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Trees, Forests Become Windows on the World for Arkansas Students

Project Learning Tree kicks off Growing Champion Classrooms initiative.
LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - The Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (ACNMWA), a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the work of Arkansas female artists, recently presented the results of its educational initiative related to the current ACNMWA touring exhibit Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey, Drawings by Linda Williams Palmer to Rob Beadel, Director of Forestry Education with the Arkansas Forestry Association.

The initiative, titled Growing Champion Classrooms, consists of teaching materials for traditional and non-traditional Arkansas educators completing professional development workshops with the Project Learning Tree program, conducted by Beadel and a statewide network of facilitators. Materials include large poster reproductions of original drawings from the exhibit and art lesson plans with activities for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. Arkansas artists and art educators Virmarie DePoyster and Laura Krannichfeld Walden authored the lesson plans to meet State Frameworks and accommodate Common Core guidelines. ACNMWA produced the classroom materials with the support of Entergy Arkansas grants in 2013 and 2014, and a 2013 grant from the School of Forest Resources at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The program is also supported in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Linda Williams Palmer’s work is so relatable—every child in Arkansas knows what it’s like to put colored pencil to paper,” said Tom Kennedy, vice president of public affairs, Entergy Arkansas, Inc. “Entergy Arkansas supported the touring exhibit last year, and this year we’re excited to be a partner in this collaborative, educational project.”
 
“By supporting Growing Champion Classrooms, we at Entergy Arkansas hope Arkansas educators see these inspiring images of our most magnificent trees as a way to teach art, math, history and conservation,” Kennedy said. “There’s no better way to give back to our community than sparking the creativity of a child.”

“We’re happy to be part of what we feel is a very worthwhile project,” said Dr. Philip Tappe, dean of the UAM School of Forest Resources. “Arkansas has a rich diversity of natural resources, and it is vitally important that we provide the next generation with an appreciation and understanding of the incredible resources in this state.”

ACNMWA President Marta Jones of Fort Smith acknowledged the completion of the educational initiative. Growing Champion Classrooms is the culmination of the exhibit project that ACNMWA organized for the public in 2012. Both components exemplify our mission: to promote awareness of Arkansas women artists, and to contribute to the cultural life of our state.” 

Growing Champion Classrooms materials will also be available through the Arkansas Educational Television Network I.D.E.A.S. (Internet Delivered Education for Arkansas Schools) portal for certified teachers who complete the Champion Tree unit based on AETN’s DVD of the same name that features the traveling exhibit artist, Linda Williams Palmer. Remaining venues for the art exhibit include Peel-Compton Gardens, Bentonville (June 15-Aug 2); Arkadelphia Arts Center/Ritz Theater, Arkadelphia (Aug 17-Oct 4); and School of Forest Resources/Spencer Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Arkansas, Monticello (Oct 12 – Dec 6, 2014). Click here for more information about the exhibit and educational options.
“The Arkansas Committee has been fortunate to work with Entergy Arkansas and The School of Forest Resources. Their dedication to philanthropy has made this enrichment project a reality,” said Barbara Satterfield, ACNMWA member and project manager. “We hope that teachers and students will use and enjoy these excellent materials, and be inspired to learn more about and preserve our natural resources, as well as create original art. Both are laudable outcomes of the initiative.” 

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 14,000 employees.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello School of Forest Resources is the only forestry school in the State of Arkansas, appropriately located in the heart of Arkansas' timber-growing region. Housed in the Henry H. Chamberlin Forest Resources Complex and a component of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, the School employs 13 faculty and offers two Bachelor of Science degrees, one Associate of Science degree, one Master of Science degree, and five minors. Dr. Philip A. Tappe serves as dean of the School, and he is the director of the Center which is a part of the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture.

The Arkansas Committee of NMWA was founded in 1989 to ensure that female artists in Arkansas have the opportunity to present their work to audiences and to help them find mutual support through the Committee and other female artists. The Arkansas Committee has since been responsible for over 15 exhibitions featuring the work of Arkansas women artists and has awarded 13 scholarships and eight internships to emerging female artists and art students. The Arkansas Committee has sponsored Arkansas artist exhibits at the national museum in Washington, D.C., and has funded the conservation of seven pieces from its permanent collection. 

Project Learning Tree
(PLT) uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to improve it. The Arkansas Forestry Association Education Foundation provides PLT training in Arkansas. In 2013, more than 1,150 educators in the state attended workshops. This international program teaches students how to think, not what to think about complex environmental issues, and helps the next generation learn critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to make informed choices about the environment. 
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