Project Learning Tree® (PLT) honored Rick Zenn, OSAF Portland Chapter member and Senior Fellow for the World Forestry Center(WFC), with its prestigious ‘Rudy Award’ for his lifelong achievement in environmental education (EE) and his commitment to the PLT program. The award was presented to Zenn on June 8, 2015 at the PLT International Coordinators’ Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Zenn is an internationally recognized environmental educator with more than 40 years of professional experience as a naturalist, teacher, program manager, non-profit leader, and consultant. Zenn was WFC’s education director for nearly 20 years and in his current role as Senior Fellow he leads national and international education and outreach initiatives for WFC, focusing on partnerships, training, and institutional development.
The Rudy Award, named after Rudolf Schafer who founded PLT in 1976, is PLT’s highest recognition. Zenn is the fourth person to have ever received this award.
“Rick Zenn has devoted countless hours to helping support and grow the Project Learning Tree program in a number of ways, both nationally and internationally,” said Kathy McGlauflin, Senior Vice President of Education at the American Forest Foundation and National Program Director for PLT. “Rick served on PLT’s Education Operating Committee for 20 years, helped develop PLT’s forest education materials for high school teachers, and every year hosts PLT’s Outstanding Educators at the World Forestry Center. Thousands of educators and millions of students have benefited from Rick’s expertise, leadership, and dedicated service to PLT and the field of environmental education over many years.”
In 2008, Zenn helped lead the initiative to publish and distribute PLT’s Global Connections: Forests of the Worldcurriculum guide for Advanced Placement (AP) and other high school science and social studies courses. In 2011, the U.S. National Report on Sustainable Forests cited the 150-page activity guide as an indicator of national progress toward educating citizens about sustainable forestry by “leading students to investigate the environmental, social, and economic aspects of human interaction with and dependence on forests.”
Zenn currently directs WFC’s International Educators Institute (IEI), an intensive, weeklong leadership development program for accomplished educators, scientists, communications professionals, and natural resource managers who are committed to advancing education about the world’s forests. Zenn founded the program in 1996 and has worked with over 250 program participants from all over the U.S. and 45 countries worldwide.
Zenn has advised many education and conservation organizations throughout his tenure. In addition to serving on PLT’s Education Operating Committee for over 20 years, he served three terms as the Chair of the Oregon Department of Forestry – Urban and Community Forestry Council and was President of Oregon Community Trees, a non-profit organization promoting tree planting and tree care in more than fifty cities and rural communities in the state. He was a member of the Intertwine Conservation Education Task Force Alliance for regional parks and green spaces in Portland, OR. He was also a contributor to the Environmental Literacy Plan for the Oregon Department of Education and the Forest Literacy Project for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.