The Current Events & Information section of the TFA website provides our members with the latest news, upcoming events and other information related to TFA.  Please scroll to the bottom of this page for more publications. 

Please check back often for event updates and important announcements.



3-29-2011 EPA has created a free middle school teaching kit entitled You Can Make a Difference

03/29/2011 -

The EPA has created a free middle school teaching kit entitled You Can Make a Difference.  The posters on The Life Cycle of a CD or DVD, The Life Cycle of a Cell Phone, and The Life Cycle of a Soccer Ball would be perfect for use with Activity 75: A Few of My Favorite Things and Activity 82: Resource Go Round.

To order your free kit, complete the online request form at:

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PLT 2011 International Coordinators' Conference Registration Information

03/22/2011 -

Project Learning Tree 2011 International Coordinators Registration Information

June 6-9, 2011 Montgomery, Texas
Registration Fees

Full Conference    $350.00*
Daily Registration $125.00* per day (includes meals)

Everyone attending the conference must register in advance. Your registration must be completed online and submitted by Thursday, March 31, 2011 to receive the early bird rate. All guests and/or spouse of a conference participant will need to register separately.

Project Learning Tree, is a program of the American Forest Foundation, takes great pleasure in inviting PLT participants to Montgomery, Texas for the 2011 Project Learning Tree International Coordinators' Conference. TheConference will take place June 6-9, 2011, at the La Torretta Resort and Spa, located on beautiful Lake Conroe.

This conference offers a unique opportunity to network with PLT Coordinators, Outstanding Educators, various program sponsors and partners, local Texas natural resource professionals and other environmental education professionals from around the country and the world. We hope you'll take advantage of this educational and exciting trip to Montgomery, Texas and join us this June!

Find out what will be happening at the conference, please visit PLT's online CONFERENCE REGISTRATION PAGE.

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What Tree Have To Do With Climate Change

03/22/2011 -


Climate change refers to changes in our long-term weather patterns and in the environment caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. These gases come from burning wood, peat and fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) for cars, cooking, heating, generating electricity for homes, commercial and industrial uses, and from natural events like forest fires and volcanic activity.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Over time, more and more heat is retained, leading to an increase in the earth’s average surface temperature - global warming. There is mounting evidence that our climate is changing rapidly and it is getting warmer.

Rapid climate change brings enormous risks and human costs. Rising sea levels, droughts, flooding and extreme weather are believed by many scientists to be the result of climate change. We can’t predict all the effects, but it is clear we are vulnerable to climate change.

Conservation, increased energy efficiency and investment in renewable energy sources such as solar power, and managing our forests and woodlots as carbon storage are some short-term solutions to help reduce greenhouse gases and help moderate rapid climate change. But greater public awareness and action is needed to solve the problem.



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Introducing PLT's New Online Community!

03/22/2011 -

Introducing PLT's New Online Community!

Using the PLT online community, you can:

  1. Access the PLT Biotechnology and Biodiversity Lesson Plans
  2. Discuss education and environmental issues
  3. Share ideas and success stories
  4. Blog about your experiences
  5. Send updates to colleagues
  6. Join and form groups related to professional development topics
  7. Learn from educators around the country and the world

The PLT Online Community is a community of learners and professionals aided by online resources – much like a Facebook for PLTers.

This community will help strengthen your use of PLT

and improve student learning.

As many of you know, PLT and Earth & Sky have partnered over the past few years to correlate Earth & Sky podcasts to PLT Activities. Teachers can then use Earth & Sky podcasts in conjunction with related PLT activities to virtually bring a scientist into their classroom. You can find out more about Earth & Sky’s partnership with PLT at:

Within the past year or so, Earth & Sky redid their website and unfortunately was not able to maintain their “Teacher’s Center” that had all of the PLT activity correlations. Therefore, we posted the correlated podcasts on the PLT site (under the resource page for each activity) and at the same time reviewed the correlations to include only the most relevant and up-to-date podcasts

Go to

Click on resources in the left panel

Scroll down to Resources for PLT Activities

Choose resources for Prek-8 guide activities or Resources for Secondary Modules (here you will also find the worksheet pages that can be printed so folks don’t have to tear apart their books)

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Dear PLTers RE: Funding & Web Resources

03/22/2011 -

Dear PLTers,

We have seen a lot of action recently here in Washington, D.C. around federal funding.  While we cannot expect the programs we care about to be immune from budget cuts, we hope that Congress and the President will recognize that there is an urgent need for environmental education, as more and more of our children are disconnected from nature. 

This week, Congress began debating a Continuing Resolution, a bill to fund the federal government through the rest of 2011.  On Monday, the President released his Budget Proposal to Congress for 2012.  As this budget process unfolds, we will be looking to protect important federal programs that help get more PLT in classrooms across America.  Some details are yet to be determined, but here is what we know so far about funding for some of the programs that help to support our PLT programs.

EPA’s Office of Environmental Education (funded by the National Environmental Education Act)

  • In the Continuing Resolution for 2011 funding, the Office of Environmental Education escapes cuts and is funded at 2010 levels of $9.038 million.  We will continue to watch for amendments that would propose cuts to this program.
  • The President’s Budget for 2012 funding proposes an increase of $847,000 to $9.885 million.  

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Learn and Serve America

  • The Continuing Resolution (2011) proposes to completely cut all funding for CNCS programs, including Learn and Serve America, which provides direct and indirect support to K-12 schools, community groups and higher education institutions to facilitate service-learning projects. Some state PLT programs benefit from Learn and Serve funding.
  • The President’s Budget (2012) proposes level-funding (same as 2010) at 39.5 million.

Other Details from the President’s Budget

  • The President’s budget request includes $246.1 million through the Department of Education for a new program, Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education, which would support competitive grants to local school districts, alone or in partnership with states to, to support education programs focused on “well-rounded” subjects, including environmental education.  The President included this in his 2011 budget request.  This funding could help to support No Child Left Inside, if the bill is included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
  • The President proposes a $46.8 million investment through the Department of the Interior in initiatives to foster the next generation of conservation leaders and connect youth to America’s Great Outdoors.
  • The US Forest Service proposes to maintain their Conservation Education leadership, through which they work with partners like Project Learning Tree to get kids outdoors and learning about the environment.

Next Steps:  The House will continue to debate the Continuing Resolution for 2011 funding throughout this week, possibly voting on final passage by the end of the week. We are watching for amendments that propose further spending cuts. Later this month, the Senate will debate and vote on the 2011 Continuing Resolution.  Then, the House and Senate will resolve any differences and send the final bill to the President for his signature.  If the 2011 Continuing Resolution is not passed by March 4, 2011, the federal government shuts down.

Throughout March and April, the Congressional committees will hold hearings to review the budget for 2012.  We can expect the committee votes and full House and Senate votes to take place later in the spring and summer.

At each step along the way, we’ll be following funding for federal programs that support our PLT programs and for federal programs that may offer opportunities to further connect PLT’s rock-solid curriculum with educators.  If your state PLT program receives support from a federal program not listed above, please let me know.  I am happy to add it to my list of programs to follow throughout the budget and appropriations process.

Thank you for your support,

Melissa Harden

Manager, Public Affairs

American Forest Foundation



Greenworks! Pollinator Garden Grant  

FAO has just published State of the World's Forest (2011):

Conservation Education -

Scale of the Universe

Just slide the bar at the bottom of the page to move smaller or larger in scale.  It starts at the midpoint with an ant and grain of rice.

PROJECT CENTS, Correlation Files Please go to
and click on your program to check them out.

NWF Report Links EE with High Performance

This new National Wildlife Federation report Back to School: Back Outside! How Outdoor Eduation and Outdoor School Time Create High Performance Students, by Kevin J. Coyle, links outdoor and environmental education with psychological, cognitive, and educational outcomes.

21st Century skills

To learn more about what exactly 21st Century skills are... and how teachers can incorporate them into their teaching, Education Week dedicated their latest issue of PD Sourcebook to the topic of 21st Century skills. This is a free, on-line resource.


Back Pats: 

Deborah Pascall, of Murfreesboro Parks & recreation has been awarded a $1,000 grant from PLT   “The F.U.N. Project (Families Understanding Nature/ Nutrition),” has been selected to receive a GreenWorks! Pollinator Garden Grant. Your project will be awarded in the amount of $1000.  It is our pleasure to partner with you to make a difference in how young people think and feel about their community and their relationship with the environment.


Target offers a useful grant program to help provide field trips to students.  As part of the program, each Target store will award three Target Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide-enabling one out of every 25 schools throughout the U.S. to send a classroom on a field trip. Each grant is valued up to $700.


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'Informal' Science Learning Merits More Support, Researchers Say.....Education's Week Blog...Erick Robelson

03/22/2011 -

Please click below for article.........

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Tree Rings Reveal History of History-Changing Mexican Droughts

03/24/2011 -


Tree Rings Reveal History of History-Changing Mexican Droughts

"Super droughts" may have helped bring down the Toltec and Aztec civilizations

By Tiffany Stecker and ClimateWire  | Tuesday, February 8, 2011 |0

Permanent Address:

DROUGHT DOWNFALL:The record of rainfall found in tree rings suggests that the Toltec and Aztec civilizations of ancient Central America may have struggled to endure long droughtsImage: Jim G, via Wikimedia Commons

The water-stressed Central American region of today experienced super-droughts centuries ago that helped bring down two civilizations, says a study.

Using dendrochronology -- the study of tree rings -- a team from the University of Arkansas created a model using thousand-year-old Montezuma baldcypress (Taxodium mucronatum) from Barranca de Amealco in Querétaro state.

The drought observed through tree rings was "more severe and prolonged than anything we've seen in the modern era," said David Stahle, lead researcher of the study, to be published in the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters.

The study's home base in Mexico is critical, as the climate models used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to measure climatic change have predicted a "drying out" of the country leading up to 2050, said Richard Seager, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, another lab that works with tree rings to decode past climate patterns.

"The fact that they occurred in the past means they could occur again," said Seager, but the events would be "much greater and more extreme."

Connie Woodhouse, a professor at the University of Arizona specializing in the climatology of western North America, said the records indicate that a similar event could happen in the future, with the added exacerbation of human-induced global warming.

"It's not a forecast or a predictive tool," she said. "It's sort of a heads-up."

Climatic conquests
Through studying bald cypress rings, the team was able to reconstruct the soil moisture balance during the rise and fall of the Toltecs and Aztecs, two of Mexico's great indigenous civilizations. The Toltecs flourished from 800 to 1000. Prime time for the Aztecs ran from 1500 to 1700.

The data identified droughts as long as 19 years, and are linked with destabilizing events that eventually brought down the Toltec state. Droughts during Aztec rule coincided with devastating famines.

The shift to a severe climate had secondary effects, as well. "Prolonged drought over Mesoamerica during the early Colonial era may have interacted with epidemic disease to contribute to the catastrophic depopulation of Aztec Mexico in the aftermath of the [Spanish] conquest," states the study.

So will modern civilizations finish off like the Toltecs? Stahle is careful not to draw a direct parallel.

"We don't know for sure if it caused a decline," he said. "We don't know for sure if it caused the collapse of the ancient city of Tula [the Toltec capital]." But the drought's role is apparent.

Dendrochronology is an effective method for constructing climate models back to 2,000 years because it directly calibrates with ancient weather patterns, said Stahle. The bald cypress is a rare variety in the region to survive more than 1,000 years. One tree in southern Mexico is ranked one of the oldest in the world

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Fall of Rome Recorded in Trees By Tiffany Stecker and ClimateWire

03/22/2011 -


Tree Rings Reveal History of History-Changing Mexican Droughts

By Tiffany Stecker and ClimateWire
"Super droughts" may have helped bring down the Toltec and Aztec civilizations

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