• Outstanding Educator
    Debbie Fluegel


    Debbie Fluegel, Illinois Field Coordinator & Program Manager, Trees Forever, Tremont, Illinois

    Through the nonprofit group Trees Forever, Debbie works with communities, landowners, and farmers to conduct hands-on planting projects to diversify and enhance community forests and to establish and restore native plant areas. She also trains volunteers who, in turn, work with adult and youth groups.

    She designs and facilitates PLT and other professional development opportunities for a wide range of audiences, including Salvation Army seasonal camp employees, Girl Scout leaders, and vocational agriculture teachers. She also helped the national PLT office in a pilot to evaluate various training formats.

    “In my 25 years of nature center administration, I have met few people who have both the technical and scientific knowledge of natural resources AND the ability to communicate, teach, and share that knowledge with others. Debbie does, and does this extremely well!”

    -Angela Funk, Sugar Grove Nature Center

    Debbie was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2017.

  • Outstanding Educator
    Robert Carter

    Robert Carter, Outdoor and Environmental Education Instructor, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois

    Robert (Bob) Carter first helped bring PLT to Illinois over 30 years ago by partnering with many organizations. A few years ago, the program needed a new home, and he worked tirelessly to reestablish it with the Environmental Education Association of Illinois, the current state sponsor. He has made PLT a cornerstone of his work with thousands of pre-service teachers, as well as guiding his graduate assistants in how to use PLT in their own work. He designed a pre-service facilitator team composed of professors from a variety of disciplines across Illinois campuses to embed PLT into their existing syllabi. In addition to serving on the Illinois PLT Steering Committee, he has also taken on leadership positions with the North American Association of Environmental Education and the National Association for Interpretation.

    “Dr. Carter willingly served as my mentor (and many graduate students before me) so that I could become a PLT facilitator. In this role, Bob challenged me through discussions of the PLT themes and activities, as well as how to share PLT with future educators so that they would use the materials.”

    – Rebecca Franzen, Assistant Professor of Environmental Education, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

    Bob was named National PLT Environmental Educator Honoree in 2014.