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
Chief Education Officer
Melina Gerosa Bellows serves as SFI’s Chief Education Officer. She is responsible for the strategy and implementation of SFI’s Education pillar. A member of the senior leadership team, her job is to lead and grow SFI’s award-winning environmental education program, Project Learning Tree® (PLT), by cultivating partnerships, and creating additional revenue streams. Prior to SFI, Melina worked at National Geographic for 17 years where she served as Chief Education Officer, overseeing the children’s businesses. She received a BA from Boston College.
Senior Director, Education Programs
Esther guides PLT’s organizational management, strategic direction, governance, and evaluation. She is also responsible for directing PLT’s program development, state network capacity building, and operations. Esther has worked as an educator, program designer, executive director, and evaluator in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years at the state and national levels. She is experienced in the design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental and place-based education curriculum and professional development programs, with a particular emphasis on changes in knowledge, skills, and behaviors of participating educators. She is also experienced in applying research and evaluation to strategic planning and organizational development. Her skills are deeply rooted in participatory involvement and building collaborative processes and partnerships. Esther holds a Masters of Education in Instruction and Curriculum from Plymouth State College and BA in Economics from the University of New Hampshire.
Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships
Sheden is responsible for building partnerships and securing funding to advance Project Learning Tree. Sheden spent the majority of her career in international development where she designed, managed, and implemented programs benefiting marginalized populations—with an emphasis on women and youth. After nearly a decade of working across the Middle East and North Africa, Sheden transitioned into the philanthropic sector and held various development positions in organizations, including the Council on Foundations. Sheden graduated with a degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from George Mason University.
Director, Communications and Marketing
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. She directs PLT branding, advertising, email marketing, public relations, network communications, website, social media, printing and production of publications. 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 B.S. in Biology from Nottingham University in England.
Director, Curriculum and Partnerships
Jackie oversees the next generation of PLT’s PreK-12 environmental education materials, as well as other instructional materials and resources. In addition, Jackie manages partnerships and strategic alliances with other environmental education and sustainability resource providers at the national level. She also presents and exhibits at education and conservation conferences across the country. Jackie holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and a M.S. in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
Manager, Professional Development and Instructional Design
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.
Rachel provides support to the entire PLT team, including curriculum, professional development, network, and communications. Rachel functions as the primary contact person for the organization providing customer service and technical support to PLT’s network of coordinators and educators. In addition, Rachel supports the development of PLT curriculum and professional development content. Rachel also presents and exhibits at education and conservation conferences across the country helping to deliver PLT’s high quality curriculum and professional development. Rachel holds a M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.
Communications and Marketing Coordinator
Jennifer supports both PLT and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s communications and marketing efforts. Jennifer focuses on digital communications and community-building through social media to help tell PLT and SFI’s stories in ways that engage new and existing audiences. Please feel free to email her and share your PLT story! As the former Digital Organizer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership in Washington, DC, she collaborated and created campaigns with partner organizations to support shared missions. She also identified, promoted, and created digital content and online advertising to support advocacy and fundraising. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.
PLT Internship Program
Learn more about opportunities to join PLT as an intern here.