The recipient of the 2009 NH Environmental Educator of the Year Award for the Elementary School category is someone who may not fit the typical model of an environmental educator. In fact when she was told that she’d been chosen to receive the award, she asked if there was some mistake! However there is no mistaking the commitment and enthusiasm of Mindy Beltramo, school librarian at the Peter Woodbury School in Bedford.
As a librarian, Mindy is a resource person. She has provided resources in the form of insight, coordination, information, community connections and inspiration to students, fellow educators and parents in Bedford. For the past 8 years she has initiated and directed the annual Science Day. The themes of these days have included Agriculture & Eating Locally and Alternative Energy. She sponsors a winter writing contest which bridges disciplines and links the environment with literature. Her library not only houses books but also is filled with interesting objects from the natural world including a very large python skin which she uses to spark interest in reading and writing.
But one important book sparked Mindy’s interest. After reading Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv’s seminal work on children and nature, she launched a remarkable effort to convert their school yard into a community park and education facility. She has spearheaded grant applications, community sponsorship, student fund raisers (including one student who asked that in lieu of a Christmas present her family donate to the schoolyard project) and collaborative efforts with landscape design students from NHTI. The Peter Woodbury School community school yard is even featured on the national No Child Left Inside website. Due to her efforts students will experience education by interacting with the natural world, families will share in the learning and the community has come together in support of this project. Mindy has also joined the NH Children in Nature Coalition to extend her desire to connect children with nature throughout the state.
Many thanks to Mindy for doing all that she does for her students and her community as an environmental educator.