MARQUETTE, Mich.— Northern Michigan University professor Tawni Ferrarini is the inaugural recipient of the National Association of Economic Educator's Abbejean Kehler Award. Kehler was chair of the NAEE technology committee for several years and continued to serve on the committee until her death in 2009. The award honors an NAEE member who is instrumental in promoting the use of technology to improve the delivery of economic education programs and build a stronger network for educators.

“This isn’t just an individual award. It places NMU on the national map for one of the things we’ve gained a reputation for—technology,” said Ferrarini. “One of the valuable lessons I learned from Abbejean was to question not only how to use technology, but why. You need to think it through strategically and have a strong rationale for supporting it. Will it have a significant impact? Will it at least complement, if not be superior, to the old ways of doing things? I apply those lessons every day.”

Ferrarini said economics was the first NMU department to offer an online minor. When she joined the faculty in 1998, one of her early tasks was resurrecting the NMU Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, which had operated on campus from 1979-97.

“The Michigan Council on Economic Education wanted to revitalize it in order to serve schools and teachers in the Upper Peninsula,” she recalled. “But everything had been put in a closet. That was our humble beginning for re-establishing the center.”

The CEEE is a grant-supported entity that is nearing the end of its seven-year funding cycle. It is dedicated to advancing economic literacy in the state and region through K-12 educator training programs, professional development workshops, graduate courses, outcomes assessment, standards-based educational materials and peer-reviewed products. Technology plays a major role in the center’s services, from Webinars to links to relevant Web resources.

In 2008, Ferrarini was appointed as NMU’s Sam M. Cohodas Professor for economic development in the Upper Peninsula. She works with the campus community and regional entities to research economic activity that businesses and organizations can use in developing plans for enhancing the U.P. economy.  

Ferrarini was recognized at the annual conference of the NAEE and the Council for Economic Education in Washington, D.C. She previously received the 2009 Economics Educator of the Year Award from the Michigan Council on Economic Education.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director