Lehigh Valley's Jacqueline McLaughlin wins environmental education award

McLaughlin recognized by North American Environmental Education Association
Professor McLaughlin holding her award

Jacqueline McLaughlin was honored with the 2017 Higher Education Educator of the Year Award by the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Credit: Dennille Schuler

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Jacqueline McLaughlin, associate professor of biology at Penn State Lehigh Valley, was recently recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). McLaughlin was honored with the Higher Education Educator of the Year Award, given to educators for promoting environmental education and utilizing the environment as a context for learning in their teaching.

In 2004, McLaughlin founded Connecting Humans and Nature through Conservation Experiences (CHANCE), an award-winning, international environmental education program in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Boasting support from more than 40 partners and sponsors around the globe, CHANCE provides virtual and field opportunities for students and educators to conduct research that addresses global environmental concerns.

Hundreds of teachers and students have taken part in CHANCE’s field course programs since its inception. Annually, nearly 10,000 students participate in CHANCE’s online research-based activities. Students feel strongly motivated by their participation to engage in environmental stewardship activities outside of the program. The program has contributed to a measurable increase in environmentalism in Costa Rica and China.

“Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin’s leadership, in and out of the classroom, has made an invaluable contribution to the field of environmental education,” said Judy Braus, NAAEE’s executive director. “Our award winners are leading the way toward a more sustainable society from classrooms to communities.”

“I am thrilled that Dr. McLaughlin has received this award,” said Kenneth A. Thigpen, director of academic affairs at Penn State Lehigh Valley. “The Lehigh Valley campus has been fortunate in having Dr. McLaughlin work diligently in environmental education for a number of years. She has contributed widely and profoundly to the University's goal of student engagement by enriching environmental education, nationally and globally, through her research, teaching and service. This work is far above and beyond the scope of her normal duties. She is one of our most popular teachers and generates a lot of student interest in environmental science in general and in biology in particular. She also encourages students to engage in high-level undergraduate research.”

This year, NAAEE presented 10 awards to outstanding individual and organizational leaders across North America. For a full list of 2017 winners, visit the NAAEE website.