VSU STEAM Center Professional Earns Georgia Environmental Award



Jessica Pippin, Administrative Coordinator with the VSU STEAM Center awarded the 2021 Georgia Project Learning Tree Outstanding Facilitator of the Year Award.

Georgia Project Learning Tree has named a Valdosta State University professional its 2021 Outstanding Facilitator of the Year. Jessica Pippin of Valdosta currently serves as Administrative Coordinator at the University’s STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation.

Project Learning Tree (PLT) is a national, award-winning environmental education program designed for all educators working with students in Pre-K through grade 12. The organization was founded in 1976 and has been recognized as a leading environmental education program. Through hands-on, interdisciplinary activities, PLT provides students with opportunities to investigate environmental issues and encourages them to make informed, responsible decisions. In Georgia, PLT has been coordinated by the Georgia Forestry Commission and the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources since 1986.

“Jessica has been an outstanding leader for PLT and has represented its mission and vision with every activity she’s taken on,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Education Coordinator and Georgia Project Learning Tree Co-coordinator Chelsea York. “In just three short years she has influenced countless facilitators and educators who are inspiring an upcoming generation of children taking environmental literacy and stewardship into the world.”

Nominations for the annual Georgia PLT Outstanding Facilitator of the Year Award are made by peers and reviewed by a PLT state steering committee comprised of 16 members who represent the forestry and education communities. Anonymous votes determine the top nominee. Pippin was recognized for leading 16 professional development events and training more than 320 educators in 2019 and 2020. In response to the COVID pandemic, she worked with PLT’s state coordinator and the state steering committee to adapt and develop the fully virtual professional development model for Georgia. Praised for her innovation and enthusiasm, she hosted numerous
virtual trainings, spearheaded certification for early childhood educators in the Coastal Plains Head Start group, which led to establishment of another professional development project for Head Start educators statewide. Pippin developed PLT activity kits for certified PLT educators, serves as programming chair for the Georgia PLT steering committee and participated in the last three PLT national conferences.

Pippin was formally honored for her achievements at the annual conferences of the Georgia Environmental Education Alliance Conference and the Georgia Forestry Association.