John Gardner, research professor of biology and director of the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair at Brigham Young University, recently won the Dick Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to public schools from the Utah Science Teachers Association. 

“It is a great honor,” Gardner said. “There are a lot of deserving people.”

Gardner has directed the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair for 20 years along with other BYU outreach programs for public schools. The yearly science fair has been on campus for approximately 25 years and involves 28,000 to 30,000 students from five school districts. Gardner said many of these young students go on to receive scholarships, grants and even publish their own work. Some even get the chance to do graduate level research while they’re still in high school.

“What we try to do is give students opportunities,” he said. “These kids are hardworking, so we try to give them opportunities to move their ambitions forward.”

This is Gardner’s third award from the Utah Science Teachers Association. In both 2000 and 2001, he won the Utah Science Educator of the Year Award.

“Dr. Gardner has represented the department and university well in this effort for a sustained period of time to earn this lifetime achievement award,” said Keith Crandall, Biology Department chair at BYU. “He has played a key role for many years in facilitating this opportunity for students throughout the state.  He was instigating and participating in ‘active student learning’ long before this became the catchphrase of higher education.”

The Utah Science Teachers Association represents scientists and science educators who work together to promote excellence in science teaching in grades K-college.

For more information, contact Keith Crandall at (801) 422-2582 or e-mail keith_crandall@byu.edu.

Writer: Mel Gardner