Florida Project Learning Tree 2022 Award Recipients

Story written by Elise Cassie.

Each year, Florida Project Learning Tree (FL PLT) recognizes a partner, facilitator, and educator who have made exceptional contributions to the program. This year, awardees include Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park, Partner of the Year; Tish Roland, Facilitator of the Year; and Irene “Trini” Johannesen, Educator of the Year. Awards were presented at the 2022 FL PLT Facilitator & PLT School Coordinator Retreat held at the University of Florida’s Austin Cary Forest, November 5, 2022.

Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park, Partner of the Year

Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park (or Friends) is a Citizen Support Organization formed to support the only State Park in Palm Beach County– John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. In 2001, Friends made a dedicated effort to support environmental education (EE), launching the EE Programs, free to all Palm Beach County students, 1st – 12th grade. Serving approximately 5,000 students and teachers each year, the education programs focus on experiential, hands-on EE, aligned to state standards and STEM connections.

Many lessons and most rain plan lessons incorporate PLT lessons and activities. Over the years Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park have had every Director of Education become a PLT facilitator. Friends believe that this is critical to the success of our EE program and consistently incorporates PLT resources into the learning that happens at MacArthur Beach State Park, since PLT aligns so perfectly with their EE theory. Hundreds of educators have taken part in Project Learning Tree trainings over the past 12 years, as the Friends offer at least one PLT training each year.

The Friends are proud to be a PLT center and will continue to always have a trained PLT facilitator on staff. As Veronica Frehm, the Executive Director of Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park said, “We truly love PLT and thank Florida and National PLT for all of their work putting together such a great program.”

Tish Roland, Facilitator of the Year

Tish Roland became a PLT Facilitator in May of 2015. Tish has used almost all PLT curriculum guides through educator trainings and by leading activities for high school youth using the secondary guides. Since 2015 Tish has led five in-person trainings and will lead a statewide FL 4-H PLT training in January 2023.

She has mentored three people, including Marie Morris, Collier County 4-H School Outreach Coordinator and Trisha Aldridge, County 4-H Outreach Coordinator. Tish has attended several FL PLT professional development Facilitator Learning Series for webinars in 2021-22 and both virtual FL PLT annual events in 2020 and 2021.

Tish is also a Project WILD facilitator, she has completed the Florida Master Naturalist Program, and is a Florida Land Steward. She works with several high school groups teaching environmental education, incorporating PLT secondary activities into her work with high school students. Tish was on the committee to review the Florida Master Naturalist curriculum for high school students. As Tish said, “We love teaching them. My two Outreach Coordinators are also facilitators. You could say that we focus on Environmental Education in our County.”


Irene “Trini” Johannesen, Educator of the Year

Trini Johannesen — with over 25 years of science teaching experience — was nominated by Janet Schnuass, Duval County K-5 Science Specialist, who said, “Trini was my mentor teacher as a first-year teacher. She was passionate about outdoor education, and she encouraged me to be a teacher who takes students outdoors for learning experiences…. Trini really helped spark my love of environmental education.”

Trini incorporates PLT activities regularly into her curriculum. She also helps other teachers incorporate PLT into their curriculum. Many of these activities are part of the PARKnership she helped create in 1999 with Fort White High School and Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Trini takes her students to Ichetucknee Springs State Park for experiences where they learn more about the park and water, enhancing learning for her students through outside experiences and activities. Trini is truly an inspiring teacher.

About PLT

Project Learning Tree® is the environmental education program of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and is sponsored in Florida by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatics Florida. PLT is one of 50 state programs, a part of Project Learning Tree’s network of more than 500,000 educators.

PLT is a versatile and interdisciplinary environmental education program with an award-winning curriculum that teaches youth about trees, forests, and the environment — which in turn develops students’ awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the environment; builds their skills and ability to make informed decisions; and encourages them to take personal responsibility for sustaining the environment and our quality of life that depends on it. To find out more about Florida Project Learning Tree, visit https://programs.ifas.ufl.edu/plt/ and for more information on Project Learning Tree, visit https://www.plt.org/.

Tish Roland receiving the “Facilitator of the Year” award. (Photo by Augustus Hoff)
Irene “Trini” Johannesen receiving the “Educator of the Year” award. (Photo by Augustus Hoff)
Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park receiving the “Partner of the Year” award. (Photo by Augustus Hoff)



Posted: November 17, 2022

Category: 4-H & Youth, Community Volunteers
Tags: Awards, Project Learning Tree

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