Nancy J. Loewenstein, Extension Specialist, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn, Alabama
Nancy designs and conducts Extension programs throughout Alabama. She is a long-time PLT supporter and is now a trained PLT facilitator and member of the state steering committee. She helped move Alabama PLT’s summer teacher institute to the Auburn campus, raising its credibility and exposing teachers to career options in the natural resources for their students. She also provides an avenue for Auburn undergraduates to receive PLT training. She is active in the Alabama Invasive Plant Council, Environmental Education in Alabama, and many other organizations.
“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.
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.