Vision, Mission & Values

Vision

PEI is a leader in promoting civic and scientific literacy by empowering people to make balanced, well-informed decisions for just and sustainable communities. 

Mission

PEI empowers educators to advance equitable civic and scientific literacy by promoting outdoor, integrated, career connected, locally relevant, real-world science. 

Values

1. Equity

Equitable FieldSTEM learning that is culturally relevant for each student.



2. Collaboration, Diversity and Inclusion

Inclusive and collaborative education that considers all voices, including historically underrepresented populations, when making decisions and designing solutions to strengthen community.



3. Integrity

A cohesive education system that utilizes reliable and trusted scientific resources to build relationships that inspire trust.



4. Authenticity

Education that engages students in locally relevant, economic, social, and environmental questions, problems, issues, and opportunities. To ensure authenticity, this work is conducted in partnership with agencies, organizations and businesses in the community and brings student voice and civic participation into age-appropriate community decision making.



5. Stewardship

Education that encourages students to actively take responsibility for the vitality and sustainability of the environmental, economic, and social systems of their communities.



6. Creativity Inspiring innovative, socially just, science-based thinking

PEI’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ)

PEI has long been dedicated to ensuring equitable access to science education connected to civic participation for all students. That dedication required out of the box thinking, modifying existing models of curriculum development and distribution, and advocating for student-centered, community-focused learning that both engaged learners and met education standards. PEI created frameworks and guides to support educators, schools, and districts to build asset maps for meaningful applied learning in their region. We know that students engage when classrooms connect to field-based learning and when students are exposed to the myriad of ways that personal and collective decisions impact the ecological, economical, and socio-cultural health in the places they live. Communities are stronger and healthier when students create and help implement solutions to steward the overall health and well-being of the community, which in turn benefits the planet they care about. PEI’s purpose has always been to empower educators to advance scientific literacy by promoting equitable, outdoor, locally relevant, integrated, career connected, real-world science.

Education is a complex process which in praxis must be culturally relevant for the learner. As historically underserved voices are increasingly heard, best educational practice is informed. It is evident to the PEI staff and Board of Directors that the work we do to increase equity in science, is simply not enough. We need to do more to help bridge the opportunity gap, to ensure that our frameworks, instructional guides, and professional learning experiences are supporting the most underrepresented people in each community. PEI’s model will be most effective when, for each community, marginalized populations are part of the leadership and implementation team.

Some diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) actions accomplished at PEI include updating the hiring process, updating our organizing language (vision, mission, values), and establishing a formal DEIJ committee. The committee purpose is to hold regular meetings to move forward the DEIJ work, to formalize and demonstrate our intentions of becoming an anti-racist organization, to actively challenge racism and the policies and practices that uphold it. The overall goal of the committee is to ensure that DEIJ principles are embedded throughout PEI’s policies and practices, and to further synthesize, operationalize, and facilitate the work among staff, board, partners, and participants. The committee meets regularly and includes members of the executive staff, program staff, and a board liaison. The committee intends to expand participation to partners and community members in the future to ensure that their voices and perspectives are included.

The committee’s first tasks were to create a foundation for DEIJ work. Group agreements were established to support authentic and meaningful participation between committee members who represented diverse perspectives and voices coming together to create intentional change toward becoming an anti-racist organization. The committee then created relatable and specific definitions for the foundation terms, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, to ensure they were unified in their next steps. Next, committee members will create a working draft of a DEIJ Action Plan with a list of goals and actions to support the process of becoming an anti-racist organization.

The DEIJ Action Plan will encompass all areas of the organizations policies and practices including Organization-wide Policies & Systems, Board Involvement, Employee Development, Community and Partner Engagement, Resource Development, and Program Operations. Individual committee members will facilitate the ongoing actions necessary to ensure DEIJ goals are met.

The committee will regularly report updates and actions to staff and board and seek input for next steps, ensuring all voices and perspectives are included in the work. Participation in the committee is always open to any staff or board members.

History & Awards

History

The Pacific Education Institute (PEI) was founded in 2003 by a consortium of leaders from 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 the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA). Recognizing a lack of real-world, career-connected, locally relevant, outdoor-based education in the state, they established teaching frameworks to guide this kind of education grounded in Washington State’s educational goals, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

We have a commitment to advance science literacy and deepen student engagement by empowering educators to take students outdoors to learn integrated real-world science. Strong proponents of integrated instruction, our frameworks fuse STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education with language arts, social studies and art, and apply it in contexts that matter to students and their communities.  We call this teaching and learning model FieldSTEM®. When taught with fidelity, FieldSTEM allows students to approach their learning from many entry points to weigh the complexity of social, ecological, and economic systems and the interplay between society and the natural world. Having students engaged in locally-relevant, environmental challenges and stewardship activities as a cornerstone of their STEM education exposes them to the complex decision-making that is required of our democratic process.

We have conducted research to demonstrate increased student engagement and achievement as a result of integrated learning using the environment as context. Our FieldSTEM Model is now used statewide to meet NGSS in K-12 science education standards. 

Long-time environmental and natural resource educators, founding Executive Directors Lynne Ferguson (2003-2010) and Dr. Margaret Tudor, Ph.D. (2010-2017) laid the foundation for a system that would effectively infuse the study of environmental science, natural resources and agriculture into civic and STEM education. Having served for years as leaders at WFPA and WDFW, respectively, they also served as the statewide coordinators of K-12 environmental science programs Project Wild®, Project WET®, NatureMapping®, and Project Learning Tree®. In 2016, long-time educational leader, environmental educator and STEM curriculum and standards 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 and administrators, and with policy-makers to ensure environmentally based, locally relevant, career connected STEM education is a priority.

Kathryn is a member of the Washington STEM Education Innovation Alliance and sits on the LASER Advisory Council, the Washington STEM Network, E3, and the National Heritage Advisory Council. 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.

Awards

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:

1996

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.

2000

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).

2006

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

2007

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.

2008

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).

2009

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.

2009

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

2011

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

2012

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

2012

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

2012

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.

2016

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.

2017

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

2017

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.

2017

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

Kathryn Kurtz

Executive Director

(360) 489-6769
[email protected]

Bio

Denise Buck (she/her)

Denise Buck (she/her)

Program Director

(509) 903-5853
[email protected]

Bio

Gail Kramer (she/her)

Gail Kramer (she/her)

Finance & HR Director

(360) 464-1164
[email protected]

Bio

Katie Hatam (she/her)

Katie Hatam (she/her)

Associate Director of Program

(360) 705-9289
[email protected]

Bio

Heidi Smith

Heidi Smith

Associate Director of Communications & Development


[email protected]

Bio

Position Open

Position Open

Operations Coordinator


Bio

Heather Spalding

Heather Spalding

Green Jobs Coordinator

(360) 489-6630
[email protected]

Bio

Lourdes Flores Skydancer

Lourdes Flores Skydancer

Multicultural Program Coordinator


[email protected]

Bio

Amy Dawley (she/her)

Amy Dawley (she/her)

Eastern WA FieldSTEM Coordinator

(509) 530-1064
[email protected]

Bio

Amy Keiper (she/her)

Amy Keiper (she/her)

Northwest FieldSTEM Coordinator

(360) 927-5016
[email protected]

Bio

Daniel Cuevas (he/him)

Daniel Cuevas (he/him)

East Sound-South FieldSTEM Coordinator

(253) 260-3351
[email protected]

Bio

Emily Newman

Emily Newman

Lower Columbia FieldSTEM Coordinator


[email protected]

Bio

Julie Tennis

Julie Tennis

Coastal FieldSTEM Coordinator


[email protected]

Bio

John Hunter

John Hunter

Coastal FieldSTEM Coordinator

(360) 640-9607
[email protected]

Bio

Lara Tukarski (she/her)

Lara Tukarski (she/her)

South Sound FieldSTEM Coordinator

(360) 515-7039
[email protected]

Bio

Megan Rivard (she/her)

Megan Rivard (she/her)

Central WA FieldSTEM Coordinator

‪(253) 271-9546
[email protected]

Bio

Molly Griffiths

Molly Griffiths

West Sound FieldSTEM Coordinator


[email protected]

Bio

Tressa Arbow (she/her)

Tressa Arbow (she/her)

East Sound-North FieldSTEM Coordinator


[email protected]

Bio

Our Board

Pacific Education Institute Board of Directors

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

Tim Garchow – Vice President, Executive Director, Washington State School Directors Association

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

Doug Kennedy – Secretary, State Uplands, Department of Natural Resources

 

Cinnamon Bear – Education Forester, Hancock Forest Management

Jason Callahan – Policy and Communications Manager, Green Diamond Resource Company

Leslie Druffel – Outreach Coordinator, The McGregor Company

Erin Ewald– Director of Regulatory Affairs, Taylor Shellfish

Kim Fry Professional Learning Coordinator, Washington Association of School Administrators

Dr. Tamara Holmlund – Professor of Science Education, Washington State University

Ignacio Marquez – Regional Assistant to the Director, Washington Department of Agriculture 

Hanford McCloud – Council Member, Nisqually Indian Tribe

Cindy Mitchell – CFO & Sr. Director, Public Affairs, Washington Forest Protection Association

Bill Monahan – Resource Unit Leader, Rayonier

Justin Parker – Executive Director, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Lisa Perry – Washington Community Relations Manager, Sierra Pacific Industries

Marissa Rathbone – Director of Strategic Advocacy, Washington State School Directors Association

Scott Seaman – Executive Director, The Association of Washington School Principals

Rhonda Weaver – Senior Director, State Government Affairs, Comcast

Careers at PEI

Join Our Team

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, please email a cover letter and résumé to [email protected].

 

Contact

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