New Mexico Project Learning Tree (PLT) has announced its first annual Outstanding Educator of the Year. Carolyn Nesbitt is the Fenton Ranch Director for Manzano Day School, where she is responsible for teaching students about the natural environment at a retreat in the Jemez Mountains.
State PLT Coordinator Jean Szymanski praised her work, “teachers like Carolyn are the reason we provide Project Learning Tree workshops-so that the curriculum will be used both inside and outside the classroom, to help students learn about our natural environment, by engaging in fun activities.”
Before coming to Manzano Day School, Ms. Nesbitt served as an environmental education volunteer for the Peace Corps in Bolivia, earned a Masters degree in Environmental Education and worked as an interpreter for Redwood National Park in California.
One of the most useful resources in Peace Corps was the hands-on curriculum in the PLT guides. She adapted the lessons to fit into the culture, resources and learning levels of her students, kids, Bolivian teachers and Peace Corps volunteers.
“The PLT curriculum has been immensely useful and relevant whether working in Bolivia, the Redwood Empire in California, or here with Manzano Day School students. The more they know about and engage with the environment, the more they care about it and keep it healthy,” asserts Ms. Nesbitt.
At Manzano Day School, she uses PLT to meet New Mexico State Standards. She utilizes the Build-A-Tree lesson with a tree costume in her first grade classrooms as well as activities on decomposition. The students learn about the parts of a tree by putting it on in layers.
Ms. Nesbitt received a “tree cookie” engraved plaque and $200 for her award.
This information was originally published in EE Connections for Spring 2012 [PDF].