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Danforth instructor wins Maine Environmental Educator award

DANFORTH, Maine — An East Grand school educator — with a passion for teaching students what the great outdoors has to offer — has been lauded for the dedication shown to her students.

 

Tammi Matula, a pre-kindergarten to grade 12 physical education/Health/Outdoor Education educator at East Grand School, was named the Maine Environmental Education Association 2019 Eberhard Theile Environmental Educator Award winner.

“The MEEA Award Committee and Board of Directors feel that your accomplishments and dedication to the field of environmental education have been outstanding and highly commendable,” said Alexandra Grindle, association board member and award committee chairperson said in an email to Matula. “The Eberhard Theile Environmental Educator Award is designed to recognize an environmental education professional who works outside the formal classroom setting or a classroom teacher who incorporates environmental education into their pedagogical philosophy and practice.” 

Tammi Matula of East Grand School was the recipient of the Maine Environmental Education Association’s 2019 Eberhard Theile Environmental Educator Award. (Courtesy of Dave Conley)

According to the group’s website, the Maine Environmental Education Association “works toward building an environmentally literate Maine where powerful learning experiences connect individuals to the state’s landscapes. Maine will be a state where all people engage civically, work collaboratively to build equitable and resilient communities, and understand the relationship between their well-being and that of the world.”

Matula was one of several honorees at the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth on Jan. 22.

“I was surprised to hear I had won this award,” Matula said Friday. “I honestly didn’t really know what it was about, but once I looked into it I was humbled they selected me. There is no way just one person gets an award like this. So many people have been involved for so many years to make this happen.”

Matula has spent the past 10 years in the East Grand school system, working alongside Dave Conley to create the outdoor education program for students. She credits much of the success of their outdoor education program to the community support the school receives.

Matula was nominated for the award by her friend Korah Soll from Maine Rural Aspirations. In her nomination letter, Soll praised Matula’s efforts to teach students at East Grand School the importance of outdoor experiences in their everyday lives.

A close up of the plaque Tammi Matula received as the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association’s 2019 Eberhard Theile Environmental Educator Award. (Courtesy of Dave Conley)

“She is a master at blending outdoor experiences with her physical education curriculum, in fact, it is the basis for all she teaches,” Soll wrote. “Her students, regardless of age, are outside exploring and mastering natural resource-based activities year-round. Not only are they learning how to snowshoe, rock climb, cross country ski, canoe, kayak, white-water canoe, hike and build trails, they are also learning about how to cook in the wilderness, and how to develop wilderness survival and first aid skills.” 

The Eberhard Thiele Environmental Educator Award is designed to recognize either an environmental education professional who works outside the formal classroom setting or a classroom teacher who incorporates environmental education into their pedagogical philosophy and practice. 

Eberhard Thiele was the first president of the Maine Environmental Education Association (1981), served many years on the board and inspired many students as the director of Environmental Studies at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

“We have been super fortunate here at East Grand School,” Matula said. “We have had an outdoor education program here for the past 20 years. It was well before my coming here. The school has been very supportive of us.”

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