Northern Michigan conservation educator receives 2013 national Project Learning Tree honor
March 6, 2013
Maureen Stine, a conservation educator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in Michigan, was named one of five Outstanding Educators by Project Learning Tree (PLT), the national environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation.
Stine works in the NRCS Onaway field office under a U.S. Farm Bill program to help private landowners in six counties in northern Lower Michigan restore and manage healthy forests. She also volunteers on the USDA Earth Team, which provides environmental education to children in kindergarten through 12th grade and trains teachers to use environmental education with their students.
"I am tremendously honored to have been nominated by the Department of Natural Resources for this PLT award," Stine said. "Park interpretation was a fun way to spend the first half of my career, and now serving the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has enabled me to achieve the professional certifications and trainings needed to implement sound forestry management practices balanced with conservation education. Project Learning Tree is an outstanding international organization that epitomizes the significance of interpreting various forestry disciplines holistically for the benefit of our nation's youth."
Among her many conservation activities, Stine is the Michigan Green Schools program liaison for Cheboygan, Otsego and Presque Isle counties, co-chair of the Getting Kids Outdoors Northern Michigan Coalition advisory committee, and a member of the Leadership Team for the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative.
Stine uses PLT activities and service-learning opportunities to provide meaningful experiences for students of all ages, with an emphasis on trees, soils and water quality issues. She recently guided 125 students on the Cheboygan River to test temperature and pH, gather macroinvertebrates and remove monofilament fishing line from the river banks. The students are now working on a public awareness campaign and installing trash receptacles and interpretive signage to educate others about the dangers to wildlife from improperly discarded fishing line.
"Maureen goes above and beyond to help Project Learning Tree in any way she can," said Michigan PLT coordinator Ada Takacs with the Department of Natural Resources. "She helps make connections across the state, facilitates workshops, presents at state and national conferences and is also a mentor with educators in her area."
Stine graduated from Southern Illinois University with a B.S. in forestry and outdoor recreation resources management. When she moved to Michigan 10 years ago, she began to establish close working relationships with school districts in the northern Lower Peninsula. She conducts PLT workshops that help teachers easily and effectively teach about the environment, often in outdoor, hands-on situations. She also works with the Junior Master Gardener program, 4-H, several Conservation Districts' Master Naturalist Programs, the Michigan Alliance of Environmental and Outdoor Education, and the National Association for Interpretation. She was invited to join the Michigan STEM Partnership, which is helping to build the scientific, technology, engineering and mathematics skills of students throughout the state and prepare them for college and science careers.
Stine will be honored at PLT's 27th International Coordinators' Conference, April 29-May 2, in Point Clear, Ala. She is also invited to attend the World Forestry Center's International Educators' Institute, July 7-13, in Portland, Ore.
PLT Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, exemplary use of PLT and exceptional teaching skills. One other Michigan educator has won the National PLT Outstanding Educator Award since its inception in 1994.
PLT is sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources. For more information, visit www.michiganplt.org.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.