Gail Kovach, Sixth and Seventh Grade Teacher, Legacy Christian School, Sparks, Nevada
Gail Kovach does whatever she can to help her students attend a week-long environmental education camp. In addition to working with her own students, she helps her teacher colleagues integrate PLT into their lessons. For example, she worked with first and second grade teachers to start a school garden project, and with a math teacher to use PLT lessons to teach measurement in the garden. She finds ways to get students outdoors using inquiry-based activities. Gail rarely passes up an educational opportunity that focuses on the natural world. She also pursues continuing education provided by PLT and other environmental education programs to develop her teaching skills and expand her knowledge base.
“Our students are engaged in our world in a way that would not happen without the work of Gail Kovach and the many projects, experiments, and field trips she introduces to them.”
– David Ryan, Principal, Legacy Christian School
Gail was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2013.
Karen Mack, Co-Director, Aleph Academy, and University of Nevada Extension Instructor, Reno, Nevada
Karen Mack wears two hats that support environmental education and PLT, especially for the preschool audience. She became a PLT facilitator in 2010, and Aleph Academy was one of the first schools in the state to adopt PLT’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood program. At Aleph, children spend large blocks of time outside in the school’s natural playscape, and Karen has involved parents and community members in adding features to the area that will enhance student learning. As an instructor with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, she has trained thousands of early childhood educators since 2004. Her emphasis on increasing children’s connections with nature has led to further involvement with PLT. In 2011, she received the Nevada PLT Outstanding Educator Award.
“Karen Mack’s commitment to environmental education is exemplary…To her, it is all about using learning to instill a love for nature in children.”
– Sarah Cunin, Educational Director, Aleph Academy
Karen was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2012.
Jennifer Piccinini, Fourth and Fifth Grade Teacher, Coral Academy of Science Charter School, Reno, Nevada
Jennifer Piccinini’s first introduction to environmental education in the fall of 2007 whetted her appetite for more. In 2009, she worked with Seeds of Change (producers of organically grown vegetable, flower, herb, and cover crop seeds) to start a school garden, and also helped initiate recycling and composting programs. She became a PLT facilitator and now regularly hosts PLT workshops at her own school, Coral Academy of Science Charter School, and neighboring schools. She was first an attendee and is now a planner and presenter for the PLT/Sierra Nevada Journeys’ annual LIFE conference, even getting her entire family involved. She is considered a dynamic and powerful communicator who possesses the gift of making intricate subjects understandable.
Jennifer was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2011.
Krissy Varness, Sixth Grade Math and Science Teacher, DePoali Middle School, Reno, Nevada
Every few weeks, Krissy Varness poses an environmental problem to her students and asks them to debate possible solutions to the issue, making the issues come alive for her students. As a teacher in a new “green” school building, Krissy has taken the lead in introducing students to the environment-related features on campus. She co-sponsors the school’s Green Club and has incorporated PLT’s Energy & Society into her curriculum. At a previous school where Krissy taught seventh grade, she brought her students outdoors to learn math concepts. She has been instrumental in supporting the growth of PLT in Nevada. She is a member of the Advisory Board and the 2009 Standards Correlation Committee. Since Krissy was introduced to PLT in 2009, much of Nevada PLT’s rejuvenated growth is thanks to her advocacy and energy.
Krissy was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2010.