Jim Chandler has been involved in environmental education for 30 years and has been a PLT facilitator since 1988. He is an innovator of a wide range of ongoing formal and non-formal education programs that use PLT materials to increase students’ understanding of the forest environment and resource conservation. In his current position as a consulting teacher in science with the Auburn School Department, he administers the K-8 science curriculum and arranges professional development for 11 schools in Auburn, Maine. PLT is incorporated throughout the curriculum and most of the teachers have been trained in PLT.
He is also Director of the Auburn Land Lab, an environmental center serving schools in central Maine that uses the environment as a context for learning for more than 3,500 visiting K-12 students each year and for coaching Canon Envirothon teams. Jim brought the Envirothon program (North America’s largest high school environmental education competition) into Maine in 1989. Today, 80 teams, representing one third of the state’s high schools, participate each year. Jim served as Secretary of Canon Envirothon from 1996 to 2002, helping to expand the program to international prominence, as well as developing educational standards and judging rubrics.
For 10 years beginning in 1987, Jim started a variety of educational and conservation programs for the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District that are ongoing to this day—for example, Kids for Trees (a Christmas tree-growing project), a Forestry Demonstration Trail based on the PLT model at the Maine Conservation School, and an annual Agriculture Education Day at the Oxford County Fair. In the late 1990s, Jim taught seventh grade science at Oxford Hills Middle School.
Jim is an active board member and two-term past president of the Maine Environmental Education Association. In this role, he has helped develop state-wide workshops showing how environmental education can be used to achieve Maine Learning Results, the state’s education standards. Now he is coordinating an effort to involve the environmental education community in the mandated Maine Learning Results Review.
Jim was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2007.