Member Spotlight: Dave LaHart, LEEF Founding Member

Monday, December 11, 2023 11:22 AM | Deleted user

LEEF Member Spotlight:  Founding Member DaveLaHart

Important Accomplishments

I’d like to thank LEEF for their recognition of my work in Environmental Education over the last three decades. I got involved in EE as an undergraduate at Cornell University, the first time I heard the term “Environmental Education.” I spent 2 more years at the University of Florida before moving to Florida State University. I have worked with a lot of programs and a lot of wonderful people and am very proud of all that has been accomplished by the EE community. I worked primarily with secondary teachers and have been rewarded numerous times. Some of those awards include Florida’s Outstanding Science Educator (1989), Florida Marine Science Educator of the year (1999) and received the Golden LEEF Award (2003).

I earned a New York Regents which started my academic career. After a stint in the Army I attended the wonders of Cornell where I learned under the auspices of enthusiastic and knowledgeable faculty. I learned a lot about people’s perceptions of the environment. From then on I was interested in working with educators to expand their view of the earth.

While at the University of Florida I was exposed to many new ideas about human and environmental interactions. From U of F I moved to Florida State University as a results of grants and support from the Florida Wildlife Federation and worked with them in the legislature. Legislation we passed directed the DOE to begin an Environmental Education program.

I helped the Florida Department of Education integrate Youth Conservation Corps, solid waste management, Project Wild and Project Learning Tree with direct assistance provided to school-based EE programs. I was proud of the work done by the Wildlife Federation, the Florida Audubon and the many school districts and programs I helped develop.


I was fortunate to have many mentors along my career in Environmental Education. I recognize Dr. Richard Fisher in Environmental Education at Cornell. Among the many things Dr. Fisher taught me was how to enjoy the diversity of the outdoors and teach it to others. ISPA, Institute of Science and Public Affairs at FSU, was generous in offering office space and assistants as I throughout my “teaching” career. Jim Phillips was the Educational Contact at IFIS. Jim and I traveled over the state working with school districts, Environmental Centers and Educators. It was an experience which would lead me later to be actively working with Educators in Environmental Centers through the University of Florida. Dick Tillis was with the Director of Department of Education and Director of the Florida Wildlife Federation. Florida Wildlife Federation was instrumental in development of Environmental Education and formation of LEEF.

Mike Mullins was the Project Director at Nature Coast Environmental Education where he worked with EE centers statewide. Legislative Development of mini-grants were incentives to start school-based EE programs. The Florida Wildlife Federation supported LEEF’s legislative agenda. Florida Audubon helped by donating their publication “The Florida Naturalist” and printed 5,000 copies for schools to use. The articles were springboards for lessons in indoor and outdoor classrooms.

LEEF met and exceeded the expectations of Legislators, DOE and school districts through involvement with quality Environmental Education programs. Involving teachers and Supervisors in development and implementation brought successful programs.

Founded in 1983, the League of Environmental Educators in Florida is the professional association for individuals and organizations dedicated to the cause of environmental education in Florida. We are the state affiliate for North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), an organization that brings together those interested in the study and enjoyment of our natural world and one that has promoted excellence in environmental education throughout North America and the world for over four decades.  

The League of Environmental Educators in Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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