Doherty named conservation district’s educator of the year
GUILFORD — Most everyone can recall a teacher that positively influenced them and helped pave the way to their career success. In Piscataquis County, a county rich in natural resources, we are fortunate to have several educators who are dedicated to teaching students about the environment, conservation biology and our natural resource’s deep rooted value to our area.
Each year the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (PCSWCD) Board of Supervisors nominates an educator from our county to receive the Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year Award, and this year they have chosen to honor Heather Doherty of Piscataquis Community Secondary School (PCSS) in Guilford.
Doherty began her teaching career at PCSS 14 years ago. Prior to her teaching career, she obtained a degree in environmental & soil science from the University of New Hampshire. After graduating, she worked for Acheron Engineering in Newport.
Doherty explained that she “very much enjoyed her work in that field, but really wanted to do something to make a difference. I thought, what better way to have a positive impact on the environment than to teach.” Over her teaching career, Doherty has enjoyed watching the progression of her students starting the year dissenting science, to by the end of the year, truly enjoying and being interested in science.
Doherty has gone above and beyond to create opportunities for her students to learn in and about the outdoors. In her first year at PCSS, she was approached by then school board member George Nuite who encouraged her to get involved with Envirothon. Since that time Doherty has advised Envirothon teams each year, who have gone on to have several successes including her 2013 team winning the State Envirothon and competing in the national competition. Her 2017 Envirothon team placed third at regionals and sixth out of 12 teams at states.
Doherty “loves seeing that spark in her students and how Envirothon provides opportunities for them to work right alongside natural resource professionals, showing them options for rewarding, successful careers in Piscataquis County.”
She worked with the PCSWCD in the fall of 2016 for our BioBlitz at the Law Farm. The exceptional work her students put forth inspired us to nominate them for the Maine Woods Forever 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award, which they were presented with this past spring.
Outside of her work with the district, Doherty has been awarded a State of Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry Bureau of Parks and Public Lands Recreational Trails Program grant to work with students and community members to build a handicap accessible nature trail connecting PCSS and PCES.
“Students will be involved in all aspects of this project, from design to construction and everything in-between,” she said. “It has been a great community project to be involved in and allows a wonderful opportunity to get students further engaged in the outdoors.”
Doherty also noted that “these students are going to be the generation that helps protect and conserve our environment, so my goal has always been to get them re-exposed to the outdoors, so that it’s a part of them and they have an appreciation for our natural world.”
Doherty has spent the entirety of her teaching career prioritizing the importance of educating students about conservation biology, environmental studies and the outdoors. Her enthusiasm for education generates visible interest in her students and here at the PCSWCD, she has inspired us in so many ways. For these reasons and for all of her tireless work, Doherty is more than deserving of the PCSWCD’s 2017 Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year Award.
The PCSWCD will be honoring Doherty at the underclassmen awards ceremony at PCSS on Thursday, June 15 at 8:30 a.m. The public is welcome to join us as we celebrate Doherty and present her with this well-deserved award.
On behalf of the PCSWCD, congratulations to Doherty! We thank her for her continued effort to educate our youth about the importance of protecting and conserving our natural resources!