Ed Lewis is a Procurement Forester for Westrock, one of the world’s largest paper and packaging companies. Ed sources wood from sustainably managed forests in southeast Alabama, Florida, and Georgia to supply Westrock facilities with the raw materials needed for producing paper, cardboard and other packaging.
Ed is passionate about sustainability and throughout his 40-year career in forestry he has used Project Learning Tree in a variety of settings to teach others about trees, forests, and green careers, for example, at teacher professional development workshops, events at elementary schools and museums, logger trainings, and gardening programs. Every summer since 1986, Ed has helped lead Alabama’s Teacher Conservation Workshops. These in-depth, multi-day teachers’ tours of forests and wood product mills include training in PLT’s curriculum materials and time for lesson planning to help teachers incorporate teaching about trees, forests, conservation and sustainability into their classroom. He also shares information about careers and job opportunities in the forest industry.
Ed received National PLT’s Leadership in Education Award in 2019.
Nancy J. Loewenstein
Nancy Loewenstein is an Alabama Extension Specialist with the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. She promotes environmental education as a teacher, facilitator, and leader through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and many other groups. Nancy strongly believes in lifelong learning. She enjoys guiding others to be inquisitive and interested in science and nature.
Nancy helps plan and conduct PLT workshops for students, landowners, 4-H volunteers, and others throughout the state. By helping to host Alabama PLT’s summer teacher institute at Auburn, for example, she raised the institute’s credibility and exposed K-12 teachers to new career options for their students. An invasive species expert, Nancy integrates PLT’s activities related to invasive species in her outreach programs for natural resource educators and students.
“Nancy is a strong leader and instrumental in taking information developed by researchers and using it in such a manner that audiences walk away more informed, make better land management decisions, and understand complex concepts on conservation and the environment.”
Scott Enebak, Associate Dean Academic Affairs, Auburn University
Nancy was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2017 and received National PLT’s Leadership in Education Award in 2018.
Barbara Murphy, Gifted Specialist, Westlawn Middle School, Huntsville, Alabama
To Barbara Murphy, teaching about the environment is “a natural hook” to get kids excited about learning. Her goal is to develop and strengthen a program that provides outdoor experiences, connects her school with the community, and provides hands-on experience in addressing environmental issues. In addition to teaching environmental education and Spanish as electives, Barbara conducts enrichment classes in topics that range from gardening to rocketry to Italian. She involves children in Alabama Water Watch, CoCoRah (which teaches about precipitation), and, of course, PLT. In 2006, a GreenWorks! grant laid the foundation for an award-winning student-led project to create an outdoor classroom. Barbara, an avid hiker, outdoor photographer, and wildflower enthusiast, has encouraged many other teachers to incorporate the environment into their curriculum.
Barbara was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2010.
Sandy Watson, Second Grade Teacher, Lakewood Elementary School, Phenix City, Alabama
Although it is located inside city limits, Lakewood Elementary School’s campus consists of 88 wooded acres and a seasonal stream. Knowing that this environment would make an excellent classroom, Sandy Watson attended PLT and other environmental education workshops to obtain the tools, training, and resources she needed to take students outdoors. Over the past five years, Sandy has acquired sponsors, materials, and labor to create an outdoor classroom, a nature trail with two outdoor learning stations, a butterfly garden, a secret garden, and a vegetable garden. Teachers, parents, local businesses, and students have all gotten involved. Sandy invites natural resource professionals to visit her school to teach PLT and other environmental education lessons outdoors to provide students with a real-world understanding of the forest and its realm of benefits. In November 2006, the Alabama Wildlife Federation certified Lakewood as an Outdoor Classroom/Schoolyard Habitat (one of only 11 in Alabama).
Sandy was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2007.
Robin Nelson, Environmental Education Coordinator, Alabama Department of Education, Montgomery, Alabama
Robin Nelson has incorporated PLT into the Alabama Department of Education’s Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, which provides professional development, equipment and materials, and on-site support to 1,800 math and science teachers statewide. PLT is now required training for K-1 and seventh grade teachers. Robin’s career in education began with 12 years in the classroom as a science teacher for Enid Public Schools in Oklahoma. She moved to Alabama initially to develop a secondary curriculum, Water Sourcebook, for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Department of Education, Alabama Cooperative Extension, and Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education. Robin shares her passion for environmental education with others as a certified facilitator in PLT, GLOBE, Project WET, and Project WILD. She coordinates the various environmental education program activities conducted by the Alabama Forestry Association, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Alabama Power Company, Alabama’s Legacy program, and GLOBE. In addition, she regularly volunteers at numerous K-12 environmental fairs and programs.
Robin was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2006.