Grosvenor, director for the STEM Discovery Lab, is a champion for STEM education in the greater Manchester region

Sarah Grosvenor is the recipient of UNH Extension’s 2021 Maynard and Audrey Heckel Extension Educator Fellowship.

The Heckel fellowship is given to Extension educators for exemplary program accomplishments achieved through innovative and creative approaches in at least one of three areas: involving university faculty beyond traditional disciplines in meeting educational needs of New Hampshire citizens, developing and involving strong local leadership in support of Extension programs or assisting and supporting low-income families.

Sarah Grosvenor headshot

Grosvenor has been instrumental in the success of the STEM Discovery Lab (SDL) in Manchester and currently serves as its director.

Lara Gengarelly, science literacy state specialist with UNH Extension and affiliate associate professor with the UNH Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education, said about Grosvenor, “She is an expert in her subject area, well-respected by her colleagues, consistently exhibits strong leadership skills and implements programming that serves low-income families in New Hampshire.”

The STEM Discovery Lab’s mission is to engage with local communities to provide STEM education access and opportunities to volunteers, educators and youth. The SDL focuses on providing youth and educators in the Manchester/Nashua corridor with culturally responsive STEM-related programming.  Youth programs include after-school enrichment, summer camps and special events.  Adult programs include STEM Docent module and foundational workshops, teacher professional development and other skill-based workshops.

As part of Grosvenor’s leadership role for the Lab, she has collaborated with STEM faculty at UNH Manchester and has forged several effective community partnerships. The Granite United Way Youth Enrichment Partnership (YEP) brings together 14 organizations in Manchester through a hub and spoke model – the hubs are places that youth frequent like schools, after-school programs and summer camps; the spokes are evidence-based interventions that support academics, soft skills and health behaviors. Through this funding opportunity, the SDL has become a strong partner with local organizations and leaders from Granite United Way, Granite YMCA, Manchester Boys and Girls Club, Manchester Police Athletic League, Girls Inc., Southern New Hampshire University and Media Power Youth. 

Faculty and staff from both UNH campuses have been involved in a variety of ways with the SDL including serving as advisory committee members, instructors, guest speakers and keynote speakers, as well as providing guidance and information on specific STEM topics. 

Grosvenor was also instrumental in the design and launch of the Extension STEM Docent program in 2016. This volunteer program recruits, trains and coordinates teams of volunteer educators so they are highly successful in engaging and educating K-12 youth in STEM projects.

“Sarah is not only innovative but also committed to high-quality, research-informed practices when teaching both youth and adult educators. For instance, most recently, Sarah incorporated her expertise in cultivating a positive learning environment by including a social-emotional strategy, referred to as Circle of Power and Respect, into the STEM Docent Foundations training,” said Gengarelly.

Sarah Grosvenor looking at macroinvertebrates with son Theo

In reflecting on her work, Grosvenor explained, “The SDL is not a place, but a program that provides youth with opportunities to explore the natural and manmade world around them. Volunteers meet and discuss upcoming projects they want to try out. Teachers get to hone new ideas that they want to teach the next school year. It is where experts can share their knowledge with a new audience. It is where youth from a dozen different countries can come together to build a robot that searches for obstacles underwater.”

The Maynard and Audrey Heckel Extension Educator Fellowship is established at the University of New Hampshire Foundation, Inc. through the generosity of Maynard C. Heckel, director emeritus of UNH Cooperative Extension and professor emeritus of adult education, and his wife Audrey E. Heckel. Maynard Heckel spent his professional career associated with Cooperative Extension, starting as a county extension agent in northeastern Connecticut. He later served as a training leader and then as associate dean of the Extension Division at Virginia Tech, before moving to New Hampshire and assuming the position of director of Cooperative Extension and professor of adult education at the University of New Hampshire. During his tenure (1971-1983) as director of Cooperative Extension, he led the design and establishment of the extension educator ranking system. Still used today, this system clearly recognizes the educational role of professional cooperative extension agents and specialists in carrying out the outreach function so important to the mission of a land grant university. Seeing extension educators involved with a broader range of University resources in meeting the needs of New Hampshire citizens is the primary reason for establishing the Maynard and Audrey Heckel Extension Educator Fellowship.