A St. Paul teacher who has preached the value of using forests as a classroom was chosen Wednesday for a national honor by the environmental education program, Project Learning Tree.

Karen Christenson, a science teacher at St. Anthony Park Elementary, was one of five teachers to be named a 2014 Outstanding Educator. She is the first Minnesotan to win the award since 2008.

According to Project Learning Tree, Christenson uses schoolyard safaris and other activities to "introduce students to hands-on experiences and outdoor exploration."

In 2013, 87 percent of St. Anthony Park students tested as proficient in science.

Christenson taught previously at Bruce Vento Elementary on the East Side.

In addition to her St. Paul duties, Christenson has sought to inspire in teachers statewide a passion for outdoors-based learning as part of the Minnesota School Forest Program.

She is to be honored in May at a Project Learning Tree conference in Traverse City, Mich.