New Changing Roles Materials Available

Module-5-smallThe Changing Roles Professional Development Program provides state and federal natural resource agencies and partner organizations with a set of flexible resources to conduct their own training programs, aimed toward building skills and tools to successfully tackle WUI issues. Materials include trainer’s guides, exercises, fact sheets, case studies, DVDs, and presentations. The original four module topics include: (1) Wildland-Urban Interface Issues and Connections; (2) Managing Interface Forests; (3) Land-Use Planning and Policy; (4) Communicating with Interface Residents and Leaders.
We recently added a fifth module that addresses a range of emerging issues in the wildland-urban interface and strategies for addressing them, including topics such as climate change, firewood movement, interface entrepreneurs, succession planning, ecosystem services, environmental justice, partnerships, and the benefits of outdoor activity for children.  A few of the materials in this module are still in development, so check back later for more. To view these new module materials click here.

Green Strides Webinar Series

The Green Strides Webinar Series acquaints school communities with the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement.

May 1, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Bringing Climate Change Home (USFS/PLT)

May 8, 2013, 1-2 p.m. School Sting: Impacts on Communities, Health and Environment (EPA)

May 8, 2013, 2-3 p.m. Drinking Water Best Management Practices for Schools (EPA)

May 15, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Engaging Your Community on Green Apple Day of Service

May 22, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Teacher Ranger Teacher (NPS)

May 29, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Authentic Student Voice in GreenSchools! (USFS/PLT)

June 12, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Summer Reading for Environmental Education (EDN)

Sign up for Green Strides Webinar Series email updates to receive information on future webinars. All times are given as Eastern Standard. View archived webinars here.

Let’s Zumba Outside for GreenSchools!

shapeimage_28Lantrip Elementary Environmental Science Magnet School, Jackson Middle School and Stephen F. Austin High School, all in close proximity of each other in Houston, Texas, are partnering with the the Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas – Latino Legacy and many others, to host a Zumbathon to support area students in creating a more healthy Houston through campus and community greening projects. The US Forest Service is helping sponsor the free Green Expo and Health Fair.

The “Let’s Zumba Outside for GreenSchools!” event will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2013, from 9 am – 1 pm at Stephen F. Austin High School, located at 1700 Dumble, Houston TX.

Primary components of the event will center upon getting children and their families outside, campus and community greening, site planning for outdoor spaces, and promoting the important connection between health and nature.

To learn more about this family friendly event visit


WetlandsLIVE Classroom Resources

The WetlandsLIVE program provides students and teachers with a fun, informative and interactive way to discover wetlands. The program is geared toward students in 4th through 8th grades and provides classroom resources to get students engaged in their local wetlands, such as free lesson plans on wetland ecology, migration and more. The program also includes citizen science projects, free live webcasts, and video contests to promote interactive learning.

Join the next webcast, “Discover Wetlands”, on May 9th from 1 – 2 pm ET to find out what students from Alaska to Virginia are doing to learn about and help wetlands. A live webchat with wetland experts will follow the program from 2 – 3 pm ET. For more information or to register click here.

Kids in the Woods

Picture 2_kid fishingChildren today spend twice as much time indoors than their parents did at their age, a troubling statistic considering the many physical and mental health benefits of time outdoors. The US Forest Service More Kids in the Woods initiative seeks to address this growing disconnect between children and nature.

The “Kids in the Woods” section of the InterfaceSouth website has online resources about children and nature and the importance of outside playtime, including weblinks, handouts, articles and other publications.To view these resources and learn more about our efforts to encourage kids to get outdoors click here.


Urban Foresters Prepare for Disaster

Once spring arrives in the region, the threat of ice storms may wane but hurricane season looms!

Ice and wet, heavy snow are not uncommon weather events in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia from December through February.  Along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts the summer threat of hurricanes is always present.  tree defectsAnd these coastal storms often spawn extreme wind events and soil soaking rain inland throughout the South and Midwest.  What should urban forest managers do to prepare for these events?

In the past year several projects have been completed that help guide municipal and urban forest managers.

A Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (CARPDC) project by Rachel Barker developed the Vegetative RiskManagement Plan (VRMP) and collaboration strategies for urban forester engagement with local emergency managers.  This project also includes the Urban Tree Risk Index (UTRI) tool that is a GIS process for developing risk management zones on a county or multi-county basis.  Get the list of links here…

The Friends of Hawaii’s Urban Forest (FHUF) recently announced the Urban Forestry Emergency Operations Planning Guide for Storm Response (UFEOP Guide) developed by Teresa Trueman-Madriaga.  This guide provides urban forestry professionals concrete approaches when preparing for natural disasters that impact the urban forest.  The guide contains 10 key components of preparedness: planning, safety, communications, contracts, incident command system, inventory, mutual aid agreements, training, vegetative debris, and vulnerability.  Get the guide at Smart Trees Pacific…

And, the Georgia Forestry Commission and Georgia Urban Forest Council recently completed Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning for Georgia Communities prepared & presented by Connie Head.  Initial workshops were held in Gainesville, Marietta, and Mansfield for urban forestry staff, municipal/county managers, and local emergency managers.  The combination workbook & template are used to guide community planning and preparation for urban tree mitigation.  Download the workbook & template here…

A key message from all of these projects: know and reduce urban tree risk!

Natural Teachers: 10 Ways You Can Add Vitamin “N” to your Classroom and Beyond

By on March 23rd, 2013

Not long ago I met some dedicated young women who were doing their student teaching at an impressive nature-based preschool. They made it clear that they’d love to pursue careers at similar schools. But they were discouraged about the prospects. Despite growing demand from parents, the number of nature-based preschools remains relatively low.

“Is there a business school at your university?” I asked. Yes, they said. “Have the business school and your education school ever considered working together to prepare future teachers to start their own preschools?” The students looked at each other. They had never heard of such a thing. Nor had the director of the preschool.

Why not?

Probably because it doesn’t exist. Bringing more nature experiences to education will be a challenging task, and teachers can’t do it alone. Higher education, businesses, families and the whole community must become involved. That’s where the growing children and nature movement comes in. If, as an educator, you’d like to join or help lead the movement, here are a few ways to get started in your own school and beyond…click here

TREEmendously Fun Outdoors

DSCN4442Annie leading Zumbatomic session

Annie Hermansen-Báez and Wayne Zipperer of the Southern Research Station (SRS-4952 Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry) collaborated with Littlewood Elementary teacher Mrs. Ashley Whitehead and University of Florida graduate student John Lagrosa to lead a tree club for students from Littlewood Elementary’s multiage program in Gainesville, FL, March-April 2013. Each session began with a Zumbatomic®1 or yoga warm up outside, emphasizing the importance of outdoor activity and the need to engage in exercise to stay healthy. Students were then asked to “adopt” a schoolyard tree, each picking a different species of tree to learn about. Over the four-session club, students learned about their particular tree and kept a nature journal to record different characteristics of their tree. Students were given an official “Adopt a Tree” Certificate and made tree identification signs that will be displayed near their adopted trees for other students and teachers to learn about trees located around their school.

1Zumbatomic® classes are designed specifically for kids ages 4-12 and include specially choreographed, kid-friendly Zumba® routines to music that kids love, like hip-hop, reggaeton, cumbia and more.


Texas Emerging Communities

Many Texas communities are growing at an astounding rate. Small communities face unique obstacles during times of accelerated urbanization; community leaders need planning tools and technical support systems to help them prepare for high velocity growth before it happens – not after. To address this, the Texas A&M Forest Service is working with multiple partners on a state-wide project to educate community leaders and staff to proactively manage high velocity growth to improve quality of life by the conservation, protection, and enhancement of their natural resources. The project addresses six main focus areas: sustainable planning, community forestry, environmental health, wildfire protection, water conservation, and emergency management. The project website includes information about each of these focus areas and includes case studies, municipal tree ordinances, tree preservation ordinances, related web resources, how-to guides, and other informational resources.

To learn more visit:

PLT GreenSchools! April 10 Webinar: Green Jobs and Careers in Natural Resources

Project Learning Tree is proud to be a part of the U.S. Department of Education 2013 Green Strides Webinar Series in conjunction with our national partner, the U.S. Forest Service. The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education. 

Join PLT’s April 10 webinar on “Green Jobs and Careers in Natural Resources”

Green jobs and clean energy careers have been growing at a phenomenal pace and analysts project the trend will continue.  In our first webinar this year, to be held on April 10 from 4:00-5:00 pm EST, Green Team students who aspire to embrace green jobs as a career pursuit will share how greening their schools is helping prepare them for college and careers in natural resources.

 The webinar will feature:

  • Meryl Harrell, Acting Special Assistant/Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary, USDA. She will provide insight into USDA green jobs and how students can prepare for green careers.
  • Mike Maresca, Science and Sustainable Energy Teacher at Bloomfield Vocational Technical School in Bloomfield, NJ. This Blue Ribbon school prepares students for careers in the green energy field by offering students a Green Energy Academy as one of four “career clusters.” As part of their regular studies, Green Energy Academy students study the environmental, economic, political, and social impacts of current energy usage, think about alternatives to current energy models, and design and implement innovative, energy-saving projects. 
  • Isamar Cortes, High School Senior and Green Energy Academy Student Leader at Bloomfield Tech, and Gesny Val, Freshman and Engineering Student at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. These dynamic students will share how they are prepared and encouraged to pursue career opportunities arising in the green energy field.
  • Victoria Arthur, USDA Forest Service Conservation Education Specialist will highlight the USDA’s Job Corps program and a series of green education modules. The module Green Jobs introduces students to the concepts of both the “green” economy and how developing “green” skills can benefit them in the workplace, both in increased wages and long-term career advancement.
  • National Project Learning Tree staff. We will discuss the growing and compelling state of green jobs in America in 2013 and beyond.

Students and teachers are invited to participate in this informative webinar. Register on the Project Learning Tree website.