Gold Award Girl Scout honored as Environmental Educator of the Year

Submitted by Penny Roberts

Northern & Northeastern CO

Estes Park

Gold Award Girl Scout and Lifetime Girl Scout Wendy Roberts, daughter of Jay and Penny Roberts of Estes Park, was recently honored with a prestigious award:  the 2019 Vern A. Fridley Formal Environmental Educator of the Year.  This honor was awarded by the Utah Society for Environmental Education (USEE), and the awards presentation was held on August 9, 2019 at Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City.

Wendy was a teacher in the Estes Park schools for several years in the early 2000s. She began with her student teaching, followed by working as a private tutor and substitute teaching. After she was hired full-time, she taught classes in ESL, Alternative Education, and science to enhance her experience.

She moved from Estes Park to Liberal, Kansas, where she taught eighth grade physical science for two years at the middle school level.  She then moved on to Ogden, Utah, where she now teaches at the DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts, a public charter school. At DaVinci Academy, she teaches high school Biology, Advanced Placement (AP) Biology, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination, a college prep program for 7th-12th grades), and also includes electives such as Botany, Zoology, Aquatic Biology, Wildlife Biology and Current Issues in Science in her curriculum.  Previously, she had taught Chemistry and Earth Systems.  This year, she has added to her job description the role of Instructional Specialist for the teachers of 7th-12th grades and professional development training.

Wendy has also worked extensively with the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College; she instructs teachers how to use the Great Salt Lake in their science curriculum and how to take students on field trips there.  She has worked the entire water cycle into field trips by traveling from the top of the watershed to the entire length of the Salt Lake, showing students the magic and wonder of this unique environment.

In addition, she has worked through the Utah State University to acquire Master Naturalist certifications in Mountains and Wetlands.

Alex Porpora, Executive Director for USEE says, “We are so proud to acknowledge this year’s environmental education awardees and their contributions to our community.  These individuals are role models and inspire me to do the work we do at USEE.”  Further she reports, “Our mission is promoting excellence in environmental education by providing support, resources and networking opportunities to Utah’s community of educators.  Our vision is an environmentally literate society committed to a sustainable future.”

One of Wendy’s current environmental science students was also honored at the USEE awards ceremony, as one of Utah’s “5 under 25” for her work with air quality legislation at the city and state levels. Wendy says she was more in awe of her student’s recognition and levels of dedication than her own award. At the awards ceremony, Wendy said, in summary, “My mom was my greatest inspiration.  She made me look at things (in the surrounding environment) and then she told me that I needed to tell everybody else.  Yes, I make my students hug trees and I make my administrators stop buying plastic bottles.”

She attributes her love for the outdoors and education to her years of working with the Girl Scouts, primarily at Meadow Mountain Ranch near Allenspark.  It’s easy to see how that Girl Scout background has translated to the level of “master teacher,” as evident in her success which is now reaching beyond her own school and into the broader Utah community.

Wendy worked as Assistant Camp Director at MMR for three years, where she directed program and trained staff.  In addition, she participated with “The Milkweeds” in the adult trip to Our Cabana in Mexico where the group visited the Monarch butterfly preserve and helped with an International Festival and a community outreach service project.  Several years later, part of that same group of women, including Wendy, returned to Our Cabana this year to take part in Sea Adventure II, where they were awarded an opportunity to help with a project to protect and preserve sea turtles near Acapulco.  For Wendy, almost any outdoor project is a huge attraction, and she will continue to seek out similar adventures inside or outside the Girl Scout organization.

She helps her mom, Penny, with the program and promotion of Women’s Week at Meadow Mountain Ranch every year, returning to her roots to reconnect with that very special wilderness environment.  Adventures are never-ending when she gets a chance to share with friends old and new on her personal “stomping grounds.”

Please join her parents in celebrating Wendy’s outstanding accomplishment. The future will continue to be bright and will reward her over and over as she works to further her personal and professional goals.

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