HOUSTON, Texas (April 19, 2017) – Houston Arboretum’s Associate Director, Pat Marks was recently awarded the Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award for Early Environmental Education. She is among 13 other recipients around the United States to be recognized for her outstanding achievements towards early childhood environmental education. Pat has been an active environmental educator for over 40 years. She started at the Arboretum in 1976 as a naturalist and, in the intervening years, served as Senior Naturalist, Education and Conservation Manager, Director of Education, and finally in her current role as Associate Director, managing eight staff members and twenty seasonal student interns.
Pat has worked with tens of thousands of students (some of them now Arboretum Board members!), hiking through the woods in search of armadillos or a hawk overhead, dipping in the Arboretum’s ponds for crawfish and tadpoles, planting pollinator gardens full of wildflowers and much more. Pragmatic and knowledgeable, she introduces young children to the outdoors patiently and gently, making nature-lovers out of even the most skeptical students. As many as 60% of the Arboretum’s elementary-age program participants come from inner-city, Title I schools, and their experiences at the Arboretum are often their only exposure to wild space. One of Pat’s primary areas of focus in recent years has been increasing the number of economically disadvantaged students who visit the Arboretum for environmental education.
“I love working with people and introducing them to the beauty of nature It’s fun! [I’m] trying to get past people’s preconceived notions [of nature] – to observe [the outdoors] so they can go on the trails and become their own instructors”, says Pat Marks.
Pat has made regional environmental education a priority. In addition to her Texas State Teaching Certificate and State Environmental Educator certification, she is also accredited by Project Learning Tree, the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation; Project WILD, a national wildlife-focused conservation education program for K-12 educators; and Project WET, a network of water resource educators. Pat was a founding member of the Environmental Educators Exchange and serves on the Texas Environmental Education Certification Advisory Council, where she is a reviewer and long-time member.
The Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award annually recognizes select individuals who are enhancing the environmental education of children. Additionally, recipients are awarded $1,000 to further facilitate them in creating environmental awareness and showcasing the beauty of our planet to children.
The mission of the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is to provide education about the natural environment to people of all ages and to protect and enhance the Arboretum as a haven and as a sanctuary for native plants and animals. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, one of the first nature education facilities for children in the state of Texas, provides services to nearly 200,000 visitors annually. The Arboretum also provides nature education for more than 10,000 children annually. For more information about the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and levels of membership, visit www.houstonarboretum.org<http://www.houstonarboretum.org> . Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonArboretum and Twitter @HoustonArboretu; share your photos using #houstonarboretum.