Florida Project Learning Tree program sees growth over past year

Project Learning Tree logo

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Project Learning Tree program had a successful year in 2012 with more participation and activities, according to recently released figures.

The program, which is housed in the University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation, is a partnership between UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Florida 4-H, the Florida Forest Service and the Florida Forest Association.

It offers environmental education curricula and tools that can be integrated into lesson plans for all grades and subject areas. Its parent organization is the American Forest Foundation.

The figures show the program had a 1,400 percent increase in volunteer hours from 3,100 hours donated in 2011 to 46,500 in 2012.

There was a nearly 9 percent increase in number of educators trained, from 847 in 2011 to 921 in 2012.

Youth and adult participation rose from 10,084 people in 2011 to 23,070 in 2012, a nearly 129 percent increase. Outreach activities went from 26 in 2011 to 41 in 2012, a nearly 58 percent increase.

However, participation and outreach numbers may be higher than cited as the program improves its reporting procedures, said Nancy Peterson, Florida PLT coordinator with UF/IFAS.

The numbers became available in the Project Learning Tree 2012 annual report released in March.

Project Learning Tree teaches critical thinking skills and responsible citizenship to youth, Peterson said.

“It gets youth and adults outside, reconnecting with nature,” she said. “By using the forests as a jump-off topic, it educates Floridians about our forests and related ecosystems.”

“The emphasis is on teaching kids how to think, not what to think,” she said.

Peterson attributes the increase in volunteering, training and participation to hard work from those closely involved with the program.

For more information on Florida Project Learning Tree: http://sfrc.ufl.edu/plt/index.shtml.

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Contacts:

Writer: By Robert H. Wells, 352-273-3569; rhwells@ufl.edu

Source: Nancy Peterson, 352-846-0848; njp@ufl.edu