Ina Ahern, New Hampshire
Ina Ahern teaches chemistry, physics, and environmental science at Plymouth Regional High School.
A high school science teacher for 25 years, Ina often makes presentations to other educators about how to incorporate the local environment into teaching. In 2006, she was one of a pioneer group of teachers to participate in the yearlong program, A Forest for Every Classroom, cosponsored in New Hampshire by PLT, the U.S. Forest Service, and Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, and has since formally presented her experiences to incoming teachers.
Ina is committed to making environmental education a part of New Hampshire schools. Last year, she participated in a summer institute to sequence and correlate PLT activities (along with four other environmental education program materials) to New Hampshire’s science frameworks for grades K-12. She also participates in the Merrimack River Watershed Ecology program and collaborates with the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest to adapt their biogeochemical forest ecosystem research for the high school classroom.
Brita Hampton, Virginia
Brita Hampton was first trained in PLT in 2004 when she arranged a workshop for 25 teachers from six Catholic schools in her area. Since then, she has organized numerous environmental education (EE) trainings for teachers at Star of the Sea and other area schools.
In November of 2007, Brita organized a display of over two hundred pieces
of student artwork produced by conducting seven different PLT
activities. This artwork was on display for the 1,100 participants at
the 2007 North American Association for Environmental Education
Conference (NAAEE), also held in Virginia Beach. At the NAAEE
Conference, Brita and her students could be found in the exhibit hall
teaching PLT PreK-8 Guide’s Activity 51 “Make Your Own Paper.”
In 2006, Brita attended a week-long Forestry Camp sponsored by the Virginia Department of Forestry that included advanced training in PLT. Upon her return, she implemented several activities in her Summer Science Program and facilitated a workshop for other teachers to share what she learned. As a result, Brita and other Star of the Sea teachers regularly incorporate PLT into their classes and their students now spend more time learning outdoors.
Rob Marohn, Minnesota
Rob Marohn was first introduced to PLT while in college, and he now uses PLT activities with his students every week. Rob is a tireless advocate for the Bay View School Forest and is also its primary steward. He encourages all teachers to use the forest site and has helped provide training for fellow educators on how to teach in an outdoor setting to enhance classroom learning, including hosting a two-day PLT “How to Teach in Your School Forest” workshop.
Rob uses PLT in two programs he created for students: Forest Buddies,
in which 5th graders take younger students into the forest and conduct
PLT activities, and the after-school Bay View School Forest Club that
offers activities focusing on recreation, education, and conservation
with different grade levels each month.
Rob was appointed by the mayor to the City of Duluth Tree Commission. Rob has helped edit several curriculum guides used statewide, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Minnesota School Forest Handbook. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Education: Natural Science and Environmental Education degree at Hamline University.
Susan Ward, South Carolina
Susan Ward has been involved with PLT since the start of her teaching career in the late 1980s, when she helped field test many of the activities that became part of the revised PLT PreK-8 Guide. She uses PLT with her students in the outdoors—on field excursions, camping trips, and in Whittemore Park Middle School’s outdoor classrooms and gardens that she helped to create.
In 2005, Susan worked with the Horry Co. School District to get PLT activities incorporated into the curriculum as examples of how to include the natural environment within state standards and, as a result, increase student achievement scores. She trained all the district’s middle school science teachers in PLT. She has also conducted other PLT workshops, training 200+ educators in South Carolina, as well as Girl Scout leaders.
Susan helped correlate PLT materials to South Carolina’s curriculum standards and has continually provided leadership within the South Carolina PLT program. Susan presently serves on the South Carolina PLT Steering Committee as an educational representative, a position she has held for the last two years.
Cherie Wyatt, Colorado
Cherie Wyatt’s students consistently score above the state average on the science portion of their state assessment tests. Cherie infuses PLT and other environmental education materials into her teaching, often taking her students outside to reinforce classroom learning.
Cherie initiated a now-annual water festival for her students in which 8th graders help teach younger students about water resources. Cherie leads all her 8th grade students through five activities, after which they choose one to present to small groups of 5th, 6th, and 7th graders.
Four years ago, Cherie helped create a program for teachers called the High Plains TEN (Teaching Environmental-Science Naturally), which demonstrates how to make better use of local resources and area experts to improve student learning. Each year a different theme is chosen for a four-day, two-credit class that introduces teachers to speakers; gives them field experiences at nearby sites; and provides them with environmental education materials; and mentoring to help them integrate environmental education into their curriculum.
Cherie is an active member of the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Wildlife Federation, they Colorado Association of Science Teachers, and the Colorado Association of Biology Teachers.