Staff & Leadership

Leadership 

The Education Operating Committee provides governance and leadership to Project Learning Tree. The committee’s responsibilities include:

  • Recommending goals and policies for PLT and other educational programs
  • Developing annual operating plans and budgets for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) Board of Directors’ approval
  • Assisting with fundraising activities
  • Participating in PLT’s programs and activities
  • Initiating strategic planning for PLT and other SFI education programs

 

PLT National Staff


Jess Kaknevicius
Vice President, Education
[email protected]

SFI / PLT Staff photo Jess Kaknevicius

Jess leads the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s work in education to advance environmental literacy, stewardship, and pathways to green careers. She is responsible for growing SFI’s award-winning environmental education program, Project Learning Tree® (PLT), and the expansion of programming through Project Learning Tree Canada. Prior to joining SFI, Jess was with Forests Ontario, where she developed and expanded their education and awareness programs. She has won several awards including the Canadian Forest Industries’ Top 10 under 40 award and the Canadian Institute of Forestry’s James M. Kitz Award. She is also the proud co-founder of Women in Wood, a networking group aimed at bringing together women who work in, with and for the woods. Jess holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto.

 

 

 

Kate Nagle
Director, Education & PLT Network

[email protected]  

Kate Nagle Director, Education & PLT NetworkKate plays a key role in strategic and programmatic operations at Project Learning Tree® (PLT). She advises on and implements strategies to deepen the relationships between the PLT network and SFI-certified organizations and SFI Implementation Committees. Kate also works directly with the PLT network of state and international partners to strengthen the implementation of PLT programs. She takes the lead in integrating team members and identifying training and support needs to ensure efficient and timely development of resources and program delivery. Prior to joining SFI, Kate was Program Director at the Chemical Educational Foundation where she engaged a national network of volunteers to reform their educational programs to focus on equity, student experience, and impact. She spent the first eight years of her career as a classroom teacher and professional development leader, working with students with special needs and students from historically underserved communities. Kate holds a Master of Education in secondary chemistry from Boston College and a Bachelor of Arts in conservation chemistry from Sarah Lawrence College. 

 

 

Jaclyn Stallard
Director, Curriculum

[email protected]

Jackie oversees the next generation of PLT’s PreK-12 environmental education materials, as well as other instructional materials and resources. She also directs strategic alliances that advance curriculum implementation with other environmental education and sustainability resource providers at the national level. Jackie presents and exhibits PLT’s curriculum and SFI programs at education and conservation conferences across the United States. Three curricula Jackie developed have won Teachers’ Choice Awards, and she regularly serves as an Envirothon Judge for national competitions. Jackie holds a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University in Massachusetts.

 

 

Jerri Taylor
Director, Diversity in Career Pathways

[email protected]

Jerri Taylor

Jerri leverages successful tools and resources to build support programs for diverse young people as they navigate green careers. She leads the career pathways programming, the Green Mentor program, and the Green Jobs employer training efforts. Jerri will also support the Chief Sustainability and Diversity Officer in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across all SFI pillars. She is an experienced K-12 professional school counselor and has dedicated her professional life to connecting youth with resources and opportunities. Jerri holds a Masters of Education and Human Development, with a concentration in school counseling from George Washington University, and a Bachelors in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Maryland.

 

 

Ana Leirner
Instructional Designer, Adult Learning
[email protected]

Ana designs and develops high-quality professional development materials and programming to prepare educators to integrate PLT environmental education materials into their teaching. Ana is focused on helping educators become comfortable teaching outdoors in urban, suburban, and rural environments. Ana creates engaging and hands-on online courses and supports the PLT network in delivering in-person professional development using best practices in educator professional development. Previously she worked as an instructional designer in various industries, designing online professional development courses for a diverse audience, including K-8 STEM teachers in Latin America. Ana holds an Ed.M. in Educational Media and Technology from Boston University, an MBA from Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil, and a B.A. in Psychology from Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.

 

 

Jennifer Byerly
Director, Communications 
[email protected]  

Jennifer supports both PLT and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s communications and marketing efforts, helping tell the story of PLT’s impact. As the former Digital Organizer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Washington, DC, she created campaigns with partner organizations to support shared missions, and created digital content and online advertising to support natural resources advocacy and fundraising. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.

 

 

Rocco Saracina
Senior Manager, PLT Network
[email protected]

Photo portrait of Rocco Saracina

Rocco manages all things related to the Project Learning Tree network and also collaborates with PLT state programs to develop strategies and partnerships that build the network. Rocco previously served as SFI’s Manager of Conservation Partnerships; before joining SFI in 2013, he conducted fire ecology field studies as a U.S. Forest Service technician, and stream geomorphology and habitat assessments with an environmental consulting firm. He holds a Master of Natural Resource in sustainability from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from California’s Humboldt State University. 

 

 

Danika Strecko
Senior Manager, Education
[email protected]

Danika helps lead the overall development of educational materials and programs and is helping to launch and implement the  Forest Literacy Framework, which translates the complex language of forests and sustainable forest management into accessible concepts for grades K-12. Danika’s wealth of education experience includes everything from working in the classroom to implementing online learning programs and providing strategic leadership in the education community. Prior to joining SFI, she was the manager of online learning and ocean literacy at the not-for-profit Ocean Wise and a board member of the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society. Danika is a B.C. Ministry of Education Certified Teacher and holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. 

 

 

Shuya Huang
Coordinator, Education Systems
[email protected]

Shuya supports green career pathways for diverse youth and helps form strong partnerships with forest and conservation sector employers. She enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors in her free time. Prior to joining PLT, Shuya worked as a biologist at a ecological consulting firm, a field researcher at a Chinese environmental NGO, and organized several events at the United Nations Conventions. Fluent in English and Mandarin, and practicing French, Shuya has a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Toronto. 

 

 

Lydia Kidane
Coordinator, Education Programs
[email protected]

Lydia is PLT’s main point of contact for customer inquiries, sales and service. She also helps manage PLT’s product inventory, fulfillment, and distribution. Lydia maintains PLT’s e-commerce operations and provides sales reporting. She has strong experience in sales, marketing, and working with databases. Lydia also has a passion for sustainability with a focus on urban forestry and education. She believes in preserving the best of nature for generations to come through community engagement and education. Prior to joining PLT, she held positions as an office manager and arborist assistant. Lydia has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Sustainability from the University of the District of Columbia.

 

 

Emma Roehrig
Intern, Education
[email protected]

Emma identifies potential funding and collaboration opportunities. She researches and summarizes government policy changes and new initiatives related to environmental education and highlights alignment with PLT programs and priorities. Emma also looks for scalable programs being done by PLT Coordinators in each state and drafts toolkit recommendations for supporting adopting programs by other states. Emma is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Resource Policy from George Washington University. She also holds a Bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Studies, from the University of Central Florida.

 


Meggan Sleep
Intern, Marketing & Communications
[email protected]

Meggan leverages SFI’s brand positioning across all communications channels and platforms and supports PLT’s communications and marketing efforts. She manages social media posts, researches and drafts blogs, creates performance reports, produces newsletters and e-blasts, and helps with project management. Prior to joining SFI, Meggan worked at Nature Canada where she supported their annual photo contest and digital fundraising on social media. She has a degree in public relations from Algonquin College.

 

 

PLT Internship Program

Learn more about opportunities to join PLT as an intern here