MUCSATINE, Iowa–For years, Muscatine High School teacher Rachel Hansen has incorporated National Geographic into her world Model UN class. A National Geographic Certified Educator, Hansen has received several grants from the organization, including an ongoing collaborative grant that allows her class to partner with a National Geographic explorer. For the past two years, students have had opportunities to communicate with photo journalists working in international locations to learn first hand about their work and the issues they investigate. The grants have also allowed her and her students to produce the “Locally Global” podcast, which looks at issues both from a local perspective and in light of the work of the collaborating explorer.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, National Geographic turned their @insidenatgeo Instagram account over to four separate teachers on four different days to highlight the work they have done with their classes to learn more about women who have influenced history. On March 31, Hansen and her class took over for a day.
Throughout the course of her takeover, Hansen shared four podcasts her students created looking at women who impacted local history as well as modern day indigenous women around the world working for greater equality and environmental protection. The podcasts sought to go past just highlighting women who had significant first achievements and to explore the context of their work and the difficulties they had to overcome to make their mark.
The first featured Susan Clark and why her case to integrate schools mattered so much in Iowa, why it took so long for other states to follow suit, and how her story helps understand present day efforts to make schools more equal for students of all races. The second introduced Rosa Mendosa and how her work at the Diversity Service Center of Iowa has assisted numerous immigrants and migrant workers in Muscatine County over the past 20 years. Their third installment chronicled how women in the Philippines banded together to challenge gender expectations and found Cleopatra’s Needle nature reserve. Their final piece shared the story of the Lummi Nation in Washington and their work to release captive whales into the wild, as whales represent the importance of matriarchal society in their culture.
In all of her work, Hansen strives to place the focus on her students and let their skills and experiences guide their learning. She valued the opportunity to take over @insidenatgeo as a way to share their stories and perspectives with a wider audience. “Students have great stories to tell, if we listen,” she said. ” I’m excited to put some of the student’s work on Nat Geo’s page.”
She also feels honored that she and her class, out of all the ones that work with National Geographic, received this opportunity to present their work. “It’s just kind of surreal,” she added. “National Geographic has been a partner in my work, I’m so humbled.”