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PLT 2021

May 18-19:
Growing Together

Join us for PLT’s E-summit May 18th and 19th. We will explore opportunities in light of positive change; brainstorm pathways to advance equity and inclusivity in environmental education; learn about new resources and innovative approaches to engaging and supporting facilitators; and hear from those that developed and are employing the newly released Forest Literacy Framework. During the E-summit we will recognize members of the network through the PLT Gold Star awards. We’ll also have plenty of time for networking and socializing. The E-Summit will be highly interactive – be ready to work hard, learn a lot, and have fun along the way.

Register | Download the Agenda 


TUESDAY MAY 18 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET


11:00-11:30 AM: Welcome and Opening Remarks 



  • Kathy Abusow, CEO & President, SFI
  • Jessica Kaknevicius, VP, Education, SFI


11:30 – 12:30 PM: Keynote

Change for Growth: Moving towards Equity and Inclusion Through Advancing Environmental Education


This interactive discussion explores how environmental education can serve as a powerful tool in advancing equity and inclusivity. Participants will develop an increase awareness of challenges faced by diverse communities in participating in environmental education recognize the impact environmental education and experiences can have on young learners.



  • Ada Takacs, Michigan PLT State Coordinator, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Felipe Benitez, Executive Director & Founder, Corazón Latino
  • Jasmine Brown, Forestry Doctoral Student at Michigan State University, SAF Diversity and Inclusion Working Group Leader


Facilitated by

Robert Raze, Ph.D., Professor, St. Petersburg College, College of Education, PLT Education Operating Committee Member



Following this session, participants will:

      • Invest in efforts to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented communities participating in PLT in their state.
      • Identify opportunities to build partnership and adapt their programs to better serve diverse communities and advance equity and inclusion.
      • Search for opportunities to develop new skills and techniques for conducting PLT with differently abled audiences.


12:30 – 1:00 PM: Break, Networking Room Open


Get familiar with the wonder.me platform with our quick start guide


1:00-2:15 PM: Concurrent Session Block 1


Concurrent Session A: Defining Our Work: Exploring the Forest Literacy Framework


The Forest Literacy Framework (FLF) is designed to increase people’s understanding of forests and empower them to take actions that benefit forests and people. The framework translates the complex language of forests, trees, forest practices, and sustainable forest management into concepts that everyone should know by the time they graduate from high school. 

During this session, participants will explore the genesis and key themes within the Forest Literacy Framework (FLF). This will include hearing from a contributing member of the FLF Advisory Panel and a case study of use from a PLT State Program. The session will end with an interactive facilitated discussion.



  • Jaclyn Stallard, Director, Curriculum, SFI
  • Danika Strecko, Senior Manager, Education, SFI
  • Susan Cox, Conservation Education Coordinator, USFS, Member of FLF Advisory Panel
  • Jacey Tosh, Texas PLT Coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service



Following this session, participants will:

      • Integrate the FLF into professional development activities through a deeper understanding of intersections between the framework and PLT materials.
      • Employ the FLF in outreach to superintendents, administrators, and related policy makers when considering the use of PLT in their programs.


Concurrent Session B: Engaging and Supporting Facilitators


To support the recruitment, retainment, and engagement of facilitators, Nation PLT is developing a Facilitator Development and Support Action Plan (FD&S). The action plan features the following premise:  A program-wide approach to network capacity building can support State Coordinators to recruit educators as facilitators, provide training that elevate the expertise of facilitators, create efficiencies by eliminating duplication of training, offer structures to keep volunteers engaged with PLT, while being flexible to accommodate various Coordinators’ capacity levels.

In this session, participants will learn about actions National PLT is taking to support FD&S, as well as hear about innovative approaches underway by PLT State Programs. The session will conclude with an interactive facilitated discussion intended to help target national efforts and identify areas where States can support one another.



  • Rocco Saracina, Senior Manager, PLT Network, SFI
  • Ana Leirner, Manager, Professional Development and Instructional Design, SFI
  • Jessica Ireland, Florida PLT Coordinator, University of Florida, PLT Education Operating Committee Member
  • Matt Schnabel, South Carolina PLT Coordinator



Following this session, participants will be able to:

    • Employ at least one new strategy in the next year to grow PLT Facilitator recruitment and engagement in their state.

Following this session, National PLT will be able to:

    • Identify at least two priority actions or projects to undertake by end of 2022 to enable PLT State Programs to better recruit, train, and engage facilitators.
    • Identify collaboration opportunities with State PLT programs related to PLT Facilitator recruitment and engagement.



2:15-3:15 PM: Network “Meet Up and Sharing” sessions:


Participants will self-select breakouts for problem solving. Group divisions may be based around geography, state program sponsor type (academic organization, association, government, NGO), or by topic areas (reimagining professional development, facilitator engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusions, etc.). 

Questions to consider:

1) What is working well for your state PLT Program? Or what really isn’t?

2)  What is an opportunity or obstacle that you anticipate in the year ahead? How will it be addressed?

3) In what ways, if any, might your state PLT program work with other PLT programs?


3:15-4:00 PM: PLT Gold Star Award Ceremony and Networking Happy Hour


Gold Star Awards: since 1995 this award recognizes outstanding PLT State and International Coordinators for their years of exemplary service and National PLT partners for their contributions to the mission and goals of the PLT program. Following the award ceremony, we will host a networking happy hour.


Page Hutchinson 

Rob Beadel 






WEDNESDAY MAY 19 11:00 AM – 3:30 PM ET


11:00-12:00 PM: PLT Town Hall (Coordinator Only Event)


This session will serve as the PLT Network Town Hall for the second quarter. As with past Town Halls, National PLT staff will provide programmatic updates, including information on new products, digital optimization, and efforts to build a green jobs and mentorship program. We will also share strategies for communicating the impact and value of PLT Programs. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.


12:00-1:15 PM: Concurrent Session Block 2


Concurrent Session A: Engaging Indigenous Communities: Case Studies in Collaborative Learning


During this session, participants will learn about work underway at the national and state level to effectively collaborate with Indigenous Communities in adapting and delivering environmental education programs. Following presentations, we will investigate these strategies and stories through interactive breakouts sessions



  • Rocco Saracina, Senior Manager, PLT Network, SFI
  • Paul Robitaille, Senior Director, Indigenous and Youth Relations, SFI
  • Laura Duffey, Minnesota PLT Coordinator



Following this session, participants will:

    • Seek new partnerships and strengthen existing relationships with Indigenous communities in the adaptation and delivery of PLT.
    • Build resources for engagement by employing processes and adaptations already under development by National PLT and multiple PLT State Programs.
    • Develop Indigenous engagement projects that are eligible for funding under the ee360+ Grant Program.



Concurrent Session B: It’s All in the Details: Tips & Tricks for Virtually Presenting High Quality Educator Professional Development


Join experienced PLT Coordinators from NY and PA to learn the steps, tools, & tips to create, design, and offer engaging and effective virtual educator professional development. This high energy session will demo techniques and strategies to get teachers excited about your virtual workshops.  Learn from our missteps, hear critical details to track, and try out tools to increase engagement.


  • Betsy Ukeritis, New York PLT Coordinator
  • Carissa Longo, Pennsylvania PLT Coordinator



Upon completion of the session, participants will:

    • Utilize at least three tech tools and three techniques to increase attendees’ engagement during virtual professional development events.
    • Apply strategies to increase the accessibility of virtual professional development events.



1:15 – 2:00 PM: Break, Networking Room Open


Get familiar with the wonder.me platform with our quick start guide


2:00-3:15 PM: Concurrent Session Block 3


Concurrent Session A: New Coordinator Meet Up: New Strategies, Basic skills, and Everything In between


They say you don’t know, what you don’t know. Sometimes you also don’t know, who you don’t know. This session will attempt to remedy both through presentations by long standing coordinators with an interest in mentorship, newer coordinators who have benefited from such relationships, and facilitated discussion.


  • Danielle Ardrey, Colorado PLT Co-Coordinator
  • Sue Wintering, Ohio PLT Coordinator



Upon completion of the session, participants will:

    • Identify essential topics and effective models to make the most of a PLT coordinator mentorship relationship.
    • Organize mentor and mentee relationships to facilitate knowledge transfer.

Following this session, National PLT will be able to:

    • Identify two near term actions that support coordinator development through unlocking the potential of mentorship.



Concurrent Session B: Reaching New Audiences: Preservice, Early Childhood, and Green Jobs  


Participants will explore methods for reaching new audiences in three important focus areas: preservice, green jobs, early childhood. The session will explore innovative models for working with these audiences through case studies from three PLT states. The session will conclude with time for questions and deeper discussion.  



  • Jack Hilgert, Nebraska PLT Co-Coordinator – Reaching Early Childhood Educators
  • Nicole Filizetti, Wisconsin PLT Coordinator – Promising Practices in Preservice Engagement
  • Ted Stevens, Texas PLT Co-Coordinator – Linking PLT to advancement in Green Careers


Upon completion of the session, participants will:

    • Develop and market PD events that correlate green jobs to STEM and other state learning requirements, and where applicable, incorporate field visits with green career professionals.
    • Leverage existing PLT resources when preparing educators for working with early childhood.
    • Design a system that empowers faculty and facilitators to prepare preservice educators for use of PLT in the classroom.



3:15-3:30 PM: Reflections and Closing Remarks