From our start in 1976, PLT has been on the leading edge of educational reform, while building on tried-and-true principles of learning and teaching.
Here are some milestones along the way –
PLT began in 1976 when natural resource managers and educators from the American Forest Institute (now the American Forest Foundation) and Western Regional Environmental Education Council (now the Council of Environmental Education) formed a partnership to develop an unbiased, educationally sound program for elementary and secondary students and their teachers.
The partners designed PLT to be shared through trained facilitators (educators, resource managers, or other interested people) who, in turn, train others in how to most effectively and efficiently use the curriculum and materials. The first workshops were held in 13 states that made up the Western Regional Environmental Education Council.
PLT went international in the 1980s. Canada was the second country to join the PLT community. Now, educators in Canada, the U.S. Territories, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, Slovakia, China, Finland, Brazil, Jordan, and the Philippines use PLT. Materials have been translated and adapted for use in these countries.
The PLT network got stronger in 1987, when the first International PLT Coordinator's Conference was held.
By the end of the 1980s, PLT had reached 49 states.
In 1990, PLT launched a major, multi-year revision of the curriculum. More than 300 people participated in regional writing workshops and revision sessions to revamp the elementary and secondary curriculum. Another 300 educators participated in the pilot test, field test and formal evaluation of the materials
In 1993, the new PreK-8 curriculum was released. Every year the guide is reprinted to meet demand and to provide opportunites for updates and revisions. The guide was then in its 11th edition.
In 1993, GreenWorks! was launched. This service-learning and community action program assists educators and students with developing action plans to improve their neighborhood environment through partnerships and grants.
By 1994, PLT had grown to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
To better address teachers and students at the secondary level, PLT created stand alone modules on such topics as forest ecology, solid waste, and risk. The first module appeared in 1995.
The 2000s – PLT continues to grow
In 2002, we published the PreK-8 Energy & Society kit. This curriculum uses hands-on activities, music, and dance to teach this critical topic. PLT's Pre K-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide underwent another major revision in late 2005 to address education reform and today's most pressing environmental issues. In 2006, we premiered the secondary module, Places We Live teaching students to explore current and future community environmental issues. In 2008, Forests of the World was introduced. Students investigate world forestry issues through activities in this module. Educators and students step back from biodiversity issues and specific species to examine broader concepts and larger connections through the Biodiversity module, released in 2009.
As we celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2006, we continuously evaluate and update our curriculum to ensure that it meets educator and student needs. Now we have a grassroots network of 3,000 active volunteers and state coordinators who have trained more than 500,000 educators. New workshops take place almost every week providing educators with the tools, training, and resources they need to bring the environment into their classrooms and their students into the environment.
Project Learning Tree - 30 Years of Learning and Growing!
Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood debuted in 2010. Wildly popular and a great resource for children ages 3-6, this resource was awarded Learning ® Magazine 2011 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award winner!
Hot off of the presses in 2011, is our newly revised Focus on Forests secondary module. This module’s activities provide an opportunity for hands-on study of forest resources while addressing concepts in biology, civics, ecology, economics, forest management, and other subject areas.