Alice Garcia, Fourth Grade Teacher, Will Rogers Elementary School, Holly, Michigan
Alice Garcia uses PLT with her multi-ethnic fourth grade classroom at Will Rogers Elementary and has trained the entire staff at the school in PLT. She is known for providing quality environmental education teaching that meets the state’s core curriculum standards. She works with a nearby nature center to bring her students on day and overnight trips and partnered with the center to construct an outdoor trail and garden on the school campus. She also conducts activity-based, hands-on learning during the year-round school’s intersessions.
“Alice is a model of excellent teaching. Strength, organization, and a passion for learning are her commitments.”
– Mike Mansour, Hawk Woods Nature Center, Auburn Hills, Michigan
Alice was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2016.
Jennifer Edwards, Science Teacher, Ronald Brown Academy, Detroit, Michigan
Jennifer Edwards is the lead science teacher at her elementary school. Since participating in a program to bring environmental education into urban settings in 2009, she has worked hard to create an atmosphere in which students are able to find some aspect of science they love. From Day 1 in the school year, her students are exposed to PLT lessons, and she seeks out opportunities to take her students on field trips where children learn about forest ecosystems, help remove invasive species, and explore green careers. She also works with other teachers at her school and throughout the district to help bring environmental education into more classrooms.
“She has a quiet leadership style, which allows her to connect with lots of people. She shares her information in a way that makes it accessible and not intimidating, and inspires others to get involved.”
– Alycia Merriweather, Executive Director, Office of Science Education, Detroit Public Schools, Michigan
Jennifer was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2015.
Kathleen Yeloushan, Education Coordinator, Renaissance High School, Clarkston, Michigan
A former school principal in Ohio, Kathleen Yeloushan retired to Michigan and joined the Farm & Garden Club. Over the course of several years, she convinced garden club members (and eventually school district administrators) to provide PLT training for all K-12 science teachers in the area. She also works with Clarkston Renaissance High School and took the lead to bring PLT GreenSchools programming to this at-risk student population. She set up training for teachers and students, integrated PLT across the curriculum, and wrote grants to support action plans to enhance student learning. Kathleen’s students have instituted recycling and composting programs, a garden, solar panels, a bioswale, and an electronic charging station. The school is a PLT GreenSchool and a 2013 GreenWorks! grant recipient. In 2014, the school was recognized as a Green Ribbon School by the Department of Education.
“After deciding that we wanted to teach our curriculum through the lens of environmental, global citizens with an eye on the future, Kathy took the ideas and made it happen.”
– Billie I. Pambid, Director, Clarkston Renaissance High School, Clarkston, Michigan
Kathleen was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2014.
Maureen Stine is the Michigan GreenSchools program liaison for Cheboygan, Otsego, and Presque Isle counties; co-chair of the Getting Kids Outdoors Northern Michigan Coalition advisory committee; and a member of the Leadership Team for the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. She also volunteers on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Earth Team, which provides environmental education to children K-12 and trains teachers to use environmental education with their students.
Maureen uses PLT activities and service-learning opportunities to provide meaningful experiences for students of all ages, with an emphasis on trees, soils, and water quality issues. She recently guided 125 students on the Cheboygan River to test temperature and pH, gather macroinvertebrates, and remove monofilament fishing line from the river banks. The students are now working on a public awareness campaign and installing trash receptacles and interpretive signage to educate others.
Maureen began to establish close working relationships with school districts in the Northern Lower Peninsula when she moved to Michigan 10 years ago. She conducts PLT workshops that help teachers easily and effectively teach about the environment, often in outdoor, hands-on situations. She also works with the Junior Master Gardener program, 4-H, several Conservation Districts’ Master Naturalist Programs, the Michigan Alliance of Environmental and Outdoor Education, and the National Association for Interpretation. She was invited to join the Michigan STEM Partnership, which is helping to build the scientific, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills of students throughout the state and prepare them for college and science careers.
“Maureen goes above and beyond to help Project Learning Tree in any way she can. She helps make connections across the state, facilitates workshops, presents at state and national conferences, and is also a mentor with educators in her area.”
– Ada Takacs, Michigan PLT State Coordinator
Maureen was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2013.
Tracy McMullen, Environmental Education Coordinator, DeVries Nature Conservancy, Owosso, Michigan
Tracy McMullen works with students of all ages, including adult learners, at DeVries Nature Conservancy. When it first opened, DeVries had around 100 educational visitors a year; it now has more than 3,000 visitors, largely due to the high-quality programs Tracy offers. Tracy has developed a student intern program at DeVries that offers PLT training, as well as training dozens of teachers each year in PLT. Tracy also attended and now teaches at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Summer Academy, a one-week natural resources management immersion program. She serves on the board of the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education and often provides a link between PLT and many other organizations.
“Simply put, Tracy is a non-traditional education rock star. She has a great teaching style and can easily adapt difficult ecological concepts for her audience, whether they are visiting school children or professional educators.”
– Kevin Frailey, Education Services manager, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Tracy was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2012.
Joan Chadde, Education Program Coordinator, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan
Joan Chadde has served on the board of the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education since 2006, including a term as president in 2008-2009. In addition, she has taught a course called Communicating Science at Michigan Tech every semester since 1998. As part of the course, university students organize, plan, and conduct Family Forest Nights at 19 elementary schools in five counties. Joan initiated Outdoor Science Investigations field trips for grades 1 to 6, which now involve 3,000 students annually. Joan is also the co-coordinator of the Environmental Education (EE) & Urban Schools Teacher Training Initiative, which teaches urban educators how to incorporate the surrounding environment into their lessons. She regularly conducts PLT workshops and summer institutes.
Joan was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2011.
Melissa Eldridge, District Manager, Ionia Conservation District, Ionia, Michigan
Melissa Eldridge provides natural resource education for pre-K through adults. One of her main projects has been to involve her local community in restoring the Boyce Elementary Nature Trail, evolving it into a learning and recreational resource for the school district. She has incorporated a field trip to the trail for all elementary schools and teaches teachers how to use the trail in their own lessons. She guided Ionia’s science curriculum director for grades 3-5 in PLT activities, sponsoring several in-service training workshops for teachers at all levels. Thanks to her efforts revising the workshops offered, teachers can now earn college credits for participation. She promotes PLT at conferences and often leads workshops throughout the state. She is known as a “go-to” person on whom Michigan PLT can always rely.
Melissa was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2010.
Michael Mansour, Naturalist and Environmental Educator, Hawk Woods Nature Center, Auburn Hills, Michigan
After a long and successful career as a science teacher, Michael (Mike) Mansour still maintains his zeal for the outdoors and environmental education as a naturalist at Hawk Woods Nature Center. He directs a number of programs for children and adults at the city-owned facility, often drawing on PLT. Mike began his professional career as a fourth grade teacher in 1969. A year later, he organized the first Earth Day for Pontiac schools and developed creative, effective programs both inside and outside the classroom. He went on to teach middle school for more than 35 years. During his many years of teaching, he has found PLT to be an important resource. Mike also introduces PLT to students at Wayne State University, where he teaches an Environmental Science class, and has mentored both students and teachers in their use of PLT.
Mike was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2009.