New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Announces Winners of Outdoor Classroom Grants

New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Announces Winners of Outdoor Classroom Grants

Concord, NH – May 19, 2016 – New Hampshire Project Learning Tree is pleased to announce the winners of the Outdoor Classroom Special Fund grants. Each winner will receive a $250 grant to develop or improve outdoor classrooms for their students. These recipients received their checks at the New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Annual Celebration on May 15, 2016.

  • Ledge Street School, Nashua, NH: adding benches to their outdoor classroom gazebo.
  • Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, Hanover, NH: Restoration of Connecticutt River Valley Ecology
  • Deerfield Community School, Deerfield, NH: Wildlife Garden

New Hampshire Project Learning Tree supports students and educators in projects that make a difference in helping children connect with nature.  The Outdoor Classroom Special Fund was started to honor the leadership of Esther Cowles, Executive Director 1997-2011. NH Project Learning Tree measures success in many ways.  For Esther, one of the best measures was the amount of time kids spent outdoors investigating and improving their local environment. NH Project Learning Tree boosts teachers’ skills and knowledge, builds their confidence about incorporating the natural world into their lessons and motivates them to change the way they teach their students.

Projects must:

  • Have a direct benefit for student learning about the environment.
  • Involve students in planning, implementation and use.
  • Include a plan for long-term sustainability.

Past awardees include:

  • Ledge Street School, Nashua, NH
  • Gilmanton School, Gilmanton Iron Works, NH
  • D.J. Bakie School, Kingston, NH
  • East Andover Village PreSchool, East Andover, NH

Andy Fast – 2016 Outstanding Educator of the Year

As described by UNH Cooperative Extension, “Andy is being recognized particularly for his work leading the “Walk in the Forest” program at schools in his service area. A “Walk in the Forest” brings students to a nearby forest—often on school grounds—to learn about forest ecosystems. The field days most often consist of four stations where students learn about tree identification, forest measurements, wildlife, and forest soils. He enlists colleagues and volunteers to help lead the stations and provides Project Learning Tree activities as the basis. “A Walk in the Forest” is a partnership of NH Project Learning Tree, the Granite State Division of the Society of American Foresters, and the N.H. Tree Farm Program.

Although he uses a prescribed formula for each field day, Andy is thoughtful about the approach. He thinks about the ages of each class of students and what will be most appropriate for their developmental and learning stages.

Andy has quietly been offering the “Walk in the Forest” program to schools in his service area. He has helped organize and lead 15 programs at 10 schools since 2008. He has worked with more than 1,000 students and more than 100 adults through these programs.

Lisa Saunders – 2015 National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree

  • Lisa Saunders, Fifth Grade Teacher, Bicentennial Elementary School, Nashua, New Hampshire

    Lisa Saunders was part of New Hampshire PLT’s Connecting Schools to People and Places program, which began in 2007 and helped develop an outdoor classroom, among many other initiatives. She is known for her innovative and effective strategies to teach students about water systems. She has been a strong advocate for PLT through her role on a district team to align curriculum with state standards, and several PLT activities are now a part of the K-5 district science curriculum. Lisa has also been part of a Math Science Partnership cohort to bring PLT and other environmental education programs into the classroom.

    “Lisa’s approach to science and environmental education is empowering. The lessons in her classroom extend to the community as a whole, changing attitudes and lifelong behaviors.”

    – Kyle Langille, Principal, Bicentennial Elementary School, Nashua, New Hampshire

    Lisa was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2015.

Ruth Smith – 2015 Outstanding Educator of the Year

New Hampshire Project Learning Tree is pleased to announce that Ruth Smith has been honored as the New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator of the Year!

“Never have I met an individual more dedicated to children and the environment.” begins the nomination from a NH teacher. “Ruth has touched the lives of thousands of NH children. She was able to combine wonder, natural history knowledge, sensory experiences, songs, expeditions, and community building activities. The children were so engaged!”

During her career, Ruth has served in many environmental education roles within New Hampshire. She is currently the Community Engagement Manager at NH Audubon, having previously worked for many years as Director of NH Audubon Nature Camps. In addition, Ruth has worked at Kearsarge Indian Museum, Shaker Village, and NH Envirothon, and NH Agriculture in the Classroom. She has been using Project Learning Tree activities, and serving as a NH Project Learning Tree facilitator, since the late 1980’s. “She is truly a masterful educator.”

New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Announces Winners of 2015 Outdoor Classroom Grants

New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Announces Winners of Outdoor Classroom Grants

Concord, NH – May 13, 2015 – New Hampshire Project Learning Tree is pleased to announce the four winners of the Outdoor Classroom Special Fund grants. Each winner will receive a $250 grant to develop or improve outdoor classrooms for their students. These recipients will receive their checks at the New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Annual Celebration on May 17, 2015.

  • Ledge Street School, Nashua, NH: The Ledge Street School will be adding a solar water pump and motion camera to their frog pond. The water pump will keep the pond water circulating, improving habitat for the tadpoles they raise there. The motion camera will enable students in all classrooms to watch the paid of Red Tail Hawks that visit and bath in the ponds. “I see smiles on their faces and wonderment in their eyes as they discover something new in the outdoor classroom.” said teacher Terri Ferullo. “I know other teachers are successful when students come up to me and say ‘Thank you for building the garden.’”
  • Gilmanton School, Gilmanton Iron Works, NH: The Gilmanton School will be improving the Thomas E. Brunelle Outdoor Education Center by rebuilding the trailhead sign, adding small signs to mark key natural features, and improving trail markers along the trail. “Upon completion, we will be offering touts of the trail and its special features to teachers this fall as art of our back-to-school days.” said project leaders Katie Bass and Erin Hollingsworth. “Students will be getting outside to help complete this project as well reap its benefits after it is finished for years to come.”
  • D.J. Bakie School, Kingston, NH: The Bakie School will be creating a pollinator garden within their Outdoor Classroom. The garden will provide students with opportunities to observe and explore science in their schoolyard. “With our outdoor classroom and existing garden, we are presented with an excellent space for authentic science learning.” said project leader Amanda Welvers. “These learning tasks will effectively integrate their science learning across subject areas.”
  • East Andover Village PreSchool, East Andover, NH: “The goal of this project is to complete the outdoor play space.” said project leader Alicia Williams. “We can create new interest areas to further our learning, enhance our curriculum, and invite the community to share in the success of the new play space.” This grant will add a shade structure, plants and shrubs, and a learning easel to the existing Outdoor Play Space, as well as

New Hampshire Project Learning Tree supports students and educators in projects that make a difference in helping children connect with nature.  The Outdoor Classroom Special Fund was started to honor the leadership of Esther Cowles, Executive Director of NHPLT from 1997-2011.

Lisa Saunders – 2014 Outstanding Educator of the Year

Lisa Saunders, fifth-grade teacher from Bicentennial School in Nashua has been named NH Project Learning Tree Educator of the Year.  She will receive the award at the NH Project Learning Tree Annual Celebration on May 8th.  The celebration featuring Mary Holland, naturalist-photographer and author of the book and blog Naturally Curious will take place at the Puritan Conference Center in Manchester.  Ms Holland is from Vermont and has an abiding passion for natural history and has taught in a variety of environmental programs.  Her writings appear regularly in newspapers and magazine throughout the region.   Tickets are $50.00 and can be purchased online at www.nhplt.org until May 1 or at the door.

 Lisa Saunders is receiving this award because she encourages students to connect to nature and their local environment.  She understands and models the important role educators play in connecting kids to nature.  As you walk into her classroom you will immediately see evidence of interactive environmental experiments in the form of water jugs, water samples and other inquiry-based activities. Her involvement with NH Project Learning Tree began over seven years ago while participating in a program called Connecting Schools to People and Place and continues with her involvement in a program on building vertical science literacy. Her love and commitment to science and the environment resonates in her personal life and makes her teaching genuine and realistic. Parents, students, and colleagues know Lisa as a dedicated, knowledgeable, and resourceful environmental educator.

NH Project Learning Tree provides educational opportunities to enhance youth understanding, appreciation and love for the natural world. For information on the Annual Celebration visit www.nhplt.org. NH Project Learning Tree, an independent 501(c)3 organization.

Noelle Dearborn – 2013 Outstanding Educator of the Year

The New Hampshire Project Learning Tree Board is pleased to present Noelle Dearborn is a half time kindergarten teacher at Effingham Elementary School as Outstanding Educator of the Year.  She is part of the team from the Governor Wentworth School District that are participating the Math Science Partnership with the New Hampshire Environment and Education Team making a three year commitment to help improve science education in the district.

Last summer she attended the week-long summer workshop affectionately know as “science camp”.  The district was looking to move away from the packaged science kits that they were using.  Two second grade teachers decided to improve a unit of instruction on life cycles. Noelle thought that she might be able to help her colleague who was assigned a multi-grade of second and third graders with the unit.

In the fall of 2012, Noelle was part of a small team at both Effingham Elementary School and at the district level who brought the use of science notebooks to those who were willing to use them.  This was a result of the MSP training. Noelle helped with getting the use of science notebooks by all the Effingham Elementary teachers during this past year.

As the year progressed, Noelle experimented with a new field investigation approach to the kindergarten, second grade and third grade science curriculum.  Each quarter she has taken on half of that multi-grade class to teach an integrated science program.  In the spring, Noelle presented the Governor Wentworth Regional School District School Board on the progression of science instruction with her students.

She developed a vertical approach to a study of trees that spanned kindergarten through third Grade.  She had successfully integrated science with literacy, art and math.  Noelle continues to work closely with her NHEET Team partner, Brittany McGuire as they shared activities for integration with one another across the district.  The two used many activities from Project Learning Tree.

Noelle’s enthusiasm for her work is infectious.  She has approached the task of working to improve science instruction at Effingham Elementary School with vigor and creativity.  Her principal and other colleagues are proud of her hard work.

Silverberg Receives NH Environmental Educators Non-formal Educator Award

On Wednesday April 10, Judy Silverberg PhD received the New Hampshire Environmental Educators Non-formal Educator of the Year.  Judy currently serves as the part-time NH Project Learning Tree Coordinator and is a long time environmental educator.  Before joining NH Project Learning Tree, she worked 27 years for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department of the supervisor of conservation education programs.

Throughout her years of service to the environmental education community she has been involved with many regional and national projects.She currently co-chairs the New Hampshire Environmental Literacy Plan Advisory Committee and on the collaborative leadership team of the NH Children and Nature Coalition.

Kyle Langille – 2012 National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree

Kyle Langille, Principal, Bicentennial Elementary School, Nashua, New Hampshire

Kyle Langille has led Bicentennial Elementary and its staff to integrate environmental education throughout the curriculum. Under her leadership, Bicentennial participated in a three-year partnership with New Hampshire PLT called “Connecting Schools to People and Place,” and she ensured that the effort would be sustained after the program officially ended in 2011. Various green initiatives are now a staple of school life, and Bicentennial was recognized as a PLT GreenSchool in 2011. Kyle ensures that environmental education is taught at every grade in ways that strengthen learning and adhere to state standards. In fact, the school’s science standardized test scores have improved as a direct result of her environmental education integration.

“Involvement in PLT has made a difference for teaching and learning at Bicentennial…Project Learning Tree would not have happened [at Bicentennial] without Kyle’s support, direction, and enthusiasm.”

– Althea Sheaff, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Nashua

Kyle was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2012.

Anjali Longan – 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year

On May 3rd, Anjali Longan graciously received the NH Project Learning Tree’s 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year Award.  Anjali is a NH Project Learning Tree (NHPLT) Early Childhood Facilitator and Preschool Teacher at Chapel School in Nashua.  She is pictured here with her two daughters, who were also in attendance to show their support.

As a NHPLT Facilitator, Anjali was instrumental in helping to launch Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) new early childhood workshops in the state.  She attended trainings, and spoke with local child care centers to gain support.  Her enthusiasm for connecting children to nature is infectious and Anjali herself helped to train over 100 early childhood educators and parents in the first year!

As a current Preschool Teacher, Anjali uses PLT’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood activity guide and CD on a daily basis in her classroom.  She goes on to say,

Whether I incorporate a simple activity, a song or a snippet of music, PLT is an integral part of my students’ day, everyday! Nature is a teacher’s best source of curriculum material. Nature is math, science, music, art, language arts, dramatic play, social studies etc.

DeeDee Thurber Director of Chapel School, can verify the “natural” impact that Anjali makes on her students and their families.  “She is child focused and creative beyond belief!   There is always something fun, magical or intriguing happening in her classroom.”

Anjali understands fully, the crucial role that PLT plays in providing learning opportunities that connect young children to nature.   NHPLT Outstanding Educators like Anjali, help teachers to create a sense of wonder about the natural world with their students.  PLT allows them to use these experiences as a way to instill in children, a foundation of love and stewardship for the natural world.  When asked why these experiences are so important, Anjali says,

As our lives become more “connected” through technology we become further disconnected with the simplicity and beauty of the natural world around us. Often times, the classroom experience is the ONLY experience that some children may have with nature. Nature provides a template for creativity, wonder, experimentation and exploration that leaves a lasting, lifelong impression.

Congratulations and thank you Anjali!  Anjali is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education/Special Education at Rivier College.  She also teaches yoga classes at Hollis Yoga.  She resides in Nashua with her husband and two beautiful daughters.