Growing up on a farm in Iowa led Kurtis Koll to develop a deep appreciation for nature and the importance of connecting with it. He is now a professor of physical sciences at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. While teaching a full courseload, Kurtis created a series of environmental education short courses for pre-service science teachers that he opens to other students as well. He takes students to state and national parks and wildlife management areas to investigate local environmental issues and blends this experience with discussions about local, national, and global current events. His courses are always full because word has spread about his enthusiasm and creativity as a teacher.
Kurtis also conducts workshops for teachers from local school districts and uses PLT’s hands-on activities with scout groups, home-schoolers, and adults at public outreach events. He directs two science camps each year for K-9 students to conduct science investigations as they explore their community.
Kurtis also conducts “natural experience” programs with youth in the Comanche Nation Youth Program and the Wichita-Caddo Tribal Youth Program. “Everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student. You never know the impact you can have,” says Kurtis.
“Kurtis has a deep understanding of the importance of teaching and experiencing nature, and he uses PLT’s hands-on, inquiry-based lessons as a springboard to engage adults and children alike in the outdoors, develop their critical thinking, and get them excited about science.”
– Christina Stallings Roberson, Oklahoma PLT State Coordinator
Kurtis was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2010.