- Professor's Project Provides Environmental Education to Children and Families in Watauga County (2015-07-20)
- North Carolina Student Receives President’s Environmental Youth Award (2015-07-17)
- Brunswick Community College To Offer Nature & History Interpretive Guide Program (2015-07-16)
- What a Hoot! Texas Park Ranger Completes Her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification (2015-07-15)
- Community College Partners with N.C. Zoo on Outdoor Learning Course (2015-07-15)
- Teacher with Orange County Schools Earns Certification (2015-07-08)
- W. Kerr Scott USACE Rangers form Environmental Education Partnership with local Child Care Centers (2015-06-30)
- Registration Opens for 24th Annual Environmental Educators of North Carolina Conference (2015-06-26)
- Environmental Educators in Action: Keeping Workers and Wildlife Safe (2015-06-18)
- Camera Traps: Effectively Using Technology to Connect to Nature (2015-06-16)
- Jesse Pope named Grandfather Mountain Executive Director (2015-05-27)
- You May Be Surprised.... (2015-05-13)
- North Carolina Spotlighted in National Report on State Environmental Literacy Plans (2015-03-31)
- NC Teens Exhibit at the White House Science Fair! (2015-03-23)
- White House Launches “Every Kid in a Park” Initiative (2015-02-19)
- NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE ACT Introduced in Congress (2/11/2015)! (2015-02-11)
- New North Carolina Certified Environmental Educators Recognized (2014-12-05)
- Montreat EE Masters Program One of Four to Recieve First Special NAAEE Accreditation (2014-12-02)
- Gastonia Students Win President's Environmental Youth Award (2014-12-02)
- Allison Woods Program Using EE to Teach STEM Lessons (2014-12-02)
- Guide to Correlating Non-formal EE Programming in NC Now Available (2014-06-02)
- Congratulations to New NC Certified Environmental Educators! (2014-06-02)
- The Jennette's Pier "Sea Monster": One Whopper of a Teachable Moment (2014-05-22)
- EE Certification Workshop Leads to Solar-Powered Classroom, A DOE Video and a Tweet from the President! (2014-04-28)
- Raleigh's Exploris Middle School Receives 2014 Green Ribbon Schools Award (2014-04-28)
Professor's Project Provides Environmental Education to Children and Families in Watauga County
|Some of the ASU club members|
“I am even more committed to education and outreach on environmental issues than before. I feel buoyed by the growing network of educators who share this commitment, and feel more optimistic that we are collectively making a difference.”
To read more about Laura, visit the website here.
North Carolina Student Receives President’s Environmental Youth Award
Brunswick Community College To Offer Nature & History Interpretive Guide Program
|Did you know the BCC mascot is the Dolphins?|
The college also plans to encourage their program participants to enroll in the N.C. Environmental Education Certification program. The college has worked with the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs to ensure that most of the individual ecotourism classes, as well as most of the hours in the Interpretive Guide program, can also count as credit hours toward N.C. Environmental Education Certification.
For more information on the programs or to find out how to enroll, see the Brunswick Community College CHOICES publication (page 6, under "EcoTourism) or contact Marilyn Graham, Coordinator of the Sustainability through Innovation Leadership Center.
What a Hoot! Texas Park Ranger Completes Her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification
The owl had nested at the center in the past, but the center did not have the staff to provide regular programming. Kate not only led some of the programs but she developed interpretive materials and trained volunteers to lead programs on their own. “The program educated and gave the public an opportunity to see an owl raising her owlets. It taught the community to respect wildlife and how to observe wildlife properly,” Kate said.
To read more about Kate’s experiene in the program, go here.
Community College Partners with N.C. Zoo on Outdoor Learning Course
Participants will explore the importance of wondering alongside children as a way of encouraging and guiding exploration and discovery of the outdoor environment. The primary focus of the 5-hour course is to connect theory with practice using hands-on activities and informal discussions.
The course will meet from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the North Carolina Zoo. Participants can choose one of the following dates: Friday, June 26; Friday, July 10; Friday, July 24; Friday, Aug. 7; or Monday, Aug. 10. The cost is $25.
To learn more and to preregister, contact RCC at 336-633-0268. Preregistration is required.
Playful Pedagogy, part of the North Carolina Zoo’s Education Division, functions as an umbrella for the Zoo’s play programs.
(reprinted with permission from the RCC website)
Teacher with Orange County Schools Earns Certification
Highlights from Eric's experience in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification program include a Methods of Teaching Environmental Education workshop held at at Fort Macon State Park and working with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences UTOTES (Using the Outdoors to Teach Experiential Science) program. Through the UTOTES program, teachers at his school discovered how to get their students outside on their school grounds to learn while having fun. "I enjoyed learning from the museum staff and seeing our butterfly/hummingbird perennial garden come to life here on our school campus for all to enjoy and become more connected to nature," Eric says.
Read more about his experience in the certification program here.
W. Kerr Scott USACE Rangers form Environmental Education Partnership with local Child Care Centers
Registration Opens for 24th Annual Environmental Educators of North Carolina Conference
Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) will be hosting their 24th annual conference, Sound Choices in EE, at the Eastern 4-H Environmental Education and Conference Center, September 25-27, 2015.
Environmental Educators in Action: Keeping Workers and Wildlife Safe
Recently, Mecklenburg County Environmental Education Manager, Stephen Hutchinson, was invited to the City of Concord to teach local snake ecology and safety to 213 City of Concord Service Crew members. Sessions like these help outdoor workers safely perform their vital duties and also help protect wildlife. Thanks to Mandy Smith-Thompson, environmental educator with the City of Concord, for sharing.
Camera Traps: Effectively Using Technology to Connect to Nature
This group has now published its first lesson plan on using camera traps in (and outside of, of course!) the school classroom. This lesson was produced by the Kenan Fellows Program Students Discover Team who work with the N.C. State University Your Wild Life project and the Biodiversity Lab at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. You may recognize Kenan Fellow Kelsie Armentrout--she's also a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and talks about using camera traps in our EE Certification video! Also on the team are teachers Dave Glenn and Dayson Pasion. The project researchers are Dr. Roland Kays and Dr. Stephanie Schuttler.
Learn more about the Camera Trap Stakeout Project and view the lesson plan on the Students Discover website.
Jesse Pope named Grandfather Mountain Executive Director
LINVILLE, NC — After an exhaustive nine-month search, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation Board of Directors has named Jesse B. Pope Jr. of Newland the nonprofit’s next executive director.
You May Be Surprised....
For many years, the North Carolina program has trained full-time professionals in the environmental education field, such as park rangers and nature center educators. However, the the program also attracts some individuals who could be termed "non-traditional enrollees" to environmental education certification.
Why? Various reasons. Some work as volunteers or part-time staff at nature centers, parks and forests and want to be adequately prepared to instruct environmental education programs when called upon. Others are planning to work in environmental education as an "encore" or second career after retirement. Some are public or private classroom teachers and college professors who enroll to learn more about environmental education pedagogy and outdoor teaching techniques so they can incorporate them into traditional classroom settings.
So, don't assume this program is not for you! Find out more about some of your state's certified environmental educators at http://certifiedenvironmentaleducators.blogspot.com/
|Stan. Accountant during the week,|
environmental educator all the time.
(And he makes an awesome snow cone.)
North Carolina Spotlighted in National Report on State Environmental Literacy Plans
The North American Association for Environmental Education released an updated 2014 status report on State Environmental Literacy Plans this week. This report details the current status of environmental literacy plans throughout the U.S., highlighting several states with exemplary plans and providing recommendations for successful plan development.
NC Teens Exhibit at the White House Science Fair!
The “Bee Aware” team from North Carolina is working to help revitalize honey bee populations and to inform the public and businesses about the harmful effects of specific chemicals on honey bee populations and the harmful ramifications to human, animal and plant life. As part of their project, the group has presented to local garden clubs, Christmas tree farms, businesses, visitors, and tourists about honeybee science. They’ve also presented scientific information about honeybees to school across the region, educating more than a thousand High Country elementary schoolers on the importance of honeybees and what can be done to protect them. The Bee Award Team was awarded the $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant for their project, which will include the opening of a bee sanctuary in their community this spring.
More information about the Bee Aware team and all of their current projects in on their website, www.beeawarenc.org
and also in this article in the Mountain Times.
White House Launches “Every Kid in a Park” Initiative
Excerpt from the White House Fact Sheet, February 19, 2015
In the lead up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative is a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors. Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens instead of outside. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that young people now devote an average of more than seven hours a day to electronic media use, or about 53 hours a week – more than a full time job.
- Make it easy for schools and families to plan trips: The Administration will distribute information and resources to make it easy for teachers and families to identify nearby public lands and waters and to find programs that support youth outings.
- Provide transportation support to schools with the most need: As an integral part of this effort, the National Park Foundation (NPF) – the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service – is expanding and re-launching its Ticket to Ride program as Every Kid in a Park, which will award transportation grants for kids to visit parks, public lands and waters, focusing on schools that have the most need.
- Provide educational materials: The initiative will build on a wide range of educational programs and tools that the federal land management agencies already use. For example, NPS has re-launched a website with over 1,000 materials developed for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides. And a number of federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Education, and NPS participate in Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms and agency resources that connects students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways.
NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE ACT Introduced in Congress (2/11/2015)!
New North Carolina Certified Environmental Educators Recognized
|The honorees were all smiles!|
Honorees and guests from around the state attended a Nov. 22 ceremony at Embassy Suites in Cary. The keynote was given by Pat Simmons,
|Pat Simmons, incoming director of|
of the N.C. Zoo, gave the keynote
(and it was great).
Simmons thanked the honorees for their dedication and challenged them to continue their innovative collaborations that bring nonformal educators and classroom teachers together to educate children and adults about our state's natural resources. Her sentiments were echoed by Bill Cobey, Chairman of the State Board of Education, and Beverly Vance, Section Chief of K-12 Science for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Chairman Cobey noted: "The fact that we are honoring both classroom teachers and nonformal educators tonight is proof of the important partnership between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Instruction in promoting environmental literacy in our state."
Guests and honorees were able to see the premier of this short film that explains the certification program from the first-hand experiences of four certified educators. The film was created by Martin Kane with the Division of Parks and Recreation.
Other special guests at event included DENR Secretary John Skvarla, Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers, Division of Parks and Recreation Director Michael Murphy, Environmental Educators of North Carolina President Dr. Brad Daniel and North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers President-elect Sarah Kendrick.
The program also requires an environmental education partnership project that addresses a need in educators’ communities. These projects have had far-reaching impacts on communities throughout the state, providing projects such as interpretive trails, recycling programs, school and community gardens, outdoor classrooms and even small ecological restorations. Examples of these projects can be viewed on the EE Certification blog.
For more information about the program or to enroll, visit www.eenorthcarolina.org
Montreat EE Masters Program One of Four to Recieve First Special NAAEE Accreditation
This new NAAEE new initiative is designed to formally
college and university environmental education programs that are developing the kinds of environmental educators that are needed in the field. Graduates of these programs are experiencing curriculum and training that will translate to best practices in EE across a variety of learning contexts.
The other three programs are located at Eastern Kentucky University, Nova Southeastern University, and the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. We applaud their efforts and hope this is the start of expanding high quality EE in higher education. For more information, visit http://www.naaee.net/programs/highered.
Gastonia Students Win President's Environmental Youth Award
|Team of 3 Students: Katie Danis, Mary Hunter Russell & Grace Wynkoop|
Allison Woods Program Using EE to Teach STEM Lessons
Lake Portal offers STEM-based lessons at Allison Woods
Allison Woods wants to see the students of Iredell County on a boat, surrounded by science. A couple months ago, the Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center, situated off of Turnersburg Highway, began offering a program called Lake Portal, in which students, Scouts and adult groups can learn about the ecosystem of a pond on the property and take and test water samples while on a boat.
“This is a little more than just a lab exercise,” said Brain Fannon, education program coordinator at Allison Woods. “Because it’s an open-ended environment, the results are not pre-determined here. Not every group will have a cookie-cutter experience. This is actual research.”
Lake Portal is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) based program, with the goal to introduce students to using scientific tools to gather information about the world around them. The program is open to middle and high school groups, and Fannon said he hopes they find students who have never been on a boat or done hands-on experiments.
“We’re hoping to give students the chance to experience that, and certainly not all are going to go into oceanography or marine biology, but it broadens their experiences,” Fannon said. “It’s not just about teaching science. It’s about providing experiences that you don’t have in the Piedmont, North Carolina.”
Allison Woods is using a 24-foot “research vessel” for the offered excursions. Upon arriving, visiting groups learn about the interface between the land and the water, and then hop aboard. On the boat, Fannon aids in the use of an underwater camera and sonar unit to teach about how water changes with depth. Those on the field trip also take water samples and test for various factors.
“Most people just see lake sand ponds as a flat surface and never really think about what’s going on beneath that surface,” Fannon said. “With the tools on the boat, we open a window to look down.”
To schedule a Lake Portal trip, call Allison Woods at 704-873-5976. The program is designed for groups of eight to 20 people. Cost is $15 per person. Community and private groups are welcome, and two weeks to a month’s notice is needed. The whole program takes about an hour-and-a-half for a group of 10, and twice that for a group of 20.
Fannon, a former marine biologist who worked on commercial fishing boats in Alaska, said Lake Portal is “not intended to be just another field trip,” but rather a chance to see research “as it is done professionally.” “It’s not just asking the question,” Fannon said. “(It’s) how do we answer it? How do we look at our environment and get information?”
Guide to Correlating Non-formal EE Programming in NC Now Available
Sarah Ludwig, a student at the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment, compiled an excellent 2-page guide to assist environmental education centers and programs with correlating programs and classes to the N.C. Essential Standards and Common Core. The guide highlights why correlation is important for public school teachers, explains common terminology, points to helpful resources from the Dept. of Public Instruction, and outlines the correlation process, all specific to North Carolina.
Sarah developed this guide while doing research at Harris Lake County Park (Wake). It is based on feedback from many environmental educators, agencies and organizations, including the Environmental Educators of North Carolina, the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the Department of Public Instruction Science Section. The guide is available for print or download in our online resource database. Thank you Sarah!
Congratulations to New NC Certified Environmental Educators!
The North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program, managed by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, has certified more than 1,000 individuals. This 200-hour program recognizes professional development in environmental education and establishes standards for professional excellence in the field for formal and non-formal educators. It consists of workshops, field experiences, teaching experiences and an environmental education community partnership project. To more about the program, including the enrollment process, are available at http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/certification--about-the-program.html
|Marc, one of several newly certified North Carolina environmental educators|
The Jennette's Pier "Sea Monster": One Whopper of a Teachable Moment
"Rare Cannibal Fish Washes Up On A North Carolina Beach"
"Photo Shows Rare Cannibalistic Deep Sea Monster"
|Seemed like a simple tweet at the time...|
The lancetfish photo made the evening television news across North Carolina on May 16th. It is featured on Animal Planet's blog, at least two major US network news websites and is still being shared on news outlets around the world. (Just do a search for "lancetfish" to see what we mean.) Honestly, we thought it would get some retweets but had no idea it would fuel a social and online media frenzy. This event certainly made us learn a lot about the lancetfish, but it also reminded us once again of the power of social media and the importance of solid, science-based environmental education.
Here are some clarifications on some of the more interesting comments that have been made in reference to the lancetfish photo and our thoughts on some of the things we've learned.
Alepisaurus ferox can certainly be described as a ferocious looking fish, but it's an open ocean predator after all. Note that lancetfish have a large dorsal fin, but in this photo it was folded down. That along with the close-up of the head probably enhances the "scary sea monster" quality a bit, and we didn't really anticipate that when it was posted. Not a very strong or fast swimmer, lancetfish ambush their prey which consist of slow-moving fish, crabs, squid, etc., and sometimes other lancetfish (see "CANNIBAL," below). Our research shows no reports of lancetfish injuring humans. As a matter of fact, lancetfish are sometimes eaten by humans, but the flesh is said to be soft and not very palatable:
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/154820/0 and http://fishbio.com/field-notes/marine/washed-up
Well, that does make them sound scary. However, cannibalism (eating members of their own species) in animals is not uncommon, especially in fish. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC33168/
Sort of. It is rare to see a lancetfish on shore or near the shore, and the sighting at Nag's Head is certainly something to note. Lancetfish live in the open ocean--they are "pelagic," which means they live in the zone of the ocean that is not near the shore or bottom. While it is rare to find them on the beach, they may not be that rare in the open ocean. They are distributed worldwide and are sometimes taken as by-catch by fishing fleets. As a matter of fact, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences has lancetfish specimens in its research collection. When they turn up on shore it is likely they are dead or at least sick or injured and no longer able to swim well. This was the case with our lancetfish--Jennette's Pier reported that it washed up alive and was returned to the water, but washed back up again later: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/154820/0 ; and http://fishbio.com/field-notes/marine/washed-up
Yes, this is a fish story that went viral and we totally did not expect it. We were thinking "neat fish that washed up near Jennette's Pier" and much of the social media world saw it as a scary sea monster which started a flurry of retweets and shares. It shows the power of social media and the fact that all of us that do social media outreach need to be prepared in case this happens. We always need to think before we post and to make sure we have quick access to research and information to share with the news media and the public if something does go viral.
There were a lot of NOPES* and other negative comments on social media, not only in reference to the fish, but also in reference to North Carolina's beaches, the world's oceans and nature in general. We know a lot of it was in fun and not to be taken seriously, but this in itself can be a lesson to environmental educators that we have a continual duty to provide the public with accurate, up-to-date and balanced information about nature and the environment. We also have to make sure we do this in a clear and consistent manner that is based on the best science.
The lancetfish experience has reminded us of why awareness and sensitivity to the environment is the first, and possibly most important, component of environmental education. We hope this one wayward lancetfish helps us all increase the public's awareness of our oceans and the many amazing species that live in it.
Thanks to the following for their feedback and review of this post:
Paige Brown, From the Lab Bench at SciLogs, @
Dr. Wayne Starnes, Research Curator of Fishes, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
* "Nope" is an internet meme: "On the web, this emphatic expression is used to indicate fear, disgust or general distaste towards something" From knowyourmeme.com
Based on SumAll, our @NorthCarolinaEE Twitter account had a mention reach of more than 600,000 on that day.
EE Certification Workshop Leads to Solar-Powered Classroom, A DOE Video and a Tweet from the President!
Raleigh's Exploris Middle School Receives 2014 Green Ribbon Schools Award
|Exploris students participate in the Adopt-A-Stream program. Photo from City of Raleigh|
Exploris, a charter school located in downtown Raleigh, is one of 48 schools in the nation that are being honored this year.
Below is an excerpt from the profile of Exploris that is featured in the 2014 Green Ribbon Schools Highlights. See the Green Ribbon Schools page for the complete highlights document and more information on the program:
Exploris Middle School is a model global-education school in North Carolina. Exploris’ articulation of its core values ground the school in its approach to education. These are: Curiosity, Reflection, Craftsmanship, Engagement, Collaboration, Relationships, Connections to Nature, Social Empowerment, Innovation, and Balance.
In Exploris’ 16-year history, the school has been particularly interested in reducing its environmental impact. Exploris used EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to calculate a 25 percent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions. Trash has been reduced to about one bag per grade level through color-coded recycling bins, which include TerraCycle containers. In collaboration with the school’s landlords, an electrical timer was installed so that lights and the computer network automatically turn off during non-working hours. Additionally, new plumbing was installed in 2009 to prevent lead from being in the school’s drinking water, and a new white roof was installed in 2010 to help limit heat absorption in the building and the need for air conditioning during warmer months. Based on analysis of the water invoices since moving into the current building, Exploris has reduced domestic water usage by 19 percent, and has no irrigation water usage.
Exploris is dedicated to improving the health of its school’s students and staff. The school’s cleaning service cleans late at night, and stores no cleaning products at the school. If a pesticide must be used in the building, it is done after school hours to limit staff and student exposure to it. The school participates in numerous health and wellness programs, including the USDA's Healthier US School Challenge and a Farm to School program. Exploris also has an on-site vertical food garden, which supplies food to the community. The school’s students spend at least 120 minutes per week in supervised physical education, and at least 50 percent of the students' annual physical education takes place outdoors.
Exploris uses an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum. In alignment with the school’s core values, the bulk of each grade-level’s work centers on issues of environmental sustainability and STEM pathways. Teachers frame instruction around current, complex issues, which serve as a compelling lens for covering the curriculum standards. Guiding questions, two to three case studies, hands-on project work, and a culminating, public event serve to further engage students. Each student completes research, collaborates on group projects focusing on elements of design, and has access to primary documents and local experts, including former North Carolina Governor James Hunt, the staff of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the staff of Raleigh City Farms. Students are regular presenters at regional conferences, such as the North American Association of Environmental Educators, the North Carolina Service Learning Coalition, and the North Carolina Scaling STEM Conference.