TORRANCE, Calif., Sept. 19, 2006–Twenty U.S. teachers, chosen as educational ambassadors through the Toyota International Teacher Program, will spend 10 days this fall exploring the rich environmental heritage of the Galapagos Islands, a designated World Heritage site off the coast of Ecuador.

Now in its ninth year, this is the first time the Toyota program will send teachers to the legendary Galapagos Islands. There they will observe and explore environmental projects, talk with experts and community leaders and participate in activities that encourage global awareness about environmental stewardship.

A key component will be a joint professional development forum of American and Galapagueño teachers.

They will spend two days together and will share innovative approaches to teaching environmental stewardship across all subjects and disciplines.

The delegation of 20 U.S. teachers represent 10 states this year–Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Washington, D.C. The selected teachers will bring their unique perspectives to those they meet in the Galapagos Islands, and upon their return to the U.S., expand their own curriculum.

“This is a new opportunity for teachers to receive a global environmental perspective that they can take back to the classroom and their communities,” said Michael Rouse, corporate manager, philanthropy and community affairs at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. “We are proud to provide teachers a chance to explore environmental sustainability as it relates to the balance of humans and nature.”

Toyota has been involved in the Galapagos Islands since 2001, when, in response to the Jessica oil tanker spill, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) approached Toyota for assistance in rethinking transportation and energy use on the islands. Toyota and WWF developed the Galapagos Energy Blueprint, which outlines a long-term vision and implementation plan to transform the high-polluting energy systems on the islands to cleaner, sustainable systems. Toyota’s partnership with WWF has grown over the past five years, and Toyota has supported and/or funded many of the projects outlined in the Blueprint, including oil recycling programs, renovation of the main oil depot for the islands, renewable energy workshops for high school teachers and recycling programs. Education and community outreach have been key components of all of these projects.

Funded through an annual $1.2 million grant from TMS, the Toyota International Teacher Program is the only one of its kind sponsored by a major U.S. corporation. This year’s trip to the Galapagos Islands will take place October 27 through November 8 and will include many forms of rigorous physical activities while visiting several locations in the Galapagos Islands, including the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal.

The 20 educators traveling to the Galapagos Islands teach a variety of subjects and were selected based on their professional and leadership qualifications, as well as their plans to incorporate their experiences and research into their curriculum. To be eligible, teachers must be a U.S. citizen, employed full-time as a secondary classroom teacher (grades 7-12) and have a minimum of three years teaching experience.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) in Washington, D.C., the nation’s most experienced non-profit international exchange organization, administers the program. The Toyota International Teacher Program provides teachers with experiences and tools they can use to enable their students to think and act on a cooperative and global basis,” said IIE President and CEO Dr. Allan E. Goodman.

The study tour to the Galapagos Islands is just one of the professional development programs for teachers that Toyota will sponsor over the coming year. In the 2006-2007 school year, Toyota also will offer study visits to Japan and Costa Rica. Each program offers country-specific themes.

Founded in 1957, TMS is the sales, marketing, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion in the United States, marketing products and services through a network of 1,415 dealers in 49 states.

The teachers selected to participate in the 2006 Galapagos Islands study tour are:


Gregory Burch Flowing Wells Junior High School Tucson

Delisse Metcalf Chandler High School Chandler


Sally Clark Modoc High School Alturas

Sara Laimon Environmental Charter High School Lawndale Carol Yoo Montclair High School Montclair


Cristian Carranza Miami Southridge Senior High Miami

Amy Spies Creekside Middle School Port Orange

Joseph Underwood Miami Senior High School Miami


Owen Kinney Darlington School Rome

Olivia Roller Decatur High School Decatur


Christine Hill Highland Park High School Highland Park

New Jersey

Larry Ottman Haddon Heights Jr./Sr. High School Haddon Heights Linda Strauss Hunterdon Central Regional High School Flemington

New Mexico

Lisa Longeteig Santa Fe Indian School Santa Fe

New York

Damian Griffin MS 118 Bronx

Thomas Hennigan DeRuyter School DeRuyter

Christina Steurrys Strough Middle School Rome


Loretta Medellin Fox Tech High School San Antonio

Penny Smeltzer Westwood High School Austin

Washington, D.C.

Erika Pereira MacFarland Middle School Washington, D.C.

About Toyota’s Education Programs

In addition to sponsoring a number of nonprofit educational organizations, Toyota offers three major programs that support teachers with grants and students with scholarships; Toyota TAPESTRY, the largest K-12 science teacher grant program of its kind in the U.S.; Toyota Community Scholars, which provides 100 scholarships to high school seniors based on academics and community service and the Toyota International Teacher Program. Toyota also supports scholarships through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; United Negro College Fund; Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation; National FFA and the American Indian College Fund. In 2005, Toyota USA contributed nearly $41 million to U.S. philanthropic programs, with a majority of funding supporting education. For more information, visit or contact

About the Institute of International Education

An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute is the world’s most experienced global higher education and professional exchange organization. IIE designs and implements over 250 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. The Institute of International Education has a network of 15 offices worldwide, over 800 college and university members and more than 5,000 volunteers. Information about IIE can be obtained from IIE’s Web site, or by contacting Nancy Overholt at


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