The Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) recognized DGIFs own Suzie Gilley as the NEAFWA INFORMATION AND EDUCATION PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR at their recent conference. Suzie is the National Project WILD State Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). She became Virginia’s Project WILD coordinator in 1982, when the Commonwealth became the first eastern state to become part of the effort to provide materials to Virginia educators.
Project WILD was established to assist learners of all ages in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment resulting in responsible behavior, informed decisions, and constructive actions concerning wildlife and the environment upon which all life depends. In addition, Virginia’s Project WILD program meets the accepted criteria for environmental education, and provides educators with materials that supports Virginia’s Standards of Learning.
Today, Project WILD is one of the most widely-used conservation and environmental education programs among educators in Virginia and nationally. Suzie is the senior coordinator among the nation’s WILD programs. Each year, an average of 900 educators statewide attend one of the over 50 Project WILD teacher professional development trainings offered by Suzie or one of her 100 volunteer facilitators. These 900 teachers work with over 27,000 students to meet the program’s mission of providing wildlife-based conservation and environmental education that fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources.
Suzie brings a balanced wildlife educational concept to Virginia’s educators. Her insight and expertise with DGIF staff and other state coordinators has been instrumental in the development of educational programs and events. Suzie is a valuable asset to the agency’s wildlife educational program. She is the agency’s representative to the interagency work group, Virginia Resource Use Education Council, and has volunteered to lead several projects. For the past seventeen years, Suzie has worked with the Virginia Natural School Recognition Program. She has applied for schools across Virginia to be recognized for their stewardship and environmental efforts. During the 2016 school year, sixty-one schools representing over 30,000 students were recognized. Knowing that teachers are the driving force in any school, she volunteered to take on the Governor’s Conservation Classroom Challenge (Executive Order # 42), by mailing out individual teacher certificates to schools statewide, and recognizing their efforts to conduct field investigations and getting students outside.
Suzie’s extensive knowledge of the Virginia’s wildlife and natural resources, as well as Virginia’s educational needs makes her one of the department’s most valuable employees. She has dedicated over 30 years to improving and enhancing education focused on the values and benefits of the outdoors and protecting and conserving the environment.
We congratulate Suzie for her guidance, knowledge and drive to help students learn. For more information on Virginia’s Project Wild, please visit: DGIF Project Wild.