Vision, Mission & Values


Scientifically literate citizens making balanced decisions for a thriving future.


To advance science literacy and deepen student engagement by empowering educators to teach real-world science outdoors.


1. EquityOutdoor learning for all students
2. IntegrityBalanced perspective on natural resources
3. StewardshipSustaining our future
4. AuthenticityReal world learning
5. CreativityEngagement, inspiration and contribution

History & Awards


The Pacific Education Institute (PEI) was founded in 2003 by a consortium of leaders from the public and private natural resource, agriculture and education sectors including the Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA) , Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Association of Washington School Principals(AWSP), Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), and Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA). Together we established teaching frameworks to guide project-based learning in the outdoors grounded in Washington State’s educational goals, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

PEI has a commitment to advance science literacy and deepen student engagement by empowering educators to take student outdoors to learn integrated, real world science. PEI is grounding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education by integrating it with language arts, social studies and art and applying it in contexts that matter to communities.  We call this FieldSTEM®. FieldSTEM, when taught with fidelity, allows students to approach their learning from many entry points to weigh the complexity of social, ecological, and economic tradeoffs involved in addressing environmental problems and issues. Having students engaged in locally relevant environmental problems or issues as a cornerstone of their STEM education, exposes them to the complex decision-making that is required of our democratic process.

During the first decade of the 21st Century, PEI conducted research to demonstrate increased student achievement increases as a result of integrated learning using the environment as context. PEI’s FieldSTEM® Model is now used nationwide to meet NGSS in K-12 science education. 

Executive Directors Lynne Ferguson (2003-2010) and Dr. Margaret Tudor, Ph.D. (2010-2017) led the organization into the second decade, combining forces to develop a system that would effectively infuse the study of environmental science, natural resources and agriculture into civic and STEM education. Both directors have been environmental educators, serving as leaders for years at the WFPA and WDFW, respectively. They also served as the statewide coordinators of Project Wild®, Project WET®, NatureMapping® and Project Learning Tree®. PEI is a member of the Washington STEM Education Innovation Alliance and sits on the LASER Advisory Council and the Washington STEM Network. 

In 2016, long-time educational leader and STEM expert, Kathryn Kurtz, became the 3rd Executive Director of PEI and currently works with staff to deliver high-impact professional learning for Washington State teachers. While a new logo in 2017 updated PEI’s look, our mission and dedication to high quality, field-based civic and STEM education remains the same. 


PEI continually strives for excellence in the environmental education and education fields. Our work has been acknowledged by varied and respected entities. We are proud to have received the following commendations:


Prior to PEI’s formal organization, the founding PEI partners were recognized by the American Forest Foundation’s National Project Learning Tree Program for leading an Outstanding Program and consistently providing Excellence in Environmental Education through Project Learning Tree.


Prior to PEI’s formal organization, the founding PEI partners received an award for Outstanding Performance Assessment Product from the Washington Education Research Association (WERA).


PEI received a Career and Technical Education Award: Promising Practices Partnerships, New Market Skills Center.


The Cle-Elum Roslyn School District awarded PEI with a Certificate of Program Recognition for excellent service to students and staff and for ongoing curriculum and instructional support.


Dr Margaret Tudor, PEI’s Co-Executive Director received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recognizing her invaluable contribution to the 2008 Science Standards Revision Team (SSRT).


Dr. Margaret Tudor, PEI’s Co-Executive Director in 2009, was honored through Senate Resolution 8637 recognizing her contributions to encourage schools to use the outdoors as laboratories to study science.


Co-Founder Lynne Ferguson honored with a Governors Accommodation Award from the State of Washington.


PEI received the 2011 E3 Washington Award for Excellence in the Nonprofit Organizational category form E3/ Environmental Education Association of Washington.


The Western Governors’ Association endorsed the PEI Guides as educational tools for conservation education to shape students’ environmental literacy, stewardship and outdoor skills in their “Get Out West” Report to the Governors.


The Puget Sound Partnership awarded PEI a Certificate of Recognition for leadership in advancing Puget Sound Curricula in school districts throughout Puget Sound.


The Secretary of Commerce of the United States Department of Commerce awarded Dr. Margaret Tudor, PEI’s Co-Executive Director with the Coastal America Partnership Award, recognizing PEI’s partnership to make a significant contribution toward the restoration and protection of the coastal environment.


PEI received an award from the Capitol Land Trust for leadership in providing K-12 students in Washington with meaningful learning opportunities with nature as the classroom, and developing the next generation of conservation leaders.


Dr. Margaret Tudor is honored with an award for her work with PEI and the Environmental Education Society in Pierce County.


The Audubon Society, Black Hills Chapter, honored Dr. Margaret Tudor with the Environmental Educator of the Year award for her years of dedication to environmental education and her work with the Pacific Education Institute.


The Puyallup Hatchery Program--PEI's partnership with Puyallup Historical Hatchery and the Puyallup School District--won the Pierce County Conservation District's Educator of the Year Award in 2017.

Our Staff

Kathryn Kurtz

Executive Director


[email protected]

Denise Buck

Program Director


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Gail Kramer

Finance & HR Director


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Lauren Rodriguez

Development Director


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Annette Faris

Program Manager


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Eleanor Steinhagen

Communications Coordinator


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Amanda Romero

Project Development Coordinator


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Julie Tennis

Coastal Region FieldSTEM Coordinator


[email protected]

Mike Nepean

Eastern WA FieldSTEM Coordinator


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Jessica Lawrence

East Sound FieldSTEM Coordinator


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Lori Reynolds

West & South Sound FieldSTEM Coordinator


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Chad Mullen

Lower Columbia FieldSTEM Coordinator


[email protected]

Our Faculty

Our Faculty consists of the finest, qualified professional development providers in Washington State. PEI utilizes their expertise to create relevant curriculum and resources, and act as advisors for districts and educators that are implementing FieldSTEM®.

Kristin Edlund

B.A. Geography, University of Washington
Master’s in Teaching, Seattle University

Area of Expertise: K-12 Literacy, Curriculum Integration and Design, Environmental Sustainability Education systemic program and implementation planning

Dr. Craig Gabler

B.S. Physical Science, Washington State University
M.S. Science Education, Oregon State University
PhD Science & Mathematics Education, Curtin University, Perth Australia

Area of Expertise: K-12 Science/STEM Education, NGSS, professional development design and delivery, EQuIP Rubric for Science

Karen Lippy

B.S. Biology, University of Washington
Master’s in Science Education, Western Washington University

Area of Expertise: Karen supports the Pacific Education Institute’s West Sound GreenSTEM Network, known for its annual GreenSTEM Summit, when students from around the West Sound gather to share their work on behalf of the environment.

Kirk Robbins

B.S. Biology, University of Washington
Master’s in Teaching, University of Washington

Area of Expertise: Designing and delivering K-12 science and engineering professional development that focuses on instruction and equitable practices.

Nancy Skerritt

B.A. English & American Studies, University of Rochester
Master’s in Teaching, John Hopkins University

Area of Expertise: Thinking Skills, Habits of Mind, Integrated Curriculum, Literacy, Common Core ELA.

Dr. Robert Sotak

B.S. Zoology, University of Washington
M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, University of Washington
Ed.D. Education Leadership, Seattle University

Area of Expertise: K-12 Science, STEM, and Environmental Sustainability Education systemic program and implementation planning.

Dr. Margaret Tudor


B.Sc. Geology and Zoology, Minor in Chemistry, University of Adelaide, South Australia

Masters in Public Health in Environmental Health & Community Health Education, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii 

Ph.D. in Urban Education: Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Science and Environmental Education, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Area of Expertise:  helping school districts integrate PEI’s “field investigation” models into their science inquiry programs, projects with a focus on wildlife issues, program evaluation and assessment of student learning in environmental education and education policy.

Breanna Trygg

B.A. English, University of Puget Sound
M.A. Organizational Leadership, Pinchot University

Area of Expertise: Informal Environmental Education, Facilitation, NGSS for Informal Educators, Systems and Design Thinking, Collaborative planning and strategy.

Our Board

Pacific Education Institute Board of Directors

Robert Bass – President, North Cascades Regional Manager, Hancock Forest Management Inc.

Ron Shultz – Vice President, Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations, Washington State Conservation Commission

Lisa Perry – Secretary, Washington Community Relations Manager, Sierra Pacific Industries

Dr. Bill Keim Treasurer Executive Director, Washington Association of School Administrators

Bill Taylor – Immediate Past President, President, Taylor Shellfish Farms


Sally Brownfield – Education Specialist, Squaxin Island Tribe

Mark Doumit – Executive Director, Washington Forest Protection Association

Marty Fortin – Director, Outdoor Learning Center, Cispus and Chewelah Peak

Tim Garchow – Executive Director, Washington State School Directors Association

John Ison – Logging Manager, Green Diamond Resource Company

Gary Kipp – Executive Director, the Association of Washington School Principals

Dr. Martha Kurtz – Associate Dean and Director, Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education, Central Washington University

Judy Schurke – Strategist, Executive Management and Leadership

John Stuhlmiller – Chief Executive Officer, Washington Farm Bureau

Chris Voigt – Executive Director, Washington State Potato Commission

Gareth Waugh – Director, Planning and Acquisitions, Port Blakely Tree Farms

Rhonda Weaver – Senior Director, State Government Affairs, Comcast

Careers at PEI

When available, internships and/or full- and part-time positions will be listed below. As we expand throughout the State, we are always looking for bright and dedicated individuals with a passion for science and education. If you think you would be a great fit for our organization and would like us to keep your résumé on file, you can email a cover letter and resume to [email protected].


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