DULUTH — Janett Perv, a student at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, is a multilingual Estonian high school teacher who studies environmental education.
The freshman graduate student has lived in four countries and traveled to 23 others as a professional basketball player for Martigues Sport Basket in France. She observed a lack of connection between people and their environment during her travels.
“Basketball has allowed me to travel a lot, and you just notice things,” Perv said. “I saw how people interacted with their environment. I didn’t like what I saw in France at all. They threw a lot of trash, the environment was just dirty and people didn’t care. “
Perv is a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship which placed her at UMD. The scholarship provides grants for individually designed study and research projects for English teaching assistant programs. Perv decided to pursue a master’s degree in education after quitting basketball, even though teaching was not his preferred career choice.
“I didn’t plan for this. It wasn’t my childhood dream to be a teacher, even though my mom and grandma were,” Perv said. “I didn’t know how to teach at all. It was terrifying. But, little by little, it grew inside me.”
Perv is developing a new national framework for outdoor education. Perv wants to reinvent teacher education in Estonia by applying environmental teaching practices to higher education.
“Non-formal and formal education are considered separate, so I’m trying to bridge the gap a bit more,” Perv said. “I feel like students are disconnected from nature. I thought maybe I could learn something in the States. We don’t have that kind of program back home.”
Perv is still in the early stages of creating a national framework for outdoor education, but hopes to refine his ideas and make it his final project before he graduates.
“I have this background in formal education and being indoors all the time is not motivating,” she said. “So having the chance to be outside and connect with the environment teaches you more and allows students to appreciate their environment more. They can learn things outside that they couldn’t. not learn within.”
As a new Duluthian, she said the outdoor community has surprised and inspired her in many ways.
“People here are so busy doing so many things outdoors, which is mind-boggling,” she said. “I haven’t seen a community that just says, ‘Let’s go outside’ and ‘Let’s take the dogs for a hike.’ It’s nice to see.”
When Perv’s scholarship is over, she is due to return to Estonia for two years, where she plans to bring her new project and new ideas to her classrooms.
This story originally contained a misspelling of Janett Perv’s name. It was updated at 2:16 p.m. (March 9) with the correct spelling. The News Tribune regrets the error.