Park educator awarded for showing teachers how students learn outside

1:24 p.m Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 Local
MacArthur Beach State Park Director of Education Veronica Frehm and Robert Raze, Project Learning Tree steering committee vice-chair, pose for a photo when she won the Florida Project Learning Tree 2017 Facilitator of the Year award. Photo courtesy of MacArthur Beach State Park.

The top educator at Palm Beach County’s only state park is getting statewide recognition for her work getting other teachers comfortable taking their students outside to learn.

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Veronica Frehm, the director of education at MacArthur Beach State Park, is the Florida Project Learning Tree 2017 Facilitator of the Year.

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Project Learning Tree is an environmental education program that encourages teachers to use the outdoors to increase students’ understanding of the environment and help them make informed decisions. It’s designed for people who work with students in preschool through 12th grade.

Frehm, a Project Learning Tree facilitator, puts on workshops for teachers each year to acclimate them to the outdoors so they can improve their students’ learning.

“The educators that come to my workshops are incredible, wanting to learn more about our ecosystems that we have in our backyard,” Frehm said in a news release. “It is an honor to receive this award, but the honor is truly mine to be able to be a part of this amazing program and be able to share it with so many.”

Teachers who spend three days of their summer vacation at the park for professional development earn the ability to come back during the school year with their students for a MacBeach Day. The students get to wade into the estuary, where they scoop up creatures in a net for examination and get a close-up look at the mangroves.

Paul Strauss, the director of the environmental and conservation services department for the Palm Beach County School District, nominated Frehm for the award after participating in a workshop.

“She strives to bring the topics to life by finding real-world examples to the concepts outlined in Project Learning Tree guides. I am beyond impressed with her knowledge of the program and her innovative approach to teaching Project Learning Tree principles.”

— SARAH PETERS

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