Blackstone to be honored as Outstanding Conservation Educator

lo-blackstonemug-dcX-po-38    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Each year, the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) recognizes an educator in Piscataquis County as the Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year, for his or her dedication to fostering students’ learning and understanding of natural resource ecology, conservation biology and related curriculum. The PCSWCD is pleased to announce that Dawna Blackstone, Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) regional education coordinator, is the recipient for the 2014 Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year award.

    Through her work in education, Blackstone has effectively and positively influenced a great love and appreciation for natural resource conservation and outdoor education in the youth in the area. Blackstone has provided programming through her work with AMC to almost every school in Piscataquis County. She has worked with children from kindergarten through high school, getting them outdoors, and presenting them with hands-on and active learning about topics such as wildlife, weather, mapping, compass work, watersheds, forestry and so much more.
    The programs are designed to engage students and open their eyes to how rewarding it can be to learn in and about the outdoors. In addition to her presence in schools, Blackstone has also worked with the Milo Outing Club, home school groups, and with classes, facilitating overnights and outings at the AMC Lodges, Little Lyford Lodge and Gorman Chairback Lodge. Through these trips, Blackstone and the staff at AMC have been able to provide an outdoor learning experience like no other, where children learn from the wilderness around them, enjoy activities such as hiking and fishing and gain an appreciation for the great, Maine outdoors.
    In an interview with Blackstone she commented, “I want to show teachers and students that being outdoors provides a positive learning experience for all involved. I hope that through these programs, these children we are teaching will grow up to have an appreciation for nature and to become good stewards of our land.”
    Blackstone has always had a very deep connection with Piscataquis County and the outdoors. As she put it, she’s gained “a lifetime of experience in the outdoors, learning and exploring.” She was born in Greenville and has lived in Shirley almost her entire life. Her love for the outdoors started at a very young age, as she was always outside and learned so much about nature, natural resources and the Maine woods from her father, a retired game warden.
    She left the area only to attend college, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in health education. She married her husband Jon Blackstone, Maine Forest Service Forest ranger, and together they raised two boys. Blackstone has served the community of Greenville by working in the school system, the hospital and now in her current position at AMC.
    Blackstone has several exciting new educational programs planned for 2015. In addition to continuing to offer natural resource programming in schools, she will be working on a forest study with students at PCSS, she will be participating in teacher workshop days and will be bringing outdoor and natural resource education programs to libraries and other community events and places.
    In 2014, Blackstone worked with the PCSWCD youth and teen natural resource summer camps and plans to be a guide in 2015 as campers return for more fun, summertime learning at AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge. Blackstone has been thrilled to see the excitement from the teachers and students that has been generated by these programs and is looking forward to offering these opportunities to all youth in Piscataquis County.
    She said, “I have seen our outreach double if not triple in the past year and when I reach out to the teachers I have worked with, they are always looking forward to next year. It’s exciting to see such a positive response. I’m hoping that more teachers will hear about these programs and want them in their classrooms!”
    For the staff at the PCSWCD, it has been an absolute pleasure working with Blackstone and they are thrilled to be able to honor her tireless work with this award. The staff and board will be presenting Blackstone with her award at our 70th anniversary celebration, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27. The evening festivities will begin at 4 and in addition to the Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year award presentation, the PCSWCD will be serving dinner, enjoying engaging speakers, showcasing the conservation heritage and gathering in celebration of this historic milestone.
    For more or to RSVP for the celebration, please contact the staff by calling 564-2321 ext. 3, sending an email to, or by stopping by the office in the Pine Crest Business Park in the USDA Service Center building.

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