Monday, October 05, 2009


The Project Learning Tree Pre K-Gade 8 Activity Guide is correlated to the Mississippi PLT Curriculum. The work was completed in August of 2009 by education students at Mississippi State University, working under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Pope and Dr. John Guyton.

The document, which is nearly 300 pages, is too large to fit on this blogspot. It is posted at: In case you can't make it out, that is 33_43_29.html.

Monday, August 10, 2009

PLT Works in Mississippi -- Proof Positive. Results of a Pilot Project

PLT Works in Mississippi – Proof Positive


Harold Anderson,

MS PLT Coordinator

For the twenty-two years I’ve been involved with PLT, the National Office has claimed that PLT can help raise test scores. I took their word for it. Now I know for sure.

It all started the day Jeannine May set herself on fire. Yep, she sure did – right there in an advisory board meeting in June of 2004. I was giving my semi-annual report to the board when I got to the part about the International PLT Conference that I had attended just a month before in North Dakota. I explained that the most meaningful session, to me, was the one by Oil City Elementary School Principal Mike Irwin and Environmental Education Director Cindy Kilpatrick wherein they explained how they had used PLT to turn around a failing school. I saw something was happening to Jeannine. I didn’t know if it was a stroke or an epiphany. She slumped back in her chair, her eyes glazed over, and I swear, I could faintly see a light bulb floating over her head and heard what sounded like gears clashing.

It was an epiphany.

“I was just sitting here, trying to be quite,” Jeannine said. “I’m reluctant to say anything because I’m inclined to get myself overextended, but I’m excited about what you just said. My boss, Dr Homer Wilkes, (Jeannine is the PAO for the NRCS in Mississippi) is very interested in environmental education, and I’m sure he would support me getting involved in bringing such a project here to Mississippi.” She jumped into the chair, pumped her fist into the air and screamed “Let’s go for it!” (Not really, but hey, I’m entitled to a little poetic license).

I contacted Principal Mike Irwin at Oil City and arranged a show-me trip. Jeannine, Lynn Porter (an environmental educator with the Hinds County Soil and Water Conservation District and long-time supporter of PLT) and I drove to Oil City on a scorching hot August day during the first week of school. The first thing we saw when we drive up, was a teacher and students weeding a flower bed – and it was 103 degrees! Now, my dear not-from the-South friends, 103 degrees in Mississippi and Louisiana is not the same as 103 degrees elsewhere. Stepping into it from an air-conditioned car is like getting hit with a steaming blanket. Your hair instantly goes limp and is plastered to your forehead (if you are lucky enough to have that much hair – I don’t). Your clothes are instantly sodden and cling to your body. If you raise your hand to wipe the sweat out of your eyes, sweat drips from your elbow and forms pools on the ground. Do you get the idea it was hot? And they were weeding a flower bed! Now THAT’S impressive!

Awe-stricken, we introduced ourselves to our new heroes and explained our business. The teacher led us to Mike and Cindy. They took us on a tour of this beautifully maintained 1920’s building and grounds filled with interesting environmental education nooks. PLT was everywhere; the staff (from custodians to teachers) and students were proud of their school and students were excited and eagerly learning.

We explained that we would like to do something similar in Mississippi. Cindy and Mike offered their help, and this one very important piece of advice: It won’t work unless you have someone in charge – his or her job must be to direct the program.

Full of hope, we returned to Mississippi and put together a committee. With our enthusiasm high, we decided to go for it. We secured a grant from the MS Department of Environmental Quality, in cooperation with the Central Mississippi R, C and D Council. We identified five counties scattered throughout that state where we wanted to conduct the program and hired Olivia Brunson, a retired board-certified teacher, to administer the program. The schools ranged from inner-city, to small town to rural. Four were public schools and one was a private academy. One school dropped out of the program due to the illness of two key teachers. Olivia suggested that we focus on fourth grade, since fifth graders are tested on science on standardized tests.

Olivia presented each school with an environmental teaching kit and taught the involved teachers selected activities from PLT and other environmental “Project” programs. Each participating teacher earned a $100 stipend.. Olivia developed a post-test, with the questions drawn from the state curriculum, then helped the teachers teach the afore-mentioned activities. At the conclusion of the school year, the teachers administered a post-test – with dramatic results. The average increase in test scores was 41 points! In the inner-city school it was 61 points. Now that’s impressive!

Where do we go from here? We’re still working on that. But we have dramatically proven that the National PLT office was right – PLT CAN improve test scores. You’d better believe we will use this information to further environmental education in Mississippi.

For her efforts, Jeannine May was named Mississippi’s PLT Educator of the Year for 2009.

Herb Cookies Recipies

Mariam Wahl brought some of these cookies to a workshop in Lafayette County. They were delicious.

Lemon Basil Snaps

(Use only fresh basil in this recipe)

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup minced fresh basil or lemon basil

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chopped pistachio nuts

3 Tablespoons sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and next 3 ingredients, beating until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Combine nuts and sugar in a shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in nut mixture and place 2 inches apart on un-greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with hands or bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Lavender Sugar Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons lavender flowers, crushed or ground in food processer

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and lavender flowers. Sift flour and baking powder together and add to butter mixture. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter on un-greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes just until edges brown. Remove to racks to cool.

Lavender Ice Cream

(This recipe is for a tabletop ice cream freezer.)

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon lavender flowers

2 egg yolks

½ cups sugar

Place lavender flowers in a diffuser ball or in triple thickness cheesecloth bag. Combine cream and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Place lavender into milk and heat until mixture almost boils, 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and remove and discard lavender. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl until light yellow and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add 4-5 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the eggs and stir until combined. Add egg mixture back to hot milk, stirring continuously to keep eggs from curdling. Cook over low heat 3-4 minutes until thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Cool mixture in an ice water bath, stirring constantly. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before placing in ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Lavender Lemonade

In a 2 quart pyrex measuring bowl, place 8 cups of water and 7 heaping tablespoons of lavender flowers. Boil 24 minutes in microwave; let steep for 2-3 hours. Strain lavender water and use to make your favorite lemonade recipe. For, convenience this also works well with Country Time Lemonade mix.

Lavender Lemon Bars

and all this time I thought lavender was just a scent! These are great!