Allegheny’s Laura Branby Wins Outstanding Environmental Educator Award

Laura Branby, the Pittsburgh-area educator for Allegheny College’s award-winning Creek Connections watershed education program, has received the 2020 Outstanding Environmental Educator Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators.

“Standing with me are many, many educators, formal and informal, and environmental professionals who work alongside me every day. They are the ones who teach me, through their words and actions, so that I may pass along their knowledge and passion to others,” said Branby, who is also the camp director for Allegheny’s Freshwater Academy, formerly known as Creek Camp.

Allegheny's Laura Branby: Educator of the Year.
Allegheny’s Laura Branby: Educator of the Year.

Upon receiving the award, Branby told the group: “Allow your passion to shine through you to others. Your passion is what allows your message to get through. You can be passionate about weather, animals, plants, birds, geology, wetlands, trash, invasive species, remediation, climate change, learners young or old … whatever it is, share that passion with others. It is your passion that wins over people and makes them care for, or about, your subject and makes them most likely to take action.”

Branby earned a meteorology degree/geology minor from North Carolina State University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and worked as a weather officer/meteorologist in the U.S. Air Force. Branby has taught watershed programs and developed new programs for the schools and public to introduce the Pittsburgh area to the wonder of the area’s streams and wildlife. She is the first and only Pittsburgh educator for Creek Connections. She has steadily connected thousands of students/teachers with their local creeks, encouraging stewardship by finding and providing people and resources to support their work.

Branby’s move to environmental education has allowed her to become intimately familiar with many of the rivers and creeks in the Pittsburgh area, connect her knowledge of weather with hydrology and aquatic biology, and ultimately allow her to share a passion for lifelong learning and the many wonders of our natural world.