UF-based statewide environmental education program launches memorial fund

Tom Nordlie (352) 392-0400

Martha Monroe mcmonroe@ufl.edu, 352-846-0878
Jenny Seitz jacohen@ufl.edu, 352-846-2329

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians have a new way to honor friends and loved ones for their commitment to conservation, by supporting a statewide nonprofit organization that educates youth about the environment.

Florida Project Learning Tree, headquartered at the University of Florida, recently launched the Memorial and Recognition Giving Program, a charitable fund that supports the organization’s wide array of activities aimed at children from pre-K through grade 12.

“This program will enable people who care about our forest resources and our future to help support a program that is dedicated to quality environmental education,” said Martha Monroe, faculty adviser to Florida PLT and an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The program helps provide books, equipment and training workshops for educators who wish to use Florida PLT material with students, Monroe said. Contributions are tax-deductible and will be recognized with acknowledgement and thank-you cards.

The organization offers age-specific lesson plans that use forestry, wildlife and natural resources topics to teach science, mathematics, language arts and other subjects, she said. Its materials correlate to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards, criteria that identify knowledge and skills public school students should possess at various grade levels.

Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, Florida PLT is available to public and private schoolteachers, as well as home-school educators, natural resource professionals, extension agents, summer camp personnel and others who work with youth, said Jenny Seitz, statewide coordinator for the organization. Its most important offerings are teaching guides, some designed for children from pre-K to grade 8, others for high-school students.

“PLT’s focus is to bring the material to teachers by hosting teacher professional development workshops throughout the state, throughout the year,” Seitz said. “At workshops, activities are modeled and teachers can ask questions.”

Training is provided by the organization’s facilitators, volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including teachers, foresters, nature center staff members and college professors, she said. More than 12,000 Florida teachers have been trained by Florida PLT since its launch in 1977.

Seitz said volunteers also conduct outreach activities where they work directly with youth audiences; examples include classroom presentations, 4-H programs and events at community celebrations such as Earth Day. In 2005, outreach activities reached more than 4,700 youth.

Florida PLT is coordinated by UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, in partnership with 4-H, the Florida Division of Forestry and the Florida Forestry Association. It is part of National PLT, which is active in all 50 U.S. states and a growing number of countries around the world. Founded in 1976, National PLT is a program of the American Forest Foundation.

For more information about the Florida PLT Memorial and Recognition Giving Program, or to make a contribution, contact Jenny Seitz at 352-846-2329, jacohen@ufl.edu or P.O. Box 110831, Gainesville, FL 32611. For information on Florida PLT, including training opportunities for educators, visit the organization’s Web site, http://sfrc.ufl.edu/plt.



Posted: October 31, 2006

Category: UF/IFAS

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