Susan Linscott, High School Science Teacher at Lee Academy
Susan believes in the practice of place-based, community-based, and inquiry-based learning. She provides her students with engaging experiences in local forests and requires that they design and deliver forestry lessons to local elementary school students. Susan takes her students beyond the academy’s walls to explore and assess community projects involving town culverts that impact water quality, fish habitat, forest health, and the local economy. While attending a Maine summer teachers’ tour, Susan learned about the intricacies of culverts from forest managers and engineers. She went on to write a stream crossings lesson and shared this STEM unit with the PLT network. When a spruce budworm outbreak was observed in nearby Canada, Susan designed and shared a unit of study on this critical issue.
Read more about how she uses community-based investigations to give students opportunities to make real world decisions, meet community needs, and explore what is happening in their own neighborhoods as the foundation for learning cross-cutting concepts.
Susan was named a National PLT Leadership in Education Award honoree in 2018.
Kevin Doran, Natural Science Educator, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Augusta, Maine
Kevin Doran joined the Maine Forest Service as natural science educator in 1999. He has used PLT as a cornerstone of his programs with children throughout the state. He has been involved with Maine’s Forest Inventory Growth program, co-authored the Environmental Literacy Plan, and actively supported Envirothon. He has been instrumental in training more than 90% of the Maine Forest Service’s field and office staff in PLT, helping them to increase their outreach to others in their communities. Kevin leads annual PLT workshops for pre-service teachers at five colleges in the state.
“What makes Kevin exceptional is his drive to gain a deep understanding of how people learn to improve how he and others perform as educators.”
– Keith Kanoti, Forest Manager, University of Maine, Augusta, Maine
Kevin was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2016.
Donald Sprangers, Science Teacher, Washington Academy, East Machias, Maine
Donald (Don) Sprangers teaches biology, chemistry, and other science courses at Washington Academy and is also an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University and the University of Maine, Machias. Since coming to Washington Academy in 1992, his classes have been marked by hands-on field work and service learning. He has motivated many of his colleagues to integrate PLT into their teaching. For the past five years, he has hosted PLT workshops for pre-service teachers and uses PLT GreenWorks! as an example of how to develop service-learning projects. He is the founding force behind Maine’s Forest Inventory Growth project, which is based on PLT.
“Many teachers come and go on campus impacting student lives. Few transform an institution. Through 25 years of tireless support of environmental education, Don Sprangers has connected the lives of Washington County students with our unique coastal community and the worldwide environmental agenda.”
– Judson McBrine, Head of School, Washington Academy, East Machias, Maine
Don was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2015.
Throughout her teaching career, Cameron Kay Sutton has broadened her students’ understanding of the environment by incorporating PLT’s hands-on activities into her curriculum. Her love of environmental science and understanding of best practices in teaching have led Cameron to create K-6 science curriculum units that are aligned to Maine education standards and full of active, engaging outdoor learning.
In addition, Cameron’s programs for gifted and talented high school students in science and math include studies of Maine’s energy, water conservation, and forest management and have inspired many students to pursue environmental or math and science careers. She also coached a local high school team that won the International Envirothon Competition’s regional championship in 2008.
A PLT workshop facilitator since 2002, Cameron coordinates numerous trainings for school district staff and faculty to show them the many ways they can incorporate environmental education activities and learning in the outdoors into their science, math, and language arts curricula. An upcoming training for an EPA New England regional grant will include modifications for special education and diverse students. Cameron has served on the boards of the Maine Environmental Education Association and the Maine PLT Steering Committee to enrich and expand statewide programs, including planning and presenting at conferences.
“Rarely have I encountered an educator so versatile and flexible, able to work with such a wide range of ages, and masterful at adapting the teaching of science to meet students where they are.”
– Shelly Mogul, Director of Curriculum, City of Auburn Department of Education, Maine
Cameron was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2013.
Rob Taylor uses the outdoors in creative ways to increase students’ understanding of science and engage them in opportunities for leadership in their community. He serves as Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Science Teacher for the elementary, middle, and high schools in Jay, Maine.
Using grants that he obtained for Jay Middle School, including a PLT GreenWorks! grant, he involved students in creating a greenhouse, powered by solar energy, to grow food for the school cafeteria. They are now constructing a wind turbine and creating a composting program.
Earlier in his career, Rob introduced a six-week outdoor segment into his science curriculum. Since then, he has used PLT to engage students in learning about the world around them. For many years, he has involved students in improving the Jay Recreation Area, a 200-acre municipal property next to the school. The students are now taking the lead in planning a well-managed timber harvest, which will bring in more than $150,000 to the Town of Jay to support recreation.
Rob is also a long-time advisor for Jay’s Envirothon teams. The teams are top competitors and were Maine’s state champions in 2009 and 2010, representing the state at the Canon International Envirothon.
“Through his work with the Gifted and Talented program, middle school students are challenged as never before.”
– Scott Albert, Jay Middle School Principal
Rob was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2011.
Olivia Griset became a classroom teacher, in part, to help children to learn about the environment. She studied at Utah State University and moved to Maine in 2003 to work for the Maine Audubon Society. She now teaches biology, oceanography, and field ecology to grades 10 through 12 at Lisbon High School in Lisbon Falls.
Olivia continually looks for hands-on, relevant ways to teach her students about the environment. Through a partnership with a local sawmill and the Maine Forest Service, she created a forestry field program for her students. Partners of this initiative are together designing “From Roots to Retail,” an adult education program to show teachers how they can best explain sustainable forest management to their students.
Olivia also implements Maine’s Forestry Inventory Growth (FIG) program, based on PLT’s Forest Ecology module. This program uses an online data system to allow students in different schools to compare data and monitor changes over time. With Olivia’s leadership, this hands-on investigation tool has lead to practical learning, directly impacting many student lives.
Her passion for the outdoors is legendary. As one student says, “Almost every weekend she goes on a spectacular science journey. Whether a simple mountain biking trip or a crazy storm surfing adventure, she brings back hilarious yet educational stories that force the class to enjoy…the science field.” As a PLT facilitator and consulting teacher to a grant awarded to PLT and the University of Maine, Olivia trains other teachers to use PLT in their education work and stresses the importance of getting students outside.
“Olivia’s love of teaching is evident the second you walk into her classroom. She commands the attention of every one of her students and demands that they work toward and achieve their full academic potential.”
– Kenneth Halsey, Principal, Lisbon High School, Lisbon Falls, Maine
Olivia was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2009.
Jim Chandler has been involved in environmental education for 30 years and has been a PLT facilitator since 1988. He is an innovator of a wide range of ongoing formal and non-formal education programs that use PLT materials to increase students’ understanding of the forest environment and resource conservation. In his current position as a consulting teacher in science with the Auburn School Department, he administers the K-8 science curriculum and arranges professional development for 11 schools in Auburn, Maine. PLT is incorporated throughout the curriculum and most of the teachers have been trained in PLT.
He is also Director of the Auburn Land Lab, an environmental center serving schools in central Maine that uses the environment as a context for learning for more than 3,500 visiting K-12 students each year and for coaching Canon Envirothon teams. Jim brought the Envirothon program (North America’s largest high school environmental education competition) into Maine in 1989. Today, 80 teams, representing one third of the state’s high schools, participate each year. Jim served as Secretary of Canon Envirothon from 1996 to 2002, helping to expand the program to international prominence, as well as developing educational standards and judging rubrics.
For 10 years beginning in 1987, Jim started a variety of educational and conservation programs for the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District that are ongoing to this day—for example, Kids for Trees (a Christmas tree-growing project), a Forestry Demonstration Trail based on the PLT model at the Maine Conservation School, and an annual Agriculture Education Day at the Oxford County Fair. In the late 1990s, Jim taught seventh grade science at Oxford Hills Middle School.
Jim is an active board member and two-term past president of the Maine Environmental Education Association. In this role, he has helped develop state-wide workshops showing how environmental education can be used to achieve Maine Learning Results, the state’s education standards. Now he is coordinating an effort to involve the environmental education community in the mandated Maine Learning Results Review.
Jim was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2007.