By Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI Inc.
We wanted to share all the great news from the PLT International Coordinators’ Conference in Cody, Wyoming with as many of our network partners as possible. We feel that the conference was a great success and we want to share some highlights!
We had a wonderful turnout with over 130 participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. This was PLT’s first conference as part of SFI and it was gratifying to see how well PLT, SFI, and the entire PLT Network worked together to support our combined program goals.
“I was happy to see Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) in Bridgton and one of our amazing teachers shown on Kathy’s Powerpoint,” said Pat Maloney, Maine PLT state coordinator. “LEA was awarded funds from the SFI/SIC Community Grant and I heard this week that they just received funding from Project Canopy. Susan Linscott, Lee Academy science teacher, received PLT’s Leadership in Education Award. She shared this recognition with 10 leaders from across the country.”
I’d like to extend a special thanks to our hosts, Wyoming PLT! Not only did they assist with all the logistics, but they added so many special touches that helped us connect with each other and with the local community. One highlight was the Hospitality Suite – set among cabins and a wonderful outdoor space – we reflected on the day’s sessions, created and burned our own unique state brand on a wooden bench that will be added to the outdoor classroom at Sundance Elementary School, and enjoyed the music of the Red Butte Band.
Also, a special thanks to the many session presenters who were drawn from the ranks of our network – the backbone of the PLT program. Over 40 individuals helped to lead our general, concurrent, and show and tell sessions.
And thanks to our conference sponsors for their generous support. They include Nieman Enterprises, Arbor Day Foundation, Your True Nature, Hancock Timber Resources Group, ee360, and the Albert I. Pierce Foundation, as well as Wyoming State Forestry Division, Northern Rockies Tree School, and Laramie County Conservation District.
We know how important sharing knowledge and resources is for all of us. Please use this conference proceedings link to view conference session resources from the General, Concurrent, and Show and Tell sessions. This link allows you and others to view and download files. If you would like to upload an item to this resource collection, please email the Rachel Lang (rlang [at] plt [dot] org) for assistance.
A Vision for the Future
We are inspired by the many ways that PLT helps you meet your personal, professional, and organizational goals. This word cloud beautifully sums up your aspirations from our visioning exercise. We are eager to help bring them to life as PLT grows it reach through our collective efforts.
“The PLT network is an impressive, diverse and dynamic group of individuals who do amazing work. Their passion for environmental education and inspiring the next generation is evident. It was thrilling to witness the great excitement we share for building on PLT’s strong foundation and exploring numerous opportunities for growth.” — Kathy Abusow
It’s difficult to summarize the many great sessions and ideas that were shared, but here are a few conference highlights:
- The Pre-Conference Session focused on the ADDIE instructional design and how it can be used to enhance our professional development.
- Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester, and Kristie Salzmann, Shoshone National Forest Public Affairs Officer welcomed us to Wyoming and shared the challenges and rewards of managing forest lands for a variety of purposes.
- Keynote Dan Thompson of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department shared some amazing slides and video that explored the expansion of large carnivore populations in and around Yellowstone and introduced us to the term Charismatic Megadrama! He stressed the importance of education in helping the public understand the role of large carnivores in the greater Yellowstone area.
- In General Sessions, we explored the many ways that PLT can strengthen its core and grow its reach through new opportunities and partnerships. We also looked back on PLT’s accomplishments from the past year and took a peek at what’s to come in the year ahead.
- Seventeen Concurrent and 10 Show and Tell sessions provided opportunities for members of the PLT Network to learn from each other to enhance their state programs.
- Our new Leadership in Education Awards allowed us to recognize five individuals and organizations who make significant contributions to their state programs.
- We honored two outstanding PLT Coordinators, Misty Bowie and Betsy Ukeritis, with Gold Stars.
- We enjoyed a chuck wagon dinner at the local Cody Cattle Company – ending with Louisianna’s Ricky Kilpatrick joining the band for “Wild Thing” – and don’t forget the backup dancers!
- During our tour of Yellowstone National Park, we witnessed regeneration following forest fires, experienced the power of geysers, and reveled in abundant wildlife!
More Conference Highlights
I encourage you to read Vanessa’s wonderful blog on the conference, as it features many more highlights and several photos that capture the energy of this terrific event. You can find it on plt.org under News & Stories > News.