Fred Beyer was well known among long-time science educators for his film series “What on Earth” that was produced during his time with the Department of Instruction in the 70’s. The series explained geology concepts to thousands of students and teachers across North Carolina and beyond as the series focused on the geologic history of North Carolina. Many years later, Fred wrote a book that continues to explain our geologic history to students and science educators.
After working at DPI for many years, Fred moved to Cumberland County as the District Science Coordinator. In this position, he guided the K-12 teachers of the county in a way that encouraged them to provide hands-on, inquiry-based science at all levels. Fred was always eager to help leaders in other districts to do the same. He was in the group that organized the North Carolina Science Teachers Association (NCSTA) and planned the first conference, which he hosted in Fayetteville.
Fred was a top-notch geologist. Leaders in education and geologists in industry often turned to Fred for advice about the earth science curriculum and ways to best teach earth science concepts and principles to our students. The workshops and fieldtrips that Fred volunteered to lead for teachers are too many to list. He worked with the National Association of Geology Teachers to provide yearly fieldtrips in the mountains, across the piedmont and up and down the coastal plain to science teachers at all levels. It was hard to tell which trip was his favorite, but he did spend a lot of time in the Aurora phosphate mine and along the coast. Every year he organized and led fieldtrips for entire grade levels of Cumberland County students to learn about the coastal geology and ecology of North Carolina.
Fred was involved with promoting science education in many ways. He helped with the science fair, Science Olympiad, NC Academy of Science, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, and in any other way to recognize students for their accomplishments in science. He also mentored many teachers in science education who were later recognized for their distinguished service to the field. He was an active member of the National Science Teachers Association. He regularly attended their conferences to present and bring back important ideas to help teachers here. After he retired, Fred continued to support science educators. He served as a representative for Fisher Scientific and helped teachers select materials and equipment to better teach science. He also helped schools and districts design science classrooms and laboratories.
In recent years, Fred organized and operated the best Earth Science Listserve in the country. He worked with leaders in the various disciplines of earth science to glean the most important and timely information for classroom teachers. Many teachers depend upon the information they got from Fred on a weekly basis.
Fred served on the Awards Committee of NCSTA to facilitate the recognition of teachers and educators for their work in promoting science education. He always supported the interests of science educators and students in North Carolina by chairing the Legislative Committee. During the years, Fred served as President of NCSTA and continued to serve on the Board as a most valued advisor until his death. The NCSLA Herman Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Education Leadership in North Carolina award goes to the person who has exemplified the high standards the late Herman Gatling of Durham County set in his job and in his life. This award recognizes the recipient as the outstanding science education leader in the state of North Carolina. NCSLA Annually gives a Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award to the person who has performed a great service to science education in North Carolina.
In 1997 Fred Beyer received the Herman Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Leadership and 2010 the Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award showing he has gone above and beyond the requirements of the workplace and provided outstanding leadership and service to science education at the district, regional, and state levels and beyond.
Fred’s untimely death has left us with a hole in our hearts and in the organization. There is no way we can provide the level and quality of support that will match the example Fred has set. We can only hope that the efforts of many of us can combine to positively influence the science instruction of the children across North Carolina in a way that would make Fred proud! We will surely miss Fred Beyer!