Ina Ahern teaches chemistry, physics, and environmental science to grades 10-12 at Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Her passion for and commitment to the environment led her to make local issues a large part of her curriculum through an integrated, place-based, and hands-on approach.
A high school science teacher for 25 years, Ina often makes presentations to other educators about how to incorporate the local environment into teaching. In 2006, she was one of a pioneer group of teachers to participate in the year-long program “A Forest for Every Classroom,” co-sponsored in New Hampshire by PLT, the U.S. Forest Service, and Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. She has formally presented her experiences with the program to incoming teachers. She also used her “Forest for Every Classroom” experience to strengthen the field-study project her students conduct on their local watershed each year, building strong ties between the school, its community, and local natural resource professionals—a great reflection of how PLT materials can best be used.
Ina embodies the ethic of lifelong learning and works hard to foster this love of learning in her students. For her, the outdoors is an extension of the classroom, and studying the natural environment and the local community is a key strategy for bringing academics to life. Ina is committed to making environmental education a part of New Hampshire schools. Last year, she participated in a summer institute to sequence and correlate PLT activities (along with the environmental education materials from four other programs) to New Hampshire’s science frameworks for grades K-12. She also participates in the Merrimack River Watershed Ecology program and collaborates with the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest to adapt their biogeochemical forest ecosystem research for the high school classroom.
Ina was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2008.