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EEAI is proud to serve as the Illinois affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education. The Affiliate Network promotes collaboration for maximum effectiveness and efficiency and a unified voice for Environmental Education across North America and beyond.
In 1972 a group of committed and concerned citizens -- both conservationists and teachers -- founded the Environmental Education Association of Illinois. Since that time, members of EEAI have provided leadership on this front at the national, state and community levels. The strength of EEAI comes from the involvement of its members. Their participation in state and regional events raises the profile of environmental education and challenges decision-makers to give environmental literacy higher priority.
Congratulations to our 2017 EEAI Award Recipients
Since 1975, the Environmental Education Association of Illinois has bestowed honors to Illinois' finest environmental education professionals. EEAI is proud to announce the 2017 award winners who represent the strength of environmental education in the state of Illinois.
The Formal Educator of the Year award is presented to teachers with outstanding, ongoing efforts to infuse environmental education into their teaching. The 2017 Formal Educator of the Year is Janet Beach Davis, Associate Director of the Science Lab at Heartland Community College. At Heartland Community College, Janet infuses environmental education into all her classes including Earth Science, Biology and Zoology. She has instituted an outreach program using the educational animals in her lab in which she visits local groups and schools educating them on their feeding habits, taxonomy as well as giving them the opportunity to handle the animals to better understand them. She also incorporates these resident animals into her classes by helping her students learn the power of observation and recording of scientific information.
Janet has provided for place-based experiences for Heartland’s students and faculty through her work in and around Heartland’s garden, pond and prairie restoration. The establishment of these areas has provided opportunities for hands-on learning in relation to Illinois’ native cultural, historical and ecological legacy. Whether fishing at the pond with foreign exchange students, or collecting a crop of prairie grass seed with earth science students, these rich experiences help cultivate and engage the next generation of earth stewards.
Janet Beach Davis has been secretary of EEAI since 2007. Janet was an integral part of the 2009 Midwest Environmental Education Conference. MEEC is a professional development collaboration between four states—Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Janet was the chair of our volunteer committee and recruited and managed over 100 volunteers that made our conference a huge success. We brought in more than $30,000 and provided professional development for educators from 13 states. Janet was very passionate about providing opportunities for the volunteers to be a part of the conference. She negotiated with the MEEC steering committee to give each volunteer the opportunity to attend the concurrent sessions during the conference.
Thank you Janet for your commitment to environmental education.
The Non-Formal Educator of the Year award is presented to a group or individual who exhibits innovative and exemplary efforts to provide environmental education opportunities for general audiences. The 2017 Non-Formal Educator of the Year is Patti Brown of The Nature Institute in Godfrey, IL. Patti has served on the EEAI Board in a number of capacities including West-Central Regional Director and conference chair of two EEAI annual conferences. In 2013, Patti was elected President of EEAI and over the course of her leadership, she focused on recruitment of both membership and Board nominations. As a result, most current Board members were originally introduced to EEAI by Patti. She is a continuous resource for environmental education in the state and a true treasure to those that have worked with her.
In 2016, Patti created a program to entice middle/high school students to investigate the science of decomposition through a hands-on, real time outdoor exhibit at TNI. She designed all aspects of the exhibit/project and requested and received full funding through the 2017 National Project Learning Tree Green Works! Grant. The grant committee applaudes her for her “innovative and creative idea which incorporates student voice in real-world science”.
EEAI is proud to announce Patti Brown as Non-formal Educator of the Year for 2017.
Debbie Fluegel Named 2017 National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator
Debbie Fluegel, Illinois Field Coordinator and Program Manager for the nonprofit group Trees Forever, was selected from nominees across the U.S. as one of five Outstanding Educators by Project Learning Tree® (PLT), the national environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation. This is the first time an educator from Illinois has won the National PLT Outstanding Educator Award since its inception in 1994. In Illinois, PLT is coordinated by the Environmental Education Association of Illinois.
Fluegel works with communities, landowners, and farmers to conduct hands-on planting projects, to diversify and enhance community forests and to establish and restore native plant areas. She also provides training that volunteer leaders can then use with other groups. She has created new environmental education programs for the state’s vocational agriculture teachers, youth group leaders, and other educators. Fluegel manages Trees Forever’s Illinois Buffer Partnership program, focusing on improving water quality, and the Pollinator Habitat Conservation program working to improve habitat for bees and other pollinators, in both Illinois and Iowa. She has an A.A. from Illinois Central College and B.A. from University of Maine at Machias.
Fluegel, along with the four other educators, will be honored at PLT’s 31st International Coordinators’ Conference, April 24-27, in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Debbie and the other Outstanding Educators show the value of engaging, high-quality environmental education,” said Kathy McGlauflin, senior vice president for education at the American Forest Foundation, in announcing the awards. “They are equipping children and adults with knowledge and skills to meet 21st century needs.”
PLT Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, exemplary use of Project Learning Tree’s award winning curriculum materials, and exceptional teaching skills. To see a list of all 5 award winners visit https://www.plt.org/news/five-educators-named-2017-national-project-learning-tree-outstanding-educators/.
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