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)
- 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 at Recent Ceremony (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)
- 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)
The environmental education newsletter of the North Carolina
Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.
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 at Recent Ceremony
|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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.