- Author: Shannon J. Horrillo
- Author: Sandy Derby
- Author: Greg Ira
- Author: Martin Smith
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an international, award-winning environmental education program, providing professional development training and workshops for teachers and other educators working with youth. A primary goal of PLT is to increase the environmental and scientific literacy of K-12 students in California through inquiry-based teaching and learning.
Transitioning from a 25-year home within CALFIRE, PLT joined UC ANR in 2013 to ensure a more collaborative and sustainable future for program expansion and development. This year, PLT moved administratively under the UC 4-H Youth Development Program, and is being delivered in partnership with 4-H and the California Naturalist Program.
Through this collaborative effort, UC ANR seeks to expand the reach of the PLT network by engaging existing 4-H Youth Development volunteers, staff, youth and partners and California Naturalist partners, while strengthening environmental education programming within these statewide programs. The collaboration also promotes connections and shared learning between naturalists and youth development staff and volunteers.
Currently, the UC ANR PLT program has a network of 20 active facilitators, offering 30 workshops annually, training nearly 2,000 educators who provide experiential learning activities focused on California ecosystems, forests and trees to more than 10,000 young people annually.
The collective impact of this three-dimensional program partnership will serve to both increase ecological sustainability of agriculture, landscapes and forestry to protect California's natural resources and increase environmental literacy, leading to a qualified workforce for California.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
California PLT operates through a network of more than 200 facilitators, resource professionals and researchers across the state who deliver information and training to community-based organizations, outdoor schools, formal and non-formal educational settings. CAL FIRE, USDA Forest Service, other state agencies and private forestry companies also provide support.
Derby has been working closely with Mike De Lasaux, UCCE forestry advisor and principal investigator on the CAL FIRE grant in Plumas and Sierra counties, who was instrumental in bringing the environmental education program from CAL FIRE to UC. Together they are trying to recruit more resource professionals for PLT programs and to train more teachers, parents and community leaders who work with youth.
To help integrate PLT in the Youth, Family and Communities Statewide Program, Shannon Horrillo, 4-H Youth Development director, is taking on Co-PI status with De Lasaux.
“Ideas, efforts and plans have been shaped for PLT to partner with 4-H volunteer and leadership training,” said Derby, whose position is in the Youth, Families and Communities Statewide Program. “We are also working with ANR's research and extension center directors to use the RECs as training hubs to host upcoming PLT events and workshops.”
Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education of the American Forest Foundation. The primary goal of PLT is to teach students how to think, not what to think about complex environmental issues. Before becoming part of UCCE in 2013, California Project Learning Tree had been delivered through the support of CAL FIRE for 25 years.