April 25, 2011
11-88

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Lauren Oliva

Science Instructor Named Outstanding Educator of the Year

 

VALDOSTA -- The Georgia Forestry Association named Valdosta State University Science Education Instructor Janet Forrest its 2011 Outstanding Educator of the Year for her work with Project Learning Tree (PLT) -- a global education program aimed at increasing students’ awareness and understanding of the environment.

Since 2003, Forrest has been working with the American Forest Foundation program to instruct a range of age groups, from elementary school children to senior citizens, about the importance of wildlife conservation. Helping even one person understand the importance of his or her actions on the planet “means it has been a good day” for the environmental enthusiast, who has worked at VSU for the past four years.

“I believe the best way to ensure our natural resources -- wildlife, forest, soils, water, and air -- for future generations is through proper conservation techniques, management practices and education,” said Forrest, who works alongside the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), Langdale Forest Products Co. and the Georgia Forestry Commission to educate early education majors at VSU. “Working with others to teach them about the importance of our natural resources and how much we depend on them in our everyday lives can help them to understand why we must conserve water, harvest trees and even why the state allows hunting.”

Forrest is one of 500,000 educators throughout the world who employ hands-on activities, music and dance to encourage the more than 26 million student participants to explore nature, lead socially-responsible lives, and heighten their critical and creative thinking skills. The tactile learning approach, Forrest said, enables students to absorb the material longer and become responsible stewards of natural resources.

“Everything is either directly or indirectly connected,” said Forrest, who has dedicated the past three summers to teaching Governor’s Honor Program students about natural resources. “Watching students put those pieces together and have a better understanding of our natural world is exciting.”

The Georgia Forestry Association will present Forrest with the award during its annual meeting July 16-18 in Savannah, Ga. The state has participated in PLT programming for more than 20 years, and its forestry association is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the United States, founded in 1907.

“Getting recognized for something you do because you enjoy it is a wonderful accomplishment,” Forrest said. “I look forward to working with the program for many years to come.”

To read more about how to get involved or donate to Project Learning Tree, go to http://www.plt.org/.