May 17, 2019
Crawfordville Elementary School first grade teacher Kirsten Brazier has been passionate about using the environment to teach her students since she began her career 12 years ago.
Brazier’s work with the national, and now worldwide, Project Learning Tree program has been so highly regarded that she was recently selected as a “2019 National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator of the Year”. Annually, only five teachers nationwide receive this award.
In 2018, she was named the “2018 Florida PLT Educator of the Year”.
PLT is one of the most widely used pre-kindergarten through 12th grade environmental education programs in the United States. Now Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Uruguay use the PLT curriculum as well.
In the U.S., PLT grew out of the first National Environment Education Act in 1970, also the year of the first Earth Day.
“Wakulla County schools made an effort to get every elementary school teacher PLT-certified ten years ago. I was one of those teachers,” Brazier noted.
Now she is the PLT School Coordinator for CES. She supports teachers at every grade level in using PLT lessons to connect students with the outdoors while reinforcing concepts they are already learning in their other subjects.
Brazier encourages new teachers to attend PLT trainings and organizes PLT Week, an annual event with a wide range of activities for all students and community members that has a goal of growing awareness of environmental issues in Wakulla County.
She uses nature to engage students in learning from growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers to studying caterpillars and butterflies attracted to the gardens. Students participate in a schoolwide recycling program and learn the many ways in which they can help take care of the environment and why it is so critical to the future they will live in.
“I mostly use our own schoolyard. We have a field and a wooded area behind CES that gives our students many opportunities to observe nature. We have also used the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge for lessons because they have an excellent environmental education center,” Brazier added.
“We are grateful to all our PLT-trained teachers who engage their students in learning about the environment and use it to make the connection in all of their subjects – math, science, reading, art and more.
“Mrs. Brazier has taken the PLT program to the next level by ensuring that new teachers and the next generation of teachers sitting in her classroom today become as enthusiastic about taking care of our environment as she is. Congratulations on her well-deserved award,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce.