OLD TOWN, Maine – Maine TREE is always eager to support and help facilitate Project Learning Tree workshops, and we were thrilled to work with Dr. Jessica Leahy and her Environmental Interpretation class this last September. PLT Facilitators Joanne Alex and Kenny Fergusson led a professional development PLT workshop with Dr. Leahy’s class, comprised of mostly Parks, Recreation and Tourism majors from the University of Maine at Orono. 

The workshop was held at the Halsey Memorial Outdoor Classroom and Demonstration Forest in Old Town, where Dr. Leahy’s students could actively engage with their surroundings while learning how to administer PLT activities themselves. Many of these students will pursue careers that involve facilitating environmental education opportunities for children and adults alike, and thus learning how to use the PLT guide and efficiently run PLT activities is a very valuable skill. 

The students receive instruction from longtime PLT volunteer, Joanne Alex. Photo courtesy of Jessica Leahy

All students were given a copy of the new K-8 Curriculum Guide for their future use, and Joanne and Kenny led them through several example activities, speaking on how you could tailor them to fit the needs of your audience. Activities included the famous “Every Tree for Itself,” where the UMaine students learned how they can convey complex concepts like forest competition to a younger crowd by using colored chips to represent what trees need to survive: water, light, and nutrients. 

Students enjoyed the workshop greatly, and by the end of the afternoon were already discussing ideas they had about what activities they were eager to try. Dr. Leahy had the students break up into small groups, and pick an activity from the new K-8 guide that they would lead the entire class in during the next week’s meeting. 

To learn more about PLT activities you might be interested in doing, whether in a classroom or at home with your children, please visit meplt.org

Project Learning Tree Volunteers Joanne Alex and Kenny Fergusson discuss preparing their lesson as Dr. Jessica Leahy looks on.

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