Project Learning Tree applauds all educators, facilitators, and partners whose efforts make our program successful. Each year, Florida PLT recognizes a Partner, Facilitator, and Educator of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the program.
In 2018, The Bill Kleinhans Spirit of Florida PLT award was initiated and is awarded to an individual, group, or organization that exemplifies the essence of Florida PLT, furthering the mission and goals of the program.
National PLT also awards a Leadership in Education Award annually to recognize those who make significant contributions to advance PLT programs and initiatives at the state or regional level.
Congratulations to the 2023 Florida PLT Award Recipients!
Congratulations to Florida Urban Forestry Council, 2023 Florida PLT Partner of the Year; Emily Blum, Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens School Program Specialist, 2023 Florida PLT Facilitator of the Year; and Katrina Roddenberry, Director of the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium’s New Teacher Academy and My Virtual Classroom, 2023 Florida PLT Educator of the Year.
Florida Urban Forestry Council, 2023 Florida PLT Partner of the Year
The mission of the Florida Urban Forestry Council (FUFC) is to promote the value, enhancement, and sound management of urban forests through leadership, collaboration, guidance, and education. The FUFC is extremely supportive of Florida PLT as they recognize that PLT plays a critical role in providing forest-related professional development to educators, ultimately reaching thousands of students each year.
The FUFC provides Florida PLT support though funding, promoting the program and program training opportunities to FUFC membership, and by providing expertise at trainings when asked. Examples include Joe Anderson, Past President of the Florida Urban Forestry Council presented at Florida PLTs inaugural Facilitator Learning Series webinar in December 2020, "Discover Your Urban Forest." Deb Hilgert, FUFC Executive Director was happy to promote the April 2023 Nature Resource Professional PLT training and is a huge supporter of youth education and workforce development in the green job sector. Darryl Richard, President-Elect helped with a PLT training by sharing his expertise during the activity "Looking at Leaves", and attended the 2023 FL PLT Facilitator Retreat to accept this award.
Emily Blum, 2023 Florida PLT Facilitator of the Year
Emily is the School Program Specialist at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens where she helps lead camps, field trip experiences, and teacher trainings. She is a strong environmental educator and has helped identify and organize environmental curriculum for the zoo to use when leading student programs. She also serves as one of the Community Builders for the Association of Zoo’s & Aquariums Conservation Education Committee. Through the years, she has taught both in the formal classroom and in various informal settings. Emily has attended several PLT Facilitator retreats, and officially became a PLT Facilitator in 2019.
Emily has been a strong supporter of PLT in Duval County. She has worked in conjunction with Janet Schnauss to develop a summer program called DCPS Environmental Thursdays at the Zoo for Duval County Public School teachers. She has been a co-presenter at all the DCPS PLT trainings, leading activities and helping secure training locations at the zoo. Emily also leads other PLT trainings during the school year when she is able and incorporates PLT activities in her summer zoo camps. Emily has a passion for leading teacher professional development trainings and hopes to foster environmental education initiatives across the state of Florida.
Katrina Roddenberry, 2023 Florida PLT Educator of the Year
Katrina is currently the director of the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium’s (PAEC) New Teacher Academy and My Virtual Classroom. As an adjunct professor and clinical education coordinator at Flagler College in Tallahassee, she infuses Project Learning Tree into her science methods courses. Katrina was a classroom teacher for thirteen years, teaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She and her students participated in numerous NASA and environmental projects and challenges. Katrina has been the recipient of numerous awards for teaching excellence, including the High Impact Teacher of the Year, awarded to exceptional educators who make a positive impact on student achievement and the 2021 Wakulla District Teacher of the Year.
More recently, Katrina initiated, coordinated, and helped conduct three high-quality trainings through PAEC in 2022/23. She scheduled trainings, recruited participants, arranged for facilities, and presented Florida Standards for activities and shared examples of experience using PLT activities in the classroom. Katrina secured funding to provide stipends, travel, and snacks for participants in addition to purchasing Explore Your Environment Guides and access codes for the online option. As a result of Katrina’s initiative, the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium trainings have expanded the reach of PLT in the Panhandle area.
2023 Bill Kleinhans Spirit of Florida PLT Award
Robert Raze, former chair of the FL PLT Steering Committee, was awarded the 2023 Bill Kleinhans Spirit of Florida PLT Award. Over the last three decades, Robert has played a pivotal role in environmental education in Florida, as well as nationally. He has been an anchor for the Florida PLT program, helping to navigate significant changes over the years, as well as to continue to grow the program’s reach and impact.
Robert never hesitates to say “yes”, helping with all things Florida PLT, including, notably, a significant growth of partnerships with college and university preservice programs across the state. In 2004 when Robert began teaching as a faculty member in the College of Education at St. Petersburg College, he introduced the concept of professional development for preservice teachers through PLT workshops. Robert shared his passion for environmental education with his preservice students. As one student commented, “Dr. Raze made me realize the importance of including environmental education in my practicum experience.” Kimberly J. Hartman, Dean, College of Education, St. Petersburg College, said, “Dr. Raze is extremely committed to environmental education and his expertise is recognized by his students who always give him the highest marks on their evaluations of his teaching.”
Robert’s list of accomplishments over the years in the field of environmental education is extensive and includes serving on many state and national advisory committees, including the PLT Education Operating Committee, as well as nearly 15 years of service on the FL PLT Steering Committee, becoming vice-chair in 2015 and chair in 2020, before retiring in 2023. But most importantly, Robert’s steadfast commitment to and passion for advancing PLT in Florida is an inspiration to all of us fortunate enough to have worked with him.
2022 National PLT Leadership in Education Award
Congratulations to Janet Schnauss, Elementary Science Specialist for Duval County Public Schools for receiving the 2022 National PLT Leadership in Education Award!
Janet has been a PLT facilitator since 2015, and from 2019-2021, she facilitated seven PLT professional development events for 133 educators in Florida. Read more here.
Nominations for 2024 Florida PLT Awards
Nominations are now being accepted through June 15, 2024. Nominate a deserving partner, facilitator, or educator today! Download a nomination form and email the completed form to Elise Cassie: email@example.com