Recent EE Related News
- National Environmental Education Foundation Launches "My Earth Changing Moments" Project (Thu, 14 Nov 2013)
- Turtle rehab center moves to bigger digs (Wed, 13 Nov 2013)
- Nature preschools and kindergartens: Getting kids moving--and learning (Mon, 07 Oct 2013)
- Beasley named ‘ocean hero' | StarNewsOnline.com (Thu, 01 Aug 2013)
- Wild South » NC Amphibian Bill Passed! (Mon, 01 Jul 2013)
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- Environmental Education Certification Recognition Ceremony November 22, 2014 (2014-07-17)
- 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)
- Kingsley Credits North Carolina EE Certification Program as Inspiration for Outdoor Preschool (2014-04-16)
- N.C. DPI Continues Tradition of Cooperation with Environmental Educators (2014-04-16)
- EE Centers, Parks, Science Museums Dominate Carolina Publishing Associates "Most Visited" List (2014-02-25)
- Author, Educator Sobel to Keynote Southeastern EE Alliance Annual Conference in Asheboro (2014-02-14)
- NC Beautiful Announces Windows of Opportunity Grant Recipients (2014-02-11)
- Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps Members Participate in MLK National Day of Service (2014-01-17)
- AmeriCorps program aims to improve environmental outreach in N.C.’s underserved areas (2013-12-10)
- A Great Loss to the Environmental Education Community (2013-10-31)
- Alamance Partnership for Children Opens Outdoor Learning Environment (2013-10-22)
- DENR awarded grant for 20 Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps members (2013-08-15)
- Environmental Education Is... (2013-08-06)
- N.C. Botanical Garden Program Featured in National STEM Magazine (2013-07-31)
- Environmental Educator in the Field (2013-07-30)
- Update: "STEM Consolidation" Would End Funding for NOAA Environmental Literacy Grants, other EE Grant Programs (2013-07-26)
- New Community EE Website and Guidelines Ready for Review and Feedback (2013-07-26)
- No Child Left Inside Act Reintroduced: Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Strengthen Environmental Education (2013-07-17)
- N. American Association for Environmental Education Conference Registration and Awards Nominations Now Open (2013-07-12)
- Environmental Education Quotable... (2013-07-12)
- N.C. Sea Grant Highlights North Carolina's Amazing Coast (2013-07-08)
The environmental education newsletter of the North Carolina
Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.
Environmental Education Certification Recognition Ceremony November 22, 2014
Mark your calendars! This ceremony will honor those certified since the last EE Certification Recognition Ceremony in 2010.
If you are being honored and have not sent in your RSVP card, please go to this link asap and let us know you will be attending. Note, the dinner and ceremony is free for those being honored, but there is a fee for guests.
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.
Kingsley Credits North Carolina EE Certification Program as Inspiration for Outdoor Preschool
|A "Mud Kitchen" in the Outdoor Learning Area|
N.C. DPI Continues Tradition of Cooperation with Environmental Educators
|N.C. DPI science consultants strategize with environmental and non-formal science educators from around the state.|
EE Centers, Parks, Science Museums Dominate Carolina Publishing Associates "Most Visited" List
The numbers are in...Carolina Publishing Associates has released it's list of the top 30 most-visited attractions in North Carolina. Eighteen of them are listed as N.C. Environmental Education Centers on our list and offer some type of environmental education and/or natural sciences programming for the public. (Facilities in bold are listed as N.C. Environmental Education Centers on www.eenorthcarolina.org)
1. Biltmore, Asheville, 1,210,138.
2. NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, 1,026,177.
3. North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, 739,943.
4. Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, 722,260.
5. Discovery Place, Charlotte, 705,845.
6. Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh. 648,450.
7. Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Kure Beach. 614,158.
8.Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, 489,123.
9. NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach, 447,892.
10. Museum of Life and Science, Durham, 421,095.
11. NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, 389, 612.
12. Jennette's Pier, Nags Head, 308,786.
13. North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville. 332,748.
14. Greensboro Science Center, 325,536.
15. NC Maritime Museums (Beaufort, Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC Maritime Museum at Southport), 325,921.
16. NC Museum of History, Raleigh. 288,800.
17. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 287,605.
18. NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island, Manteo, 275,141.
19. Fort Raleigh National Historic Park, Manteo, 264,942.
20. Grandfather Mountain, Linville, 314,127.
21. Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington, 211,724
22. Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock. 194,073.
23. Duke University Chapel, Durham, 182,215.
24. Tryon Palace, New Bern 181,350.
25. NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, 173,024.
26. Linville Caverns, Marion, 170,689.
27. Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, 146,900.
28. Cherokee Cultural Attractions, Cherokee, 145,778.
29. Morehead Planetarium, Chapel Hill, NC 142,135.
30. Mint Museums, Charlotte, 142,057.
Author, Educator Sobel to Keynote Southeastern EE Alliance Annual Conference in Asheboro
EENC is also proud to announce that well-known educator and author David Sobel will keynote the event! Sobel is Senior Faculty in the Education Department at Antioch University New England in Keene, NH and he consults and speaks widely on child development and place-based education. He has authored seven books and more than 60 articles focused on children and nature for educators, parents, environmentalists and school administrators in the last 25 years. In 2007, he was identified as one of the Daring Dozen educators in the United States by Edutopia magazine.
He has served on the editorial boards of Encounter, Community Works Journal and Orion and writes a regular column for Community Works Journal. His articles and essays have appeared in Orion, Encounter, Sierra, Sanctuary, Wondertime, Green Teacher, Play Rights, Harvard Education Letter and other publications. His articles and essays have been included in Father Nature, Education, Information and Transformation, Stories from Where We Live-The North Atlantic Coast; Place-based Education in a Global Age; and The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion published by The University of Chicago. His most recent books are Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators published by Stenhouse and Wild Play, Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors published by Sierra Books.
NC Beautiful Announces Windows of Opportunity Grant Recipients
Windows of Opportunity provides up to $1,000 grants to NC teachers to reward their creativity fostering environmental stewardship, leadership, and awareness and initiating a sense of community service. Since 1999, NC Beautiful has awarded tens of thousands of grant dollars to schools all across North Carolina—from the mountains to the coast. NC Beautiful Executive Director, Steve Vacendak, says that the goal of NC Beautiful is to annually offer a Windows of Opportunity grant in all 100 counties in North Carolina. “Promoting and fostering environmental stewardship is a state-wide commitment,” says Vacendak. “By rewarding our teachers throughout our state for their innovation and hard work, we can ensure that our children and grandchildren are participating in a project that sparks a lifelong interest in nature. They will appreciate this beautiful state even more for having had a teacher who went above and beyond to give them a hands-on, real world experience. We are proud to be a small part of that discovery.”
The Windows of Opportunity Grants were created to cultivate an appreciation of natural environments by helping children get out of school and into natural settings. The grants also build leadership awareness, develop environmental educational mentors and ambassadors, create materials and resources that can be used by other K-12 students, and develop a sustainable, outdoor program, which will continue well after the grant period ends.
Entries for next year’s Windows of Opportunity Grants will be accepted online starting July, 2014. For more information, visit www.ncbeautiful.org.
NC Beautiful has been part of the state’s environmental preservation community for over 40 years—supporting awareness, education and beautification efforts that affect our quality of life. Today, NC Beautiful concentrates on hands-on and merit-based programs designed to empower citizens to preserve the natural beauty of the state of North Carolina. Whether it’s school children building outdoor classrooms, graduate students developing cutting edge research, or a Boy Scout troop planting azaleas at an elder care facility, NC Beautiful makes it possible for North Carolinians to keep NC Beautiful.
|Celeste Maus, teacher at Perquimans High School in Hertford, accepts her Windows of Opportunity Grant award from NC Beautiful board member Tim Aydlett and NC Beautiful Executive Director Steve Vacendak.|
|Nancy Bryant||Burlington Christian Academy||Burlington|
|Tyler Mitchell||Alexander Central||Taylorsville|
|Lee Ann Smith||Glen Arden Elementary||Arden|
|Britta Gramer||Morganton Day School||Morganton|
|Mark Patton||Terry Sanford High School||Fayetteville|
|Rebecca Johnson and Rodney Metters||North Davidson Middle School||Lexington|
|Keith Stanek||Tyro Middle School||Lexington|
|Jake Pittillo||Clear Creek Elementary||Hendersonville|
|Richele Dunavent and Courtney Ruiz||Sugarloaf Elementary||Hendersonville|
|Kathy Bosiak||Lincolnton High School||Lincolnton|
|Tracy Rettig/Kim Kelleher||New Hope Elementary School||Chapel Hill|
|Carla Wilkins||Helena Elementary||Timberlake|
|Nancy Pepper||Green Valley Elementary||Boone|
|Sherry Maines||Glade Creek School||Ennice|
|Tricia Gaible||Sparta Elementary||Sparta|
|Tiffany Mayo||West Carteret High School||Morehead City|
|Paul Gainey||ASPIRE Program||New Bern|
|Alison Edwards||School for Creative Studies||Durham|
|Bess C. Adcock||Granville Central High School||Stem|
|Richele Dunavent, Courtney Ruiz||Sugarloaf Elementary||Hendersonville|
|Lisa Chestnutt||Mattamuskeet Early College Swan Quarter|
|Debra H. Jones||Clayton High School||Kinston|
|Cliff Hudson||Contentnea/Savannah School||Williamston|
|Amy Alexander||Riverside High School||Elizabeth City|
|Stacey Pierce||Perquimans Central School||Hertford|
|Celeste Wescott Maus||Perquimans High School||Hertford|
|Catherine Rohrbaugh||Perquimans County High School||Raleigh|
|Jennifer E. Schwachenwald||Holly Grove Middle School||Wake Forest|
|Jason Hunning||Dillard Drive Middle School||Raleigh|
|Heather Hale||Wake Forest Elementary||Raleigh|
Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps Members Participate in MLK National Day of Service
AmeriCorps program aims to improve environmental outreach in N.C.’s underserved areas
The 20 Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps Program members will serve as interpreters at state parks, tour guides at the state aquariums and other functions aimed at increasing environmental literacy and natural resource stewardship in rural and underserved communities.
“Educating people about the importance of the environment is a crucial part of our mission to improve customer service in DENR,” said N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Secretary John Skvarla, who spoke with the new AmeriCorps members during an orientation the department held this week. “This program enables us to put service members in areas where environmental programming would not otherwise exist. Increasing environmental literacy helps ensure we all have clean air, water and land for future generations.”
The Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps Program will be administered by the department’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. The Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps Program includes 20 service members and a program director, Abby Van de Bogert. The AmeriCorps program in DENR will be paid for using a $256,956 federal grant and $180,498 from the state agency. AmeriCorps is a domestic version of the Peace Corps. More than 5,000 people have served in North Carolina with AmeriCorps.
The new service members were trained by department staff during a three-day orientation at Haw River State Park in Browns Summit. Service members will work for about a year carrying out the following duties:
• Three members will lead tours, provide interpretive programs and presentations at the state’s coastal aquariums in Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher and Roanoke Island.
• Six members will provide interpretative programs, tours and educational presentations for visitors at six state parks, including New River State Park in Laurel Springs, Haw River State Park in Browns Summit, Eno River State Park in Durham, Carvers Creek State Park in Spring Lake, Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Seven Springs and Falls Lake State Recreation Area in Raleigh.
• Four members will host hands-on science lessons at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
• Two members will conduct research, create educational materials and use social media to communicate about the programs in the divisions of Air Quality and Water Resources. They will be based in Raleigh.
• One member will develop and conduct public outreach programs on estuaries and coastal ecology for the state Division of Coastal Management in Wilmington and another member will provide programs on coastal habitats for the Division of Marine Fisheries in Morehead City.
• One member will expand recycling materials and public outreach campaigns for the Office of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.
• Two members will lead field trips, workshops and outreach events on important natural areas and resources for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program and the Office of Land and Water Stewardship.
A Great Loss to the Environmental Education Community
January 12, 2014
|Triangle Land Conservancy and the Center for Human-Earth Restoration will host a hike on the new Walnut Hill Farm in part as a memorial to Ross Andrews on January 12, 2014 from 1 to 4 pm. See The Triangle Land Conservancy website for detail or call Randy Senzig, 919-270-9682.|
January 25, 2014
|The Partners for Environmental Justice, Walnut Creek Wetland Center and the Center for Human-Earth Restoration will host a memorial service for Ross Andrews at the Walnut Creek Wetland Center on January 25 from 1 to 4 pm.|
Alamance Partnership for Children Opens Outdoor Learning Environment
The area was designed the Natural Learning Initiative, a program of the N.C. State University’s College of Design. The project was initiated with funding from a grant from Shape NC, a partnership between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the N.C. Partnership for Children. Shape NC is a three-year, $3-million program aimed at childhood obesity. Read the full story in the Times-News, and this pdf gives brief overview of the OLE's goals and featured.
Natural playspaces and outdoor learning environments like this one are a growing trend and offer numerous health and academic benefits. For young children, they are also a great way to introduce environmental education and build on the essential awareness component.
Congratulations Alamance Partnership for Children on this great accomplishment!
DENR awarded grant for 20 Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps members
“Many North Carolina communities stand to benefit from the service projects we can accomplish with the help of these AmeriCorps members,” said John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “This program will enable DENR to more effectively reach our customers, empower these future leaders, and give them a greater sense of the value of public service.”
The 20 people joining DENR this fall are part of the Mountains to the Sea AmeriCorps Program, which is administered by DENR’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.
The program will place the AmeriCorps members in nine North Carolina counties to increase environmental literacy and natural resource stewardship among communities in rural and underserved areas. The AmeriCorps members will perform many duties, including organizing and conducting public workshops on fish habitat issues for the Division of Marine Fisheries, presenting programs on wetlands for the Division of Water Resources, and maintaining trails and removing invasive exotic plants in state parks.
The AmeriCorps members also will work with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina’s three state-operated aquariums, the divisions of Air Quality, Coastal Management and Environmental Assistance and Customer Service. Members also will work with the department’s Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program and the Office of Conservation, Planning and Community Affairs.
AmeriCorps is a domestic version of the Peace Corps. More than 5,000 AmeriCorps members have served in North Carolina since the program began in the early 1990s.
Reprint of N.C. DENR Press Release
Environmental Education Is...
“I would describe environmental education as more than just teaching a student (adult or child) about the natural world. I would broaden that definition. Environmental education is about using lessons structured around the natural world to pique a student’s interest in and concern for their environment, and to teach them to develop the ability, skills, and knowledge base to make educated decisions regarding the environmental issues of today and tomorrow.”
N.C. Botanical Garden Program Featured in National STEM Magazine
Article: Earth Partnership for Schools puts land restoration in the hands of teachers
The Earth Partnership for Schools Institute is also a Criteria I Workshop in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program. For more about the institute, contact Grant Parkins, NCBG Natural Science Educator email@example.com or visit http://ncbg.unc.edu/education-for-schools-and-teachers/
Environmental Educator in the Field
Environmental Educator in the Field: Cullowhee Native Plant Conference
By Joy Fields
As an environmental educator, I am constantly looking for ways to learn novel approaches to reach new audiences and help them relate the environment to how they work and play. With so many concerns pulling at our audiences, this can be difficult. Fortunately, the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., which I recently attended, provided me with a wealth of new information to include in programs I provide on riparian buffers and native plants.
The conference, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, offers network and education opportunities about native plants for the nursery trade, educators, landscape architects, master gardeners and others concerned about preserving America’s natural heritage. Educational opportunities from this year’s conference included, presentations, workshops and field trips that focused on mushrooms, native pollinators, maintaining curb appeal with native plants, edible natives and much more.
One highlight of the conference that was especially exciting to me as a gardener and an environmental educator was a presentation by Nancy Adamson with the Xerces Society, who spoke about how one in every three bites of food that we take requires pollinators. To produce vegetables and fruits, many plants require the help of pollinators to move pollen from one flower to another. With the non-native honey bee populations plummeting, it is very important to encourage native pollinators so commercial crops, and our backyard gardens, continue to produce vegetables and fruit. Many native pollinators rely on native plant species for habitat or food during times when agricultural crops may not be in bloom. By encouraging native plants in riparian buffers and hedgerows, we can ensure habitat for pollinators and foster their presence around our farms and gardens. This knowledge makes it much easier to address the economic benefits farmers and homeowners obtain by planting native plants along streams and hedgerows.
The Cullowhee Native Plant Conference Steering Committee values education and annually makes scholarships available to educators who may not otherwise be able to attend this informative meeting. I was the lucky recipient of one of those scholarships this year, and for that I am deeply grateful. As an educator for Stormwater SMART, I speak to diverse groups about the importance of using native plants in rain gardens and riparian buffers. I focus on native plants because they tend to have longer roots than European or Asian introductions, and they are able to survive without the application of fertilizers and pesticides, which protects our rivers and streams from pollution caused by excess application and runoff of chemicals or manures. The Cullowhee Native Plant Conference gave me additional tools to add to my communications to help landscapers, gardeners and farmers understand the importance of native plants and the economic benefits received by supporting our native pollinators.
Update: "STEM Consolidation" Would End Funding for NOAA Environmental Literacy Grants, other EE Grant Programs
U.S. House and Senate subcommittees are not looking favorably on the proposed STEM consolidation (see: Congressional Panels Dump on STEM Reshuffling Plan in AAAS Science Insider). While it is too early to confirm, this may mean that the federal environmental education funding may continue to operate at current levels. We'll continue to keep you updated as the process unfolds.
New Community EE Website and Guidelines Ready for Review and Feedback
This document will join the other NAAEE EE Guidelines as part of the organization's efforts to encourage best practices in the field. Last September, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and the Environmental Educators of North Carolina teamed together to host one of the Community EE Roundtables that provided input and guidance for the new guidelines.
Community EE Website
Community EE is an evolving practice that considers the value of intentional, authentic relationships with communities and environmental outcomes that consider community health and neighborhood wellness. This site was set up to collect your thoughts and feedback on Community EE to ensure the practice is inclusive and reflective of a broad range of perspective. Your constructive feedback is welcome. Please share this site with others you feel would have a stake in Community EE.
Community EE Guidelines Ready for Review
EECapacity encourages you to review the third draft of the Community EE Guidelines. As we continue to work through the development of the Guidelines we need your constructive feedback. Please follow the link below to take a look at current draft. You will notice a red link after each "effort". That link will take you to a survey where you can read the key character in more detail and contribute your thoughts. There are seven efforts (previously known as key characteristics) we believe lead to authentic relationships with communities, and ultimately to authentic learning and practice of EE with communities. Feel free to invite others in your circle to participate.
Community EE Guidelines Review Feedback
No Child Left Inside Act Reintroduced: Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Strengthen Environmental Education
Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Strengthen Environmental Education:
Reed, Kirk, Sarbanes, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce The No Child Left Inside Act
WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to reconnect more kids with nature and address critical environmental challenges, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are introducing legislation to strengthen and expand environmental education in America’s classrooms. The No Child Left Inside Act of 2013 will help expand environmental education in schools across the country by bringing locally developed, high-quality environmental education programs to more schools and providing federal assistance to states to develop and implement environmental literacy plans.
Studies show getting kids outside and teaching them about nature helps them raise achievement in other subjects and has important health benefits too. Yet studies also show the amount of time children now spend outdoors has declined significantly in the past 20 years. Today, many schools are being forced to scale back environmental programs and curtail outdoor activities.
“Teaching children about the environment and giving them a hands-on opportunity to experience nature makes them smarter and healthier. Environmental education should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools. This legislation will help reconnect more kids with nature and raise student achievement in core subjects like math, science, and reading,” said Senator Reed. “Environmental awareness should be second nature for our young people and protecting the environment is crucial to future economic growth.”
“To prepare American students to compete in the 21st century global economy, this bill uses an innovative approach to teaching science and bringing the benefits of outdoor activity to more children,” Senator Kirk said. “Our bill promotes hands-on learning and an integrated curriculum, while bolstering important science, technology, engineering and math education programs."
“Environmental education must be a national priority,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Hands-on, outdoor interaction with the environment enhances student achievement – not only in science, but also in reading, math, and social studies. By investing in education that will grow the next generation of innovators, scientists and environmental stewards, we will prepare our workforce of the future to meet the many economic, environmental, and energy-related challenges our country is facing.”
“This bill reflects a larger, overall responsibility to promote environmental stewardship across generations,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Incorporating environmental learning is a down payment on our future. Research shows that promoting a hands-on approach to teaching kids about the environment improves student achievement in science as well as reading, math and social studies – all which directly strengthens our global competitiveness.”
The No Child Left Inside Act would provide funds to encourage partnerships between school districts, colleges, parks, and non-profits and other community-based organizations to implement the improved curricula and provide professional development for teachers on the use of field-based, service, and experiential learning.
Additionally, the bill will add environmental education as an authorized activity under other traditional federal grant programs and require cooperation, joint planning, and reporting by federal agencies involved in environmental education.
NCLI is supported by over 50 million citizens from 2,200 local, regional, and national organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition, including the League of Conservation Voters, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the Outdoor Industry Association, as well as hundreds of colleges, universities, businesses, and health care organizations.
The bill numbers for the No Child Left Inside Act are S. 1306 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2702 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
N. American Association for Environmental Education Conference Registration and Awards Nominations Now Open
It’s time to register for the 2013 NAAEE conference in Baltimore (October 9-12). With prices lower than last year’s, you’ll want to make sure to join us for a diverse slate of thought-provoking keynoters, exciting concurrent sessions, outstanding workshops and field trips, and endless opportunities for networking and professional development.
Register at www.naaee.net/conference/registration
Conference information: www.naaee.net/conference
Exhibits and Ads
Promote your programs and resources, reach more than 1,000 environmental educators, and support NAAEE by purchasing your exhibit booths and program advertisements soon. Exhibit booth purchases include one free conference registration, so it’s a great deal and a wonderful way to interact directly with your primary target audience. And surely you want your ad noticed as every conference participant receives and reads the program!
Sign up online at www.naaee.net/conference/exhibits-ads
Session Notification Update
Review results have been sent to all conference proposal submitters; research symposium results will be sent soon. The online conference management system will reopen to all later this week. Session scheduling is underway and specific session dates and times will be announced and posted online within about a week.
2013 Call for Nominations: NAAEE Excellence in EE Awards
Nominations Deadline: August 16, 2013
Help NAAEE recognize individuals and organizations that excel in EE by nominating them for one of our annual awards, including our highest honor: the Walter E. Jeske Award.
The Call for Nominations is now open; the awards will be presented on October 12 at the Annual Awards Luncheon at the 2013 NAAEE Annual Conference. Online nomination forms are linked here:
Environmental Education Quotable...
[E]nvironmental education strives to further the understanding of the interconnectedness of the whole environment, both natural and artificial, through age appropriate knowledge sharing and exploration of nature.
N.C. Sea Grant Highlights North Carolina's Amazing Coast