August 17, 2021
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator
VSU’s Jessica Pippin Named Project Learning Tree Facilitator of the Year
Jessica Pippin with Valdosta State University’s STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation has earned Georgia Project Learning Tree’s Outstanding Facilitator of the Year Award.
VALDOSTA — Jessica Pippin with Valdosta State University’s STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation has earned Georgia Project Learning Tree’s Outstanding Facilitator of the Year Award.
Georgia Project Learning Tree’s Outstanding Facilitator of the Year Award recognizes a facilitator who consistently offers high-quality professional development for Georgia’s educators, promotes Project Learning Tree and its mission to advance environmental literacy and stewardship, and continuously looks for ways to provide professional development and resources for educators in the Peach State.
“I was not expecting this award at all,” Pippin said. “I was so humbled and shocked that others would nominate me. In fact, I spoke with the state coordinator about nominating someone else.
“I am glad to be a part of a program that teaches students not just how to look at their environment but also how to make logical decisions based on all evidence provided to them. That is what is so great about Project Learning Tree, not to mention working with people who are passionate and love to teach others.”
Pippin joined the VSU team in late 2013 as an educational specialist in the Office of Clinical Experiences, where she was responsible for managing hundreds of field experience and clinical practice placements for the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services each year.
In early 2018 Pippin was named administrative coordinator for VSU’s STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation, a role that allows her to utilize creative methods to educate South Georgia teachers and students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, while also fostering a collaborative learning community.
“My team and I get to work with elementary, middle, and high school students through field trips and workshops — both virtually and in person — and we also get to help train and educate our community and our teachers about STEAM education,” she added. “Each day brings the STEAM Center new challenges and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Being able to support thousands of people, even during a global health crisis, makes what I do mean that much more.”
The STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation at VSU has facilitated several different programs to help area elementary, middle, and high school teachers learn new ways to educate, support, encourage, and inspire the students in their classrooms. Some of the more well known initiatives, Pippin said, include Carolina Biological, SunPower for Schools, and of course, Project Learning Tree.
“It is amazing to think that VSU’s STEAM Center can have such a significant impact on South Georgia,” she continued. “We have students in our area that are so far below the poverty line they are deciding whether they should work to help take care of their families or go to school to further their education. We have the opportunity to help level that playing field through our events.
“When you are in the middle of it all, it is easy to get swept up in the logistical details — Does it start on time? Do I have enough supplies for all of the kids? What do I do for ‘filler’ time? What if they have already seen this activity? The list is long. But all it takes is one small spark of interest and a student’s life can be changed forever. We get the opportunity — and it is absolutely an opportunity — to work with students, and adults alike, to help change our culture. We get to help increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics and how they can apply it to their lives. There is no better feeling than being able to see a student have that aha moment and know you have made a lasting connection.”
Pippin said she looks forward to another academic year of teaching VSU’s South Georgia friends and neighbors how to think critically, how to problem solve, and how to use creativity. She also looks forward to having many more opportunities to support area teachers and other community members as they strive to make learning exciting and engaging and empower future generations of curious learners.
VSU’s STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation has two new learning opportunities coming this fall — The Art and Science of Sports, which will open in November, and Girl Scouts Day, which will allow participants to earn badges using Project Learning Tree curriculum.
About Project Learning Tree:
Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. Its mission is to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaborations. It envisions a world that values and benefits from sustainably managed forests.
Project Learning Tree’s goal is to advance environmental literacy, stewardship, and career pathways using trees and forests as windows on the world. It does this by providing students with the awareness, appreciation, skills, and commitment to address environmental issues; enabling students to apply scientific processes and higher order thinking skills to resolve environmental problems; helping students acquire an appreciation for and tolerance of diverse viewpoints on environmental issues and develop attitudes and actions based on analysis and evaluation of the available information; encouraging creativity, originality, and flexibility to resolve environmental problems and issues; and inspiring and empowering students to become responsible, productive, and participatory members of society.