North Dakota

  • Outstanding Educator
    Sara Forness

    Environmental Science and Field Biology Teacher West Fargo High School West Fargo, North Dakota
    Sara Forness, Environmental Science and Field Biology Teacher, West Fargo High School, West Fargo, North Dakota

    Sara Forness finds creative and effective ways to involve her students in the community, from conducting research to implementing service-learning projects. Her students helped the West Fargo Forestry Department educate the public about the emerald ash borer. They also planted trees as part of the city’s Arbor Day celebrations.

    Sara has taught at West Fargo for the past 18 years and continues to find new ways to engage students and exceed expectations. When the state required high school students to take a third lab science, Sara created a PLT-based Field Biology course that resulted in improved test scores. She often brings resource professionals into her classroom as guest speakers. As part of a project grant, students work alongside professionals to plant and harvest fruit trees, and observe their pollinators.

    Sara coaches students to participate in the state Envirothon, where they have won four championships. She also helped pilot-test PLT’s Focus on Forests secondary module. Her students monitor Cheyenne River water quality and present these data to local and state officials. Their related project, called “Fish Don’t Do Drugs,” won a Voyageur Award from the International Water Symposium and is the basis of an ongoing program of the West Fargo Police Department.

    “Sara is committed to sharing her love of science with her students. She continually searches for ways to make the student experience better in and out of the classroom.”

    – Ryan Stewart, Assistant Principal, West Fargo High School, West Fargo, North Dakota

    Sara was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2014.