Meet the new Executive Director of VFLC, Dr. Karl Topper!Dr. Karl Topper has over 20 years of teaching experience at the elementary to college levels. He is also a soil scientist working on a wide range of environmental science projects. Karl has developed authentically integrated STEAM educational programs and teaching techniques which promote literacy learning and student engagement. These techniques have been applied in the traditional classroom settings, student enrichment programs, and shared with teachers through workshops. Prior to his more recent work as a STEM educator, he taught environmental science and science education at Colorado Mesa University. During this time, he developed a new environmental technology program that required extensive curriculum and materials development. He was the principal investigator on a variety of NSF projects, with focus on tribal college education. These programs supported tribally controlled colleges’ outreach to their local communities with an emphasis on science education and curriculum development in a culturally appropriate manner.

As a soil scientist, Dr. Topper’s work experience includes evaluation of soil amendments and contamination, water quality monitoring (surface and ground water), environmental site assessments, mined and disturbed land reclamation, radiological investigations, agricultural research, management of state analytical laboratories, and soil chemistry research. He published a book on sampling environmental media.

Having a scientist’s perspective coupled with more than 20 years of teaching experience has developed his understanding of our national need to reform science education. He has taught science education workshops for K–8th grade teachers with a focus on guided inquiry–based pedagogy and science content. Karl also developed and taught a variety of workshops for Tribal College Professors. He currently is writing a science education textbook and developing professional development training focused on supporting teachers’ capacity to teach integrated STEM with a literacy strand. Dr. Topper is a published scientist. He has presented numerous papers, implemented a variety of short courses, and has acquired over $1 million in education grants. Currently Karl is settling into his new home near Telluride where he is establishing his new environmental and STEM consulting/service business.