Texas Forestry Association (TFA) presented the 2020 Forestry Innovation Award to Aimee Aubin, City of Austin, Conservation Program Director; and April Rose, City of Austin, Forest Health Coordinator; during the Association’s virtual annual meeting held Oct. 28-29, 2020, at the TFA headquarters in Lufkin, Texas.
Both Aubin and Rose were instrumental in designing, developing, and delivering the 2019 Austin Urban Connections, a new program outreach of Teacher Conservation Institute (TCI), which focused on teachers of grades K-12 understanding how urban forests contribute to social, environmental, and economic well-being, as well as how to incorporate these topics into their classrooms.
“Aimee and April were indispensable in making the Teacher Conservation Institute a three-day event in Austin’s urban setting.” said Rob Hughes, Executive Director, Texas Forestry Association. “The new, more agile, flexible and relevant Urban TCI was a smashing success in introducing urban educators to Project Learning Tree and the sustainable forest product life-cycle.”
During the event, teachers interacted with local natural resource professionals who are experts in the ecosystems and landscape ecology of Austin. Hands-on learning, including field trips, resources and hands-on activities that help implement citizen science, career exploration, and field study were also presented. The educators received training in Project Learning Tree’s interdisciplinary environmental education curriculum designed to teach students critical and creative thinking.
“Incorporating an urban focus in the TCI curriculum was quite the undertaking, and a very necessary one,” said Hughes. “This Urban TCI model will be replicated in other metropolitan areas around the state in the years to come and will become an important pillar in the Texas Forestry Association’s educational and outreach efforts.”