A North Carolina resident who teaches in South Carolina, Denise Trufan is active in environmental education in both states. She is a certified Environmental Educator in North Carolina, where she volunteers at state parks and other facilities. In South Carolina, in addition to her work at Indian Land Elementary School, she often volunteers at workshops and conferences promoting PLT to other educators.
As Indian Land’s science lab facilitator, Denise helps teachers and students in grades K through 5 to enhance learning with hands-on activities, many based on PLT. She is planning PLT workshops for the 85 teachers at Indian Land Elementary, bringing the school one step closer to becoming a “South Carolina PLT Certified School,” which means PLT will be used to strengthen learning throughout the entire curriculum. She has also organized many PLT trainings for teachers at other schools.
Denise has used PLT activities to increase the school’s performance on science standardized tests. For example, she created a Discovery Box containing nature items, such as acorns and bark, that students use to conduct both quantitative and qualitative analysis. They also go outdoors as often as possible to learn about tree characteristics and plant growth. Last year, Denise launched a recycling program that both saved the school thousands of dollars and enthusiastically involved students in all grades. In one year, they recycled more than two tons of paper, more then 4,000 plastic bottles, and thousands of aluminum cans. Her after-school club, the Ecowarriors, performs environmental plays for the school and community, researches environmental issues, and designs gardens that have been certified as Backyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
“Denise’s dedication to her students, love for environmental education, and infusion of PLT materials into her programs make her the epitome of what this award represents.”
– Jerry Shrum, South Carolina PLT State Coordinator
Denise was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2009.