Washington, D.C. – Project Learning Tree® (PLT), the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation, announces that Lu Boren, a middle school science teacher at St. Columba School in Durango was named one of five 2012 National PLT Outstanding Educators. Boren will be honored at PLT’s 26th International Coordinators’ Conference, in Deadwood, South Dakota, May 14 to 17.
Every year PLT provides more than 30,000 educators with the tools and on-the-ground training they need to incorporate environmental education and service-learning into their curriculum. PLT activities use trees and forests as “windows” on the world to help teachers strengthen their teaching of core subjects, take their students outdoors to learn, and grow stewardship in the next generation. PLT’s Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, their exemplary use of PLT, and their exceptional teaching skills.
Boren teaches earth science, chemistry, physics, life science and other subjects to students in grades 6, 7, and 8. She uses environmental topics and PLT activities to engage her students in their learning and has energized the entire school community in new approaches to learning. Through her efforts, St. Columba became a PLT GreenSchool in 2011 and students and faculty throughout the school are involved in investigating and improving their school’s environmental footprint.
Boren also works closely with state and federal natural resource agencies to develop and present localized curriculum for science teachers in Colorado’s four corners region using PLT activities on topics such as forest management, fire ecology in native ecosystems, and watershed health.
“Lu understands that students learn best through field experiences and hands-on activities,” says Craig Goodell, a fire ecologist at the San Juan Public Lands Center in Durango who leads many field trips for students and teachers in the forests around Durango. “She has created outstanding learning opportunities for her students, as well as her peers to use back in their own schools, and I am impressed with her students’ ability to think critically and discuss complex ecological issues.”
Kevin Chick, St. Columba principal, concurs. “Through inquiry-based, hands-on environmental education, Lu is responsible for having a direct and lasting impact on students’ interest in science and the environment, and on our overall school culture,” he said. “Most of all, students develop a real-world understanding of how their decisions impact the environment in which they live.”
Among her other activities, Boren is Teacher Liaison for the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and serves on the Durango Nature Studies Advisory Board. She recently attended the National Green Schools Conference held in Denver to learn from other K-12 leaders and educators around the country about ‘greening’ schools as a way to save money, improve student health and achievement, and inspire students to take personal responsibility for their environment. In addition to attending the PLT International Coordinators’ Conference, Boren is invited to participate in the World Forestry Center’s International Educators’ Institute, July 8 to 14, in Portland, Oregon.