Tamra Willis, associate professor of education and director of the Environment-Based Learning (EBL) program, received the Virginia Resource-Use Education Council’s (VRUEC) Environmental Education Award at Virginia’s Environmental Education Conference on October 17. The prestigious award, known as The Otter, is given annually to an outstanding Virginian who has made major contributions to promoting public knowledge and understanding of natural resources in the state. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated state and/or regional leadership in fostering working relationships and programs that benefit the educators and students of Virginia.
Willis has been an inspiration to environmental educators in Virginia for 25 years. She began her career as an elementary classroom teacher, taking students into diverse learning environments whenever possible. Through courses in Mary Baldwin’s Master of Education program, she ensures that the next generation of teachers will take their students outdoors and encourage exploration of the world around them. She is responsible for helping to bring the strategy of using the Environment as an Integrating Context (EIC) to Virginia by leading a grant project with five elementary schools.
Willis is an an active partner in the Shenandoah Valley Environmental Education Alliance and serves as policy co-chair for VRUEC. She is also co-editor of the Natural Teachers Network, the newsletter for the Children and Nature Network.
Her efforts in the environmental community have been sustained and have had significant impact on environmental education in Virginia, according to a press release from VRUEC.