One of Project WET’s longtime Coordinators has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Idaho Environmental Education Association (IdEEA). Idaho Project WET Coordinator Julie Scanlin was honored at the Association’s Annual Conference in March.
Growing up on a farm in North Idaho provided Julie with a deep connection to the land and an enduring sense of place. When not working on the farm, her family hunted, fished and camped for recreation. What grew out of those experiences and that place were a strong ethic for the land and a driving force for her life’s work.
“Idaho’s land and natural resources have provided me a living and quality of life for which I will always be grateful,” Julie said. “I feel a strong obligation to give back to—and protect—‘our home’ in any way I can. I have chosen education as that vehicle.”
Julie graduated from University of Idaho with a teaching degree and has also done graduate work there in both education and natural resources. Although she has worked for the University of Idaho for the past two decades, she started out as a classroom teacher, in physical education! In the late 1980’s, Julie began a temporary job with Idaho Fish and Game, eventually becoming their Aquatic Education Coordinator in 1990. Six years later, she was hired by the University of Idaho to serve as the Water Education and Outreach Coordinator for the University’s Water Resources Research Institute. Her position includes serving as Idaho’s Coordinator for Project WET, which she has done for 20 years (so far)!
Through Project WET and her other water education outreach, Julie has impacted thousands of teachers, and through them, many more students. She has also served on the Project WET USA Coordinator’s Council three separate terms—more than any other single Coordinator—including once as chair. In addition, she has actively served on the Board of IdEEA, including as its president for several years. Among other projects at IdEEA, she helped spearhead Idaho’s Environmental Literacy Planning efforts.
Idaho is not the only beneficiary of Julie’s service to Environmental Education. Last year, she helped train educators in workshops in Hawaii, and in 2006, she participated with 20,000 people in the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City.
Maryland’s Project WET Coordinator, Cindy Etgen, recalled that when she first met Julie about 25 years ago, she thought, “That chick from the West is a tough cookie.” Then, she says, “I got to know her and discovered that my instincts were correct. Julie is a tough cookie. She fights for what she believes is right, what is just, and what will be best for all. Julie has a brilliant mind that works more efficiently than most and because she sees through the ‘bull’ and cuts right to the chase, she is a born leader. She is really good at finding solutions and proposing them in a way that most everyone can see the benefit right away.”
Whether teaching directly or guiding environmental education behind the scenes, Julie has done much to deserve recognition. Her sense of place and her dedication to all that is Idaho, to people who work and live off the land, to her family and friends (some of whom traveled to the award ceremony to surprise her!), to the Idaho Environmental Education Association and to all who share in the work of enhancing knowledge and connections to our natural world, make Julie a worthy recipient of IdEEA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.