All in 220: Edith Auchter
When Edith Auchter’s oldest daughter started kindergarten at Countryside Elementary School in 1987 she was asked to volunteer as a math tutor. The request sparked in Auchter a passion for volunteerism and service that the Barrington 220 community has reaped the benefits from for nearly 40 years.
“I realized how much I enjoyed fostering the students’ learning. I became active in the Countryside School PTO and began attending Barrington 220 Board meetings,” Auchter said.
Journey to Barrington
Born on the east coast, Auchter and her family moved to the St. Louis area when she was young. She ended up attending Washington University in St. Louis, where she remembers being the only female mechanical engineer major at the time. She started her career at Motorola, working on some of the first cell phones, before working as a project engineer at Sargent & Lundy, an engineering firm that serves clients in the power, energy, gas, industrial, and government sectors. She stayed there for five years, designing nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants.
In 1986 when they were expecting their third child, she and her husband moved to Barrington. “We were looking for more open natural spaces, a larger home for our growing family, and good schools,” Auchter said.
Auchter ended up serving a collective 28 years as an active PTO member at Countryside, Hough Street, BMS-Station Campus, and Barrington High School. She was an active member of the Horseshoe Club, a non-profit organization that was established to raise funds to enhance and expand athletic facilities and programs at BHS. In addition, Auchter went from Board of Education meeting attendee to serving on the Board from 1991-2001. “I campaigned on the slogan of ‘Excellence and Accountability. EA, just like my initials,” Auchter said. “Fiduciary responsibility, balanced budgeting, and educational excellence were extremely important factors that were necessary for sustainability.”
Perhaps one of Auchter’s most recognizable roles within the school district is as the “Nature Lady” at Grove Avenue Elementary. Since 1993 she has made weekly visits to Grove classrooms and has helped conduct annual science field studies with the students.
“Edith is a passionate nature lady and devoted conservationist who tirelessly dedicates her time and expertise to educating elementary children about the wonders of the natural world,” said Dr. Becky Gill, Barrington 220 Director of Elementary Curriculum & Instruction.
“Through her inspiring efforts, she instills a profound love and respect for nature in the hearts of young minds, fostering a generation of environmentally-conscious stewards.”
One of those young minds is former Grove Avenue student, Emily Rose Nelson. After graduating from BHS in 2011, Nelson studied marine science and biology at the University of Miami in Florida. She now lives in Barrington but works remotely as a marine scientist for a company based out of Florida called Ocean Consulting. “Seeing Edith as the Nature Lady at Grove opened my eyes to careers in conservation, preservation, and wildlife,” Nelson said.
A Lasting Impact
Among the greater Barrington area, Auchter is well-known for her work with the non-profit organization Citizens for Conservation. As CFC’s current Treasurer, past President, and as a Board member since 2002, Auchter says she has attended several conferences through the years where former 220 students have commented on Barrington 220’s commitment to outdoor education and the impact it has had on their career choices in the environmental field.
“It is exciting to help young children experience and learn about our natural world,” Auchter said. “Often on successive visits, students will share with me what they remember from previous visits and their subsequent independent research. I enjoy inspiring their curiosity.”
After Auchter served on the Barrington 220 Board of Education for a decade, she volunteered for many years as a math tutor in the BHS Math Resource Center. "Each year, several would ask if I had been their Nature Lady at Grove almost a decade earlier. I am pleased their memories are as wonderful as mine."