Richard C. Bartlett Award
The Richard C. Bartlett Award, established by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and supported by The Bartlett Foundation, was created to distinguish teachers who best represent Richard C. Bartlett’s passion for and leadership in environmental education. Richard Bartlett (1935-2011) believed that the role of teachers in integrating environmental education is critical to preserving the natural world for future generations. His commitment to conservation and environmental education spanned over four decades and inspired environmental educators nationwide. Bartlett Award winners are selected by a distinguished national panel of NEEF judges based on the following criteria:
- Demonstrating creative, replicable approaches to environmental education
- Adopting an interdisciplinary or systems thinking approach to integrating environmental education across subject areas
- Engaging others, such as fellow teachers, administrators and community members in their environmental education efforts
- Increasing student achievement within and beyond the classroom
It is in Richard C. Bartlett’s honor that we acknowledge and celebrate the 2014 Bartlett awardees who have been able to successfully integrate environmental education into the classroom and do so in a manner that is innovative, effective and scalable:
Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award Winner:
Laura Wilbanks: Whiteface Elementary School, Whiteface, TX
Using the environment as a platform to excite the minds and hearts of children and youth is Laura Wilbanks’ passion in education. Her career includes non-formal science education with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History in Las Cruces, the Youth Conservation Corps in New Mexico and Indiana, summer youth camps in Texas and New Mexico and 25 years in the Texas public school system, all with a focus on outdoor education. Laura’s environmental education program, called Science Rocks U, asks students to identify environmental community problems and then solve those issues using science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The effectiveness of the program can clearly be seen in the impressive number of Science Rocks U students Laura has led to win state and national competitions. The program is designed to tie together cross-curricular subject matter as the students learn more about their local and global environment. Laura organizes park and museum visits that use the historical and geographical significance of the region to look at environmental lessons through cultural connections. Field studies utilize mathematics and science and even incorporate language arts through routine field journal entries. Laura shows a strong dedication not only to her students but to the community at large by working with local corporations, wildlife refuges and private land owners to find outdoor learning spaces for her students. She also mentors other teachers in the region and connects her students with professionals in the area to help solve real environmental issues that are facing the community.
Charlene Mauro: Navarre High School, Navarre Beach, FL
Charlene Mauro has been a marine science educator in Santa Rosa County for over 15 years, starting a marine science program that has grown from 2 to 15 sections at NHS, with a total of 25 sections throughout the school district. Charlene is known for not only teaching the content she is so enthusiastic about, but for immersing her students and colleagues in hands-on, “feet-wet” experiences. Through this process, she influences their commitment to environmental education and conservation in everything from career path decisions to the daily choices they make. Guided by a passion for environmental education, Charlene and her marine science students approached the community through a town hall meeting to rally support for the construction of an environmental learning center. Since its official opening in August 2009, the Station has been host to well over 5,000 students and community members annually, providing immersive programs to educate and challenge participants on how to be stewards of their marine environment. Over time the programs have expanded to include field experiences for K-8 school children, Saturday experiences for K-8 students, over-night programs for 3rd-8th graders, public open houses for visitors to Navarre Beach, summer camps, community festivals and programs for pre-K students and families and students with special needs, all with the help of Charlene’s continuing vision. All of the programs are designed to leave participants with a greater understanding and respect for their nearby marine ecosystems, as well as a desire to protect and conserve the delicate habitats of Florida.
Kathleen Ferguson: Okanogan High School, Okanogan, WA
Kathleen Ferguson recognizes the importance of providing each student with access to authentic environmental education experiences. This means involving students in real world environmental studies by connecting them with local field scientists to work side by side throughout the school year. While her biology classes are working with state and local scientists on biodiversity and fire recovery field studies, her ecology course teams up with professional scientists for each new course unit, including work with local fisheries to study fish population rehabilitation. Kathleen invites guest teachers to share with students how their careers developed, what education was required and what their jobs entail throughout the year. The effectiveness of student engagement in these programs is apparent in the number of students that have repeatedly returned after completing the course, and even after graduating, to continue to help with the studies or become student instructors. Kathleen’s students are highly invested in the projects and the quality of their work and even have the chance to present their research and findings through poster sessions to the City Council and interested community members, affecting real environmental communication and change in their community. Kathleen has coached and mentored many other teachers in the region and has designed and presented science curriculum units to teachers at district and state conferences.
Note: The Richard C. Barlett Award is made possible by The Bartlett Foundation. Additional support provided by Baxter Healthcare Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.