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From the president.

The July 2, 1938 issue of The New York Times heralded the formation of a national organization whose purpose was to improve biology teaching and by the following October, the first volume of The American Biology Teacher was published. No small feat when you consider the social and economic difficulties of the depression era. While reading the history of this organization in As We Remember It (2001) by George Jeffers and Jerry Lightner, two qualities of that founding group stood out as having a significant impact on the early survival of NABT. I believe those two qualities are now two core values present in the organization today. The values are an unwavering sense of purpose and lasting friendship.

The purpose for NABT as outlined by the 18 biologists meeting at the Hotel New Yorker in 1938 is still the foundation from which NABT does its work.
 ... to encourage scientific thinking and the utilization of the
 scientific method through the teaching of biology ... facilitate
 the dissemination of the biological knowledge which is most
 vitalizing and useful to the public in everyday life, and aid
 biology teachers generally. (Attributed to the founder of NABT, Dr.
 Oscar Riddle of the Carnegie Institute, as reported in the New York
 Times, July 2, 1938.)

Seventy years later the technology, biological knowledge, research on teaching, and educational climate have changed, but the purpose of NABT has not. Biology teaching is still at the very core of every student's educational experience and biology teachers at all levels are still shouldering the responsibility of developing a scientifically literate citizenry. True to our founding purpose, NABT provides content updates in the biological sciences, the sharing of how to create learning experiences, and a personal connection with other biology teachers and researchers.

Connection is the prerequisite to what I believe is the second core value unique to NABT, deep and lasting friendships. It happened in New York in 1938:
 It's interesting to note that friendships developed between
 delegates that hot July day in New York City were lasting; they
 contributed in no small degree to holding the NABT together during
 the Association's tenuous first years of existence. (Jeffers &
 Lightner, 2001).

If you ask NABT members at the Professional Development Conference why they are members and keep coming back, the reply will always include a reference to friends. Lasting friendships still hold NABT together and I hope you will have the opportunity to experience this 70-year-old phenomenon by attending our Professional Development Conference in Memphis next fall.

There is a word that describes the result of a powerful relationship between purpose, values, and an organization. The word is resilience: demonstrating qualities of flexibility, spirit, and hardiness. One could say that the same result occurs when the relationship exists between purpose, values, and the individual. Based on the 70-year history of NABT and its bond with its members, that is indeed the case.


Jeffers, G.W. & Lightner, J.P. (2001). As We Remember It: A Personal Recollection of the First Four Decades of the National Association of Biology Teachers. Round Hill, VA: JLX Publishers.

Riddle, O. (1938, July 2). The New York Times. NY, NY.

Todd Carter

NABT President--2008
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Author:Carter, Todd
Publication:The American Biology Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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