- McCrory’s Environmental Department Connects NC Educators With Jobs (2016-01-21)
- NC Department of Public Instruction Hosts 5th Annual Meeting for Nonformal Educators (2015-12-14)
- NAAEE Hails History-Making Opportunities for Environmental Learning in Congressional Education Bill (2015-12-09)
- New K-12 Education Bill Passes House, Will Strengthen Environmental Education (2015-12-04)
- Partnership Assists Migrating Monarch Butterflies in Western North Carolina While Educating the Public (2015-11-19)
- Make That Viral Animal Video a Teachable Moment (2015-10-16)
- A New GIS River Basin Map Available to Educators (2015-09-21)
- Celebrate Take A Child Outside Week (2015-09-16)
- Kelsie Armentrout to Receive Governor's Conservation Achievement Award for Environmental Educator of the Year (2015-09-09)
- As school begins, let’s keep children in touch with nature (2015-09-02)
- Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators - Now Available (2015-08-24)
- Young NC Citizen Scientist Donates Valuable Specimen to Museum of Natural Sciences (2015-08-07)
- State Parks, Museum of Natural Sciences Partner to Make Kids "Dragonfly Detectives" (2015-08-06)
- Wake County Teacher Uses N.C. Environmental Education Certification to Benefit School and Community (2015-08-03)
- 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)
McCrory’s Environmental Department Connects NC Educators With Jobs
NC Department of Public Instruction Hosts 5th Annual Meeting for Nonformal Educators
This marks the fifth year for the meeting. Educators representing a wide variety of nonprofit and city, county, state and federal agencies and facilities, including, nature centers, science museums, gardens, arboretums, aquariums, state parks, the N.C. Forest Service, the Wildlife Resources Commission and Soil and Water Conservation Districts attended. The participants shared ways they can improve standards-based program offerings for schools and partner more effectively with teachers, school administrators and the Department of Public Instruction. “North Carolina has a unique partnership that encourages collaboration between schools, school districts, NC DPI and the nonformal education community to support science learning and environmental literacy,” said Debra Hall, elementary science consultant for the Department of Public Instruction.
The meeting provides an opportunity for educators to get updates on curriculum standards for NC DPI and instructs them on how to access support documents and resources to help them align their educational programs and field trips with the state’s essential standards for science. Participants heard from several guests speakers, including Renee Strnad with Extension Forestry at North Carolina State University who gave an overview of the North American Association’s Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education. These guidelines set professional standards for environmental literacy and work in concert with both national and state level educational standards.
Chris Goforth, the head of citizen science with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, spoke to the group on how citizen science can be used to engage classroom teachers and students in authentic science experiences. Tom Randolph, lead interpretation and education ranger with Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, discussed best practices for curriculum-based programs and field trips emphasizing hands-on, outdoor experiences for students and their connection to better classroom performance.
The meeting was held on the same day that the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act was signed into law. The Every Student Succeeds Act includes language that supports environmental education and environmental literacy programs. The act also supports hands-on learning” and “field-based or service learning” to enhance understanding of STEM subjects which will provide additional opportunities for environmental science education programs. “North Carolina has one of the strongest nonformal environmental education communities in country and the inclusion of field-based environmental science support in the Every Student Succeeds Act will further enhance the already diverse and effective environmental science programming in our state,” said Lisa Tolley, program manager with the Department of Environmental Quality.
NAAEE Hails History-Making Opportunities for Environmental Learning in Congressional Education Bill
North American Association for Environmental Education sees passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or ESEA) as big win, opening avenues for students and teachers in environmental and nature literacy.
New K-12 Education Bill Passes House, Will Strengthen Environmental Education
“ESSA is a tremendous victory for advocates of environmental education who’ve fought long and hard to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards with outdoor, hands-on learning programs,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for passing a comprehensive education reform package that has immense benefits for students, teachers and schools across the country.”
The environmental education provision contained in ESSA comes from the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI), a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Sarbanes that is designed to enhance American students’ environmental literacy. First introduced in 2007, NCLI was reintroduced this year in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Sarbanes and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) with the support of 41 original co-sponsors. It was also reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
NCLI would provide federal grant funding for teachers who design and implement environmental education programs in, and importantly, outside of the classroom. By encouraging new environmental curricula, the bill would also cultivate partnerships and strengthen relationships between school districts, colleges, environmental nonprofits, parks and other community-based organizations.
ESSA is expected to pass the Senate next week and advance to the President’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. In addition to improving environmental education, the bill contains a number of reforms that will help provide American students with a high-quality, twenty-first century education, including:
- Helping states improve low-performing schools and enhance teacher quality;
- Setting higher standards and improving learning outcomes for all students;
- Dedicating more funding to bolster STEM education, student health and literacy initiatives and afterschool programs;
- Identifying and acting on ways to close the achievement gap;
- Strengthening access to, and the quality of, early childhood education programs;
- Maintaining important information about student performance; and
- Providing greater funding flexibility to better support students and school.
Partnership Assists Migrating Monarch Butterflies in Western North Carolina While Educating the Public
Chelsea worked with Nina Veteto, the founder of Monarch Rescue, Tom Fanslow with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and other AmeriCorps Project Conserve members to establish the patch of milkweed that will aid the monarchs during fall migration.
The habitat is located on property managed by Super-Sod, a sod farm in Horse Shoe, North Carolina. It is protected by a conservation easement on about 340 acres, and a buffer easement on about three miles of the French Broad River. The property includes a common area that is not currently being utilized and is mowed regularly into a lawn. “This area provided the perfect location to plant a pollinator habitat. As monarchs lose habitat around the country, it is important to create new areas for them to feed, mate, and grow,” said Ms. Rath.
Make That Viral Animal Video a Teachable Moment
(*Remember the infamous Jennette's Pier lancetfish?)
A New GIS River Basin Map Available to Educators
The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs now provides an online GIS River Basin map for educators. The new interactive map allows you to explore your river basin or learn more about any of the 17 river basins in North Carolina. You can click on each basin to learn about the diversity of plants and animals found in our beautiful state.
There are more North Carolina River Basin resources at eenorthcarolina.org/riverbasins.html, including river basin lesson plans developed by North Carolina classroom teachers, nonformal educators and office staff. The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs welcomes new lesson plan or activity ideas based on the new GIS map or existing river basin materials. Please share your ideas with us on Twitter, Facebook or email Tracy Weidert, River Basin Education Program Manager at Tracy.Weidert@ncdenr.gov
Celebrate Take A Child Outside Week
The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs invites you to take part in a nationwide effort to connect children to the natural world. “Take a Child Outside” is designed to help children develop an appreciation for the outdoors by giving parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers information on nature activities and places to visit.
Take a Child Outside Week is held in conjunction with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and partner organizations throughout the U.S. and around the world. The program encourages all citizens to participate in outdoor activities from September 24-30, 2015.
Organizations and agencies across the state including parks, nature and science centers, museums, aquariums, botanical gardens, etc. are hosting events during the week. There are many opportunities to take your child, grandchild or students outdoors. You can visit the North Carolina Environmental Education Calendar to search for Take a Child Outside activities being offered across the state.
You can also participate by making a pledge to take a child outside and help them experience the natural world on the Take a Child Outside website. The program is designed to help break down obstacles that keep children from discovering the natural world, and to provide resources and recreational activities for exploring local habitats.
Many state attractions and other environmental education centers have events planned. You can view all the events and programs going on during the week on the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs website.
Here are a few highlights of some of the Take a Child Outside Events hosted by state agencies:
N.C. State Parks will feature special events and ranger-led programs including fun hikes and nature education programs that introduce children and families to the outdoors. Children will be working towards earning their North Carolina Junior Ranger certificate and patch at some parks. State Parks offer many activities for memories to be made including picnicking, canoeing, camping and hiking. Check out all of the Take a Child Outside events happening at State Parks online at http://www.ncparks.gov/find-an-activity/take-child-outside-week
The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is hosting a Salt Marsh and Crabbing Program for ages 7 and up. This hands-on, outdoor program introduces participants to the challenge of catching blue crabs. Lessons in crab biology and crabbing equipment prepare participants for an exciting expedition through the salt marsh to catch and release crabs. For more information, visit http://reservations.ncaquariums.com/fortfisher/Info.aspx?EventID=12
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is hosting seven Wildlife Expos and other events to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 26, at various locations from Corolla to Brevard. There will be free, family-oriented events that highlight the state’s extraordinary hunting and fishing heritage and remarkable wildlife conservation efforts through the years. Interactive activities and demonstrations vary for each event, but all provide unique opportunities for participants of all ages to connect with nature and test their outdoors skills. For more information visit the commission’s website at
The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences' Prairie Ridge EcoStation invites families to explore the outdoors on Saturday, September 26, 2015. Come at any time during the event to visit the Nature PlaySpace to enjoy some hands-on nature activities. Activities also include: 10:00 am, Nature Stories, in the amphitheater; 10:30 am, Citizen Science Saturday walk, entrance kiosk (best for children 8 years+); 11:15, Nature Stories-Music, in the amphitheater. For information contact: Cathy Fergen at Cathy.Fergen@naturalsciences.org or 919-707-8878.
The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is proud to join with the Museum of Natural Sciences in this effort, and believes children want to embrace and explore their world. This exploration shapes their lifelong relationship with their parents and the environment. Stress reduction, greater physical health, more creativity and a sense of play are just some of the many benefits for a family when it invites nature into their lives. Take a Child Outside is held annually, September 24-30.
Be sure to check out the environmental education calendar for events going on near you on the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' website. You can search the calendar using your zip code or city.
Kelsie Armentrout to Receive Governor's Conservation Achievement Award for Environmental Educator of the Year
Kelsie says her experiences with the eMammal program helped engage her students in science. “Having the opportunity for the students to see their research and their data collection directly impact actual scientists can really open a whole new door for them,” she said.
As school begins, let’s keep children in touch with nature
From Amber Veverka, a master naturalist and N.C. certified environmental educator in Charlotte:
The kindergarteners that day were wide-eyed.
We’d gathered in a courtyard outside their Charlotte classroom for a hands-on lesson in investigating the natural world. I was a volunteer, eager to explore alongside them.
“What is nature?” I asked the kids seated around me. They peppered the air with their answers. But the one I can’t forget was from the little girl in ponytails who said, solemnly, “Nature is something you should never, ever touch.”
If I ever needed confirmation that we – and our children – are alienated from the natural world, that little girl’s response supplied it.
School is back in session, and families like mine are again swept along in a rush of drop-offs, bus rides and after-school activities. If we aren’t intentional, the school year tide can pull all of us into an indoor life. It’s dark in the morning. Kids are loaded down with homework at night. In between, they’re in classrooms and we’re in offices.
We’re born loving creation, recognizing instinctively that we belong in the grass, under the trees, within earshot of birdsong. But the entire arc of our culture – particularly the culture of an overscheduled, urban center such as Charlotte – veers away from these first loves. We get jobs. We get busy. We live our days in cubicles and cars.
I urge all of us to make this school year one in which we and our children spend more time in nature. It’s not always easy. But it’s possible...
Read the rest here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article32660136.html#storylink=cpy
Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators - Now Available
The second edition of Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators has been released through the North American Association for Environmental Education, the University of Florida and Cornell University.
Environmental educators are joining forces with youth and community development professionals; museums, zoos, and botanical gardens; and urban green space managers and planners to come up with new practices that reflect societal concerns. Many of these practices occur outside of the classroom, involve youth and elders working together, and engage a diversity of professionals and participants in urban as well as suburban and rural communities.
New chapters may be added as new practices emerge and opportunities for public online feedback on individual chapters are planned.
Young NC Citizen Scientist Donates Valuable Specimen to Museum of Natural Sciences
Last Friday (7/31/2015), the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences Crustacean Collection received an exciting and important donation: an Asian tiger shrimp, Penaeus monodon. The donation was made by Jimmy Epps, who caught the shrimp in autumn 2014 in his casting net in Bogue Sound, Carteret Co., NC. Jimmy officially recorded his catch via the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database.
The specimen is a rare red-striped morph, which, in combination with its fantastic provenance data, is an invaluable addition to the Collection as it provides critical data for conservation efforts, and will undoubtedly play an important role in education and outreach about invasive species at and beyond the Museum.
The Asian tiger shrimp is native to tropical marine habitats of the Indo-West Pacific, but as a staple of global aqua-farming beginning in the late 1960s, has been widely introduced beyond the bounds of its native range. The species was first reported from coastal waters of the southeastern U.S. in
1988 following the escape of ~2,000 shrimp from a SC aquaculture facility. Hundreds of Asian tiger shrimp were captured in trawl nets during the first couple of months post-escape. Interestingly, the species subsequently went unreported from coastal U.S. waters for an 18 year stretch, resurfacing off the Gulf coast of Alabama in 2006. Reports since the 2006 Alabama sighting indicate that the Asian tiger shrimp has spread extensively along southeastern and Gulf coasts of the U.S., from North Carolina to Texas (http://www.wsj.com/news/interactive/SHRIMP0907).
State Parks, Museum of Natural Sciences Partner to Make Kids "Dragonfly Detectives"
Wake County Teacher Uses N.C. Environmental Education Certification to Benefit School and Community
When considering options for his project, Bill noticed that there were a lot of people using the high school from the community. “The school is a traditional high school but also houses a public library, night classes and summer classes creating a very active community use situation,” Bill said. He saw this as an opportunity to educate people about the plants and landscape of the school while providing a place to teach students about native plants and their uses.
Placards were used to label the plants and include the common and scientific names and information about how the plants are used by both people and animals. An outdoor classroom area was also constructed for teaching in the arboretum and for use by Athens Drive and Wake Technical Community College teachers. The classroom area is adjacent to the walkway and provides a quiet place to learn and teach.
Bill’s enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors isn’t new. He discovered his love for the outdoors at an early age through his parents. “I learned to love the outdoors at an early age camping with my parents at Julian Price Park along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We often took weekends to camp, hike and canoe. My parents were both avid birders and my dad took me on canoe trips all through my teens. I credit my folks with my love of the outdoors and educating people about the need for preserving it,” he said.
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.