advancement and utilization of knowledge in biology education; to make available to teachers information concerning the selection, organization, and presentation of biological materials in the classroom; to encourage research in biology education; and to promote understanding of the interrelationships between biology and society, ethics, and the other sciences.
Since its formation in 1938 the NABT has concerned itself with an evolving series of issues facing educators of biology and life sciences. Early in its history the association recognized the need for improved conservation education in secondary schools. Later, the NABT promulgated strong positions on the ethical use of animals in the biology classroom. During the 1990s and early 2000s the NABT emphasized the importance of teaching evolutionary theory, the role of biology education in the prevention of HIV/AIDS, and the need to address the impact of global climate change, population growth, and genetic technology. The NABT encourages biology teachers to study such issues, and offers teachers resources for presenting these topics clearly and accurately in the classroom.
The association has also focused its attention on the plight of teachers who are concerned about the social implications of certain subjects pursued in their classrooms. Teachers react differently to controversial issues, depending on their own personalities and backgrounds, the mores of the local community, and the relative authoritarian nature of their school administrators. The NABT believes that biological concepts and discoveries have important implications for society, and the organization fights for the right of teachers to introduce students to these implications.
In 1962 the NABT initiated the nationwide Outstanding Biology Teacher Award program, which recognizes exceptional teachers working with seventh-through twelfth-grade students; one teacher is chosen from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. This award represents the NABT's attempt to recognize and call attention to outstanding performance in the classroom. The Outstanding New Biology Teacher Achievement Award recognizes an educator who has been teaching for fewer than three years. The NABT also presents an annual Evolution Education Award to honor an educator who has made an outstanding effort to promote the accurate understanding of evolution in the community and the classroom. Other annual NABT awards include the Award for Excellence in Encouraging Equity, the Biotechnology Teaching Award, and the Distinguished Service Award.
The American Biology Teacher, published nine times per year, is the official journal of the NABT. It features ideas for biology projects, classroom demonstrations, and science experiments; editorials and book reviews; and articles discussing advances in the life sciences and the social and ethical issues of modern biology. NABT News and Views, published four times a year, is the newsletter of the association. It features articles of interest to active members and carries information about NABT programs and events, as well as teaching resources, professional opportunities, and activities of the organization's board, committees, and sections. The NABT also publishes numerous books about issues in biology education, and produces useful online resources for the teacher. The website Biotechnology on a Shoestring helps biology teachers in high schools and two-year colleges provide to high quality instruction on a limited budget. The NABT joined forced with the American Society for Microbiology to produce the Microbial Literacy Collaborative, a program to foster awareness of the world of microbiology through radio programs, books, and websites.
The NABT holds a national conventional each year and also sponsors one or more regional conferences. Thousands of educators attended the 2001 NABT convention, which featured 350 presentations and 140 exhibits. NABT also sponsors frequent seminars and workshops to improve and update biology teachers' knowledge of content and techniques.
The NABT is divided into six sections: elementary/middle school, two-year college, four-year college, multicultural affairs, the role and status of women in biology education, and retired members. Each section is responsible for developing programs in its area. The NABT is governed by a 25-member board of directors. An executive committee transacts business of the association between meetings of the board. A full-time headquarters staff manages the daily administration of the association and implements the policies set by the board of directors.
Membership and Financial Support
Membership in NABT is available to anyone expressing an interest in biological education. There are eight classes of membership: active, student, comprehensive, foreign, spouse, organizational, sustaining, and life. The dues differ with membership class. In 2001 the NABT's total membership exceeded 9,000. Dues and subscriptions accounted for most of the association's annual income. Private and institutional donations, advertising in the journal, and convention fees provided the rest.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BIOLOGY TEACHERS. 2002. <www.nabt.org>.
JERRY P. LIGHTNER
JUDITH J. CULLIGAN
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