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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Ohio State Professor Emeritus Receives Top Award for Work in Environmental Education

October 27, 2011

RALEIGH, NC -- Rosanne Fortner, professor emeritus of Ohio State University's School of Environment and Natural Resources and former education director of Ohio State University Sea Grant, received the highest honor from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) at its annual conference on Oct. 15 in Raleigh, N.C.

Fortner was presented the 2011 Walter E. Jeske Award, which recognizes individual’s outstanding service to NAAEE and leadership within the environment education profession.

“I am so humbled by this award,” Fortner said. “We all reach the heights by standing on the shoulders of giants, but in environment education, I've also been buoyed up by the professional accomplishments of my students. This is a giving profession, always paying forward.”

Fortner, currently the Great Lakes director of the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), has spent her career helping science educators find new, engaging ways to bring the Great Lakes into their classrooms. As part of the first project Ohio Sea Grant funded more than 30 years ago, Fortner introduced science teachers to new methods of presenting ecology topics to help students connect oceanic issues to a region they knew better -- the Great Lakes. By encouraging input from science teachers, she led the development of class materials to teach about several environmental issues, including climate change science in 1993, propelling Ohio Sea Grant to the forefront of teaching the subject. Other curriculum material Fortner created helped teachers show students the connections between environmental issues and the affected stakeholders.

Even after her retirement from Ohio Sea Grant in 2005, she mentored 10 teacher fellows toward Master’s degrees for three summers at Stone Laboratory, Ohio State's island campus on Lake Erie, where Fortner has taught courses for 27 summers.

In his nomination letter, Tom Marcinkowski, the 2010 winner, praised Fortner as someone who has “stood for and pushed for excellence in our field, and has been a bridge builder to sister fields such as marine education and earth systems science education. She is highly deserving of this award, and this recognition for her lengthy and numerous contributions to the wider environmental education profession.”

As the director of COSEE Great Lakes, she has fostered connections between educators and scientists and she spearheaded the development of the Great Lakes Literacy Principles which provide a framework for teaching about the lakes. Fortner’s impact has been felt both within and far beyond Lake Erie and the Great Lakes region. She has given presentations in nine countries and served in Cyprus as a 1999 Fulbright Scholar.


Matthew Forte
Rosanne Fortner, Jeffrey Reutter