Maryland Project Learning Tree

What is Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree is an award winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators working with students in pre-K through grade 12.
PLT uses the forest as a "window" into natural and built environments, helping people gain an awareness and knowledge of the world around them, as well as their place within it.
PLT is a source of interdisciplinary instructional activities and provides workshops and in-service programs for teachers, foresters, park and nature center staff, and youth group leaders.
PLT is people! It is an international network of students, teachers, parents, community leaders, educational administrators and representatives from the forest and paper industry, resource agencies and conservation groups.
PLT works in the city and the country, wherever there is a forest or a single tree.
PLT helps prepare students to make wise decisions about conservation practices and resource use.

"I like learning about the trees and water and my teacher makes us do projects instead of just reading books."

PLT's Mission and Goals

PLT Mission
Increase student understanding of our environment.
Stimulate students' critical and creative thinking.
Develop students' ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues.
Instill in students the confidence to take responsible action on behalf of the environment.

PLT's Goals
Create awareness, appreciation, understanding, skills and commitment to address environmental issues.
Provide a framework for students to apply scientific processes and higher order thinking skills to resolve environmental problems.
Increase appreciation and tolerance of diverse viewpoints on environmental issues by developing attitudes and actions based on analysis and evaluation of the available information.
Stimulate creativity, originality and flexibility to resolve environmental problems and issues.
Encourage students to become responsible, productive and participatory members of society.

"As a teacher training instructor for PLT, I find that teachers are excited about the new curriculum and are making plans to integrate it in science, geography and social studies classes. This curriculum is a classroom winner."

PLT Network

PLT is a grass roots volunteer program that works in conjunction with teachers, schools, state agencies, business and civic organizations, museums, nature centers and youth groups.
State coordinators and steering committees guide the development of the program and select and train workshop leaders. PLT is administered nationally by the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and cosponsored by the Western Regional Environmental Education Council (WREEC).
AFF is a 501(c)3 charitable education foundation supported by grants from individuals, foundations, and industries. WREEC is an organization of educators and natural resource professionals from 13 western states. The Society of American Foresters, the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges, the World Forestry Center and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service are national associate sponsors of PLT. PLT has reached over 400,000 educators and more than 20 million students in all 50 states, several U.S. Territories, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Brazil, Germany and Mexico. PLT's new and revised curriculum for grades preK-12 offers teachers and students a state-of-the-art approach to develop critical thinking skills about their environment.

PLT Curriculum Features

PLT is a comprehensive environmental curriculum. It encompasses the total environment-land, air and water. It is local, national and global in scope.
PLT activities are action-oriented, can be used in any order, and require little, if any equipment.
PLT focuses on developing critical thinking skills. It does not seek to teach children what to think about the environment, but teaches them how to think about the environment.
PLT activities incorporate important environmental lessons into all areas of the curriculum. It can be infused into science, language arts, social studies, reading, arithmetic, art, music, civics, etc.
PLT can be applied in many different educational contexts from classrooms to nature centers, museums and scout troops.
PLT provides ready-made lessons and activities that can be incorporated into busy classroom schedules. The curriculum is "classroom friendly", requires minimum preparation, and, according to teachers and students, is fun to use.
PLT's curriculum includes role-playing exercises that echo the real decisions that are being made in the students' communities.

PLT Curriculum Structure

The PLT curriculum is built around five major themes. PLT activities integrate the themes into all aspects of the standard preK-12th grade curriculum. Each activity guides the student through a process that begins with awareness, moves the student toward understanding, enables them to challenge preconceived notions, and motivates them to seek constructive avenues for environmental action.
PLT Themes are:
Diversity, demonstrating a wide array of habitats, societies, technologies and cultures.
Interrelationships, highlighting ecological, technological and social-cultural systems as interactive and interdependent.
Systems teaching how environmental, technological and social systems are interconnected.
Structure and scale demonstrating how technologies, societal institutions and components of natural and human-built environments vary.
Patterns of change showing how structures and systems change over time.

"I thought the original curriculum was great, but the new PLT Activity Guide is superb. It is obvious that a great deal of thought went into devising new activities that are both challenging and relevant in today's complex world. My sixth-graders will benefit immeasurably from a number of these projects. Even some of the more elementary projects can be modified to challenge the older kids."

PLT's K-12 Curriculum

Based on real needs. The process began in 1990 with a survey of 50,000 teachers, environmental educators and curriculum specialists.
Developed by educators. More than 300 educators helped write and edit the new curriculum.
Tested by teachers. Another 300 teachers tested the new materials in their schools.
Formally evaluated. Complete pre-and post-testing was supervised by the North American Association for Environmental Education.
Classroom proven. Over 3,000 students were exposed to the curriculum, demonstrating its effectiveness as a tool to help young people become environmentally literate.

For further information please contact Dave Reinecke, Pickering Creek Audobon Center, 11450 Audbon Lane, Easton, MD 21601, (410) 822-4903,  Maryland PLT Co-coordinator: Dr. Sarah Haines, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252, (410) 704-2926, (410) 704-2405 fax, email:

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