Marijke Hecht is currently a PhD student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Science and Policy program. She is interested in how the natural world can best be used as a platform for student exploration of science, art, and other disciplines in the 21st Century. Her research interests include examining how to build effective partnerships between schools and informal educational organizations and how to develop organizational practices that lead to more effective teaching.
Before entering graduate school Marijke was the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s Director of Education where she led efforts to inspire and engage diverse audiences in environmental education. Working with an amazing team of educators, she engaged 1,000 school children, 500 campers, and hundreds of families annually in exploration and inquiry using Pittsburgh parks as classrooms. Marijke was also the project manager for the effort to rebuild the Frick Environmental Center, a $19M project designed to meet Living Building Challenge and LEED Platinum standards. The center opened in 2016 and will provide greater opportunities to bring children and adults to Pittsburgh’s rich parks to learn, play, and volunteer.
Marijke previously served as the TreeVitalize Pittsburgh Director and was the first Executive Director of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association during the stream’s $7.7 million aquatic ecosystem restoration project. Earlier in her career, she was a Field Supervisor with The Nature Conservancy of New York and a middle school and high school science teacher in New York City public schools.
Marijke was awarded the 2015 Leadership in STEM Education award by the Carnegie Science Center. She also received two 40 Under 40 awards: one from Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project & Pittsburgh Magazine; the other for statewide leadership in the environmental field from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Marijke is personally committed to Pittsburgh’s revitalization; she was a founding board member of the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park and is a current board member of The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health and Landforce.