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Local Educator Wins Community Engagement Award

Erin Horton, SEEDS EcoSchool Site Coordinator at Marion Elementary School, receives Community Engagement Award from Michigan After-school partnership

TRAVERSE CITY — The Michigan After-school Partnership (MASP) awarded the Community Engagement Award to Erin Horton, SEEDS EcoSchool Site Coordinator at Marion Elementary School, at the 2023 Michigan After-school Collaborative Conference. The conference was held in East Lansing, Michigan and was co-hosted by the Michigan Department of Education and MASP on March 1, 2023.

Each year, MASP recognizes local leaders working to provide extraordinary opportunities for the children of Michigan. The Community Engagement Award spotlights an innovative person within their community that is characterized by encouraging deeper learning in service-based activities that challenge young people to make a positive impact. 

“Erin Horton truly embodies the spirit of community engagement,” said Sandy Ehlers, EcoSchool Program Director. “Her impact reaches not only the school community, but the entire community of Marion. She has initiated innovative programs that bring various businesses and community organizations to work on EcoSchool projects with the children of Marion Public Schools.” 

EcoSchool at Marion Elementary School provides free after school and out-of-school time programming to enrolled students. An average of 35 students attend each day.

Since the EcoSchool program was established at Marion Elementary School in 2019, Horton has created and taught hands-on and outdoor activities that connect students to nature, each other, and their community. 

Examples of learning activities that have engaged the community include a pollinator garden project at the local mill pond, an Anishinaabek medicine wheel installation, field trips to the Twin Creek Nature Area, and watershed lessons in collaboration with Inland Seas Education Association. Additionally, Horton made connections with local businesses to expand the school garden and start a composting program.

Horton organizes family events that frequently attract hundreds of attendees. Family fishing days, winter tubing nights, and tours of a local alpaca farm are all popular activities that have created the opportunity for family members to connect with each other and to also connect with other families. 

Stated Danyel Prielipp, Superintendent of Marion Public Schools: “Erin always goes above and beyond for our kids at Marion. She is passionate about what she does and is able to contribute so much to our community and school. I can’t imagine not having Erin as part of the Marion family.”
Sandy Ehlers, SEEDS EcoSchool Program Director
(231) 632-2626

Elizabeth Dunham, SEEDS Fundraising Director
(231) 883-7922