South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

October 29, 2009

Project Learning Tree/Forestry Commission Announce 2009ís Outstanding Educator of the Year

Michelle Ashley

(Columbia,SC)–-This year’s 2009 South Carolina Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) Outstanding Educator of the Year award winner is Mrs. Michelle J. Ashley, a high school environmental studies teacher at South Aiken High School in Aiken, SC.  Mrs. Ashley is thoroughly committed to environmental education and has led her school to become more environmentally conscious through the use of PLT activities and materials.

Mrs. Ashley is the lead teacher for the Green Steps program at Aiken High School.  There she focuses on getting students involved in their natural surroundings.  This challenge has grown because today the “Great Outdoors” competes with video games, computers, cell phones, PDAs and other electronic devices which tend to keep our children insulated from their natural surroundings.

Last year Mrs. Ashley started a wildlife 4-H club at Schofield Middle School.  She also sponsors an Eco-meet team each year and is working to train an Envirothon team for South Aiken High.  The Envirothon is a national natural resource competition among high-schoolers.  She sponsors a recycling program at the school and has worked with her students to improve the grounds with a Carolina fence garden (a type of backyard habitat which can be established anywhere--includes plants and other materials native to SC), and a blue bird trail (a series of blue bird nesting boxes mounted in an area to help re-establish that species’ habitat).

Jerry Shrum, SC PLT Coordinator and the Forestry Commission Environmental Education Coordinator, says Mrs. Ashley is the epitome of what the Outstanding Educator of the Year award represents.  “Her dedication to environmental education, her enthusiasm to spread knowledge and her willingness to go beyond what is normal for her profession has enhanced the learning experience of her students,” Shrum said.  “She regularly attends additional training to enhance her skills and last year attended the (Forestry Commission’s) Teachers’ Tour to learn more about the social, economic and environmental effects of forestry in our state.”  Shrum added, “Her most important goal in teaching is to instill a responsibility and respect in her students for the environment which is theirs today and tomorrow.”

Mrs. Ashley will be presented her award at this year’s South Carolina Forestry Association’s 41st Annual Convention at the Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC during the noon luncheon Thursday, November 5th.  Along with her plaque, she will receive a $100.00 cash award to use for educational supplies.

Project Learning Tree® is an award winning, multi-disciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in Pre-K -- grade 12.  PLT is a program of the American Forest Foundation.  It is one of the most widely used environmental education programs in the United States and abroad, and continues to set the standard for environmental education excellence.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Mrs. Ashley, please call Jerry Shrum, Environmental Education Coordinator for the SC Forestry Commission at (803) 896-8892.




You may also call Scott Hawkins, Public Information Dir. at (803) 896-8820. 



 The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource.  For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces more than $1,300.00 of economic impact.


Current News Releases