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 Foundation’s Board of Trustees’ approval
- Assisting with fundraising activities
- Participating in PLT’s programs and activities
- Initiating strategic planning for PLT and other AFF education programs
PLT National Staff
Senior Vice President
Kathy is Senior Vice President of Education for the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and Executive Director of Project Learning Tree (PLT). She is a past president and board member of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and has served on a variety of other advisory and education boards of organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the National Association of Conservation Districts. Kathy has received numerous awards for her work in environmental education, most notably the prestigious Walter E. Jeske Award for lifetime achievement in environmental education from NAAEE.
Director of Programs
Rachel strategically develops and directs PLT’s program and evaluation efforts. This work includes overseeing the capacity building initiatives for PLT’s state and international network, as well as PLT’s service-learning and professional development efforts. Prior to joining PLT, Rachel worked as an environmental educator at the Smithsonian Institution, Patuxent Research Refuge, and the Boyce Park Nature Center and Greenhouse. Rachel graduated with an M.S. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA.
Director of Communications
Vanessa develops and executes communications and marketing strategies to raise awareness of the importance of environmental education and learning outdoors, and publicizes the resources, training, and support available to teachers through a variety of digital, print, and traditional media. Previously Vanessa was Publicist at the National Geographic Society where she promoted documentary films, television specials, and classroom educational videos about the world’s culture, history, and natural world. Vanessa has a BS in Biology from Nottingham University in England.
Haley helps to manage PLT’s Model Program Initiative and state capacity building efforts, governance, service learning programs (GreenWorks! and GreenSchools), and professional development programs. Haley holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz.
Kaylin helps manage, update, and monitor PLT’s websites, social media, and email communications, and assists with other marketing efforts. In addition, she helps with the development, production, and fulfillment of PLT’s curriculum materials and supporting resources. Kaylin holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Davidson College in Davidson, NC.
James Riley McGirt
Manager of Education Programs
James manages PLT’s GreenSchools service-learning program that helps teachers, students, and schools adopt practices to make their campuses more green and incorporate environmental education into their teaching. James started his career as an education specialist for the District of Columbia’s Board of Education, then went into the classroom to teach 3rd-12th grades. Later he was Director of After School programs and Principal for both the middle school and the adult education program at the Friendship Edison Junior Academy in Washington, D.C.
Manager of Instructional Design and Technology
Jennifer oversees the design and development of high quality professional development experiences for educators and PLT’s network of state coordinators. These efforts include design, production management, and evaluation of our online professional development courses. Jennifer has over ten years of experience in designing technology-supported learning experiences in both not-for-profit and for-profit contexts. Jennifer earned a B.A. in psychology and a M.S.Ed. in adult education and human resource development from James Madison University, and a Ph.D. from George Mason University in education and learning technology design research.
Senior Manager of Curriculum and Education Resources
Jackie leads the strategic direction and creation of the next generation of PLT’s PreK-12 environmental education materials, as well as other instructional materials and resources. She also presents and exhibits PLT’s curriculum and programs at education conferences across the country. Jackie holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and an MS in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.