- DEQ to launch new high school curriculum focused on air quality (2017-04-18)
- The Hunt for the Great White Shark (2017-04-07)
- The Department of Environmental Quality Encourages You to Celebrate Earth Day throughout the month of April! (2017-04-05)
- Educator Spotlight: Rhonda Sturgill (2017-04-04)
- DEQ Partners with NCSU to Offer Environmental Education Credits (2017-03-30)
- CTNC AmeriCorps Member Completes NC Environmental Education Certification (2017-03-10)
- Environmental Educator - What Does That Mean? (2017-03-06)
- AmeriCorps Member Expands Service With EE Certification (2017-02-27)
- Wildlife Educator Completes Her Environmental Education Certification (2017-02-24)
- Educator Spotlight: Sara English (2017-02-06)
- Educator Spotlight: Aaron Sebens (2017-01-24)
- Educator Spotlight: Erin Harrison (2017-01-13)
- Teens & 20s Writer Plans to Earn Her N.C. Environmental Education Certification During Gap Year (2017-01-11)
- Collaboration Between Departments Attracts Record Number to 6th Annual Nonformal Educators Meeting (2016-12-14)
- Winter Lunchtime Speaker Series Kicks Off Next Week (2016-12-02)
- Educator Spotlight: Lindsey Purvis (2016-12-01)
- Educator Spotlight: Erica Connery (2016-11-28)
- Educator Spotlight: Lindsey Baker (2016-11-21)
- Educator Spotlight: Jessica Stitt (2016-11-09)
- Paid Summer Internships Available with DEQ and DNCR: Many EE and Public Outreach Opportunities (2016-11-04)
- Educator Spotlight: Michael Wood (2016-11-02)
- Emilee Mroz - Educator Spotlight (2016-10-31)
- USDE Releases Guidance on ESSA Grant Program: Environmental Education is Part of a Well-Rounded Education (2016-10-21)
- Colburn Earth Science Museum Rebranded as "Asheville Museum of Science": Soft Opening November 11th (2016-10-21)
- Educator Spotlight: Crissy Neville (2016-10-17)
DEQ to launch new high school curriculum focused on air quality
The Hunt for the Great White Shark
By Dee Lupton
Deputy Director, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Great White Shark - these three words spark fear and excitement whether you are a beachgoer, fishermen, marine biologist, or someone who follows Global Shark Tracker to see where white sharks tagged by OCEARCH are located – the most famous being Mary Lee.
Recently, I got to go out on an OCEARCH expedition to see how great white shark tracking is done.
OCEARCH is a non-profit group that generates scientific data through tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species, such as great white and tiger sharks. When Chris Fischer, OCEARCH founding chairman and expedition leader spoke at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in January, he contacted the Division of Marine Fisheries to discuss possible locations for a base of operations in North Carolina and the types of permits that would be needed. Kathy Rawls, the division’s Fisheries Management Section chief, and I jumped at an invitation to join OCEARCH’s Lowcountry Expedition based out of Hilton Head, S.C.
The excitement and anticipation leading up to the trip is difficult to describe. The phrase that kept going through my mind is, ‘This is Cool’. Anyone my age who grew up watching ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’, can quote every line in the movie ‘Jaws’, and pursued a career in marine biology, understands the feeling.
The trip began with transit, via Zodiac, from shore to the OCEARCH vessel, anchored in Port Royal Sound. It was exhilarating and reminiscent of TV nature documentaries showing scientists bobbing up and down on the sea as they go to their area to study. Once on the vessel, we were greeted by OCEARCH staff, given a safety briefing, and toured the vessel.
The OCEARCH team explained their techniques used to catch a white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The overall health of the shark is paramount. They use veteran OCEARCH fishermen to catch the sharks with chumming, handlines and circle hooks. When a shark is caught, the OCEARCH vessel lowers a hydraulically operated platform into the water. Sharks are carefully moved to the platform and then a saltwater hose is placed in the shark’s mouth to continuously pump saltwater through the shark’s gills so it can breathe. The platform allows scientists to measure, identify the sex, tag (acoustic and satellite), and take blood and fin clip samples while the shark remains on the platform. Total time the shark is out of water on the platform is 15 minutes.
The goal of OCEARCH is to provide a venue for a team of collaborating scientists to tag mature white sharks and gather data on the ecology, physiology, and behavior of white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. White sharks are the ocean’s apex predator. They help keep the ocean in balance and play a significant role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Policy managers use the scientific information gained through research to help manage and conserve these fish.
The most inspiring part of the day was to see young undergraduate and graduate students participating in these research projects. Their enthusiasm was rejuvenating. It reminded me why I entered the field of marine biology in the first place.
By the end of the expedition on March 15, the Lowcountry Expedition had tagged two white sharks (Hilton, a mature male; and Savannah, an immature female) and two tiger sharks (Weimar, a mature male; and Beaufort, an immature male). Hilton and Weimar were tagged on the same day.
“It’s very unusual for us to see tiger sharks and white sharks at the same place,” Fischer said. “We’re probably in an area here where two worlds are colliding. Tiger sharks like warmer temperatures and white sharks like cooler temperatures.”
Although OCEARCH did not catch and tag a shark on the day we joined the Lowcountry Expedition, the experience is one that will never be forgotten. Not many people will ever be able to say that they once participated in an organized white shark tagging research project. I hope that one day OCEARCH will consider an Expedition off North Carolina.
I think “Graveyard of the Atlantic Expedition” has a nice ring to it.
The Department of Environmental Quality Encourages You to Celebrate Earth Day throughout the month of April!
Nature hikes, birding, stream clean-ups, festivals and more await those who want to explore and learn about North Carolina’s unique environment. The public can also follow and share events, environmental education news and interesting nature stories on Twitter and Facebook by following and using the hashtag #NCEarthDay. Many of these Earth Day events are also part of the N.C. Science Festival, which runs from April 7 until April 23. For more information about N.C. Science Festival events near you, see ncsciencefestival.org
Department of Environmental Quality employees will be volunteering their time on Earth Day as well. The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is coordinating an Earth Day volunteer event on Friday, April 21. Raleigh area employees will be working in the morning with ecology and botany students at Fred J. Carnage GT/Magnet School to spruce up the school grounds and removing invasive plant species in the afternoon at Walnut Creek Wetland Center.
Educator Spotlight: Rhonda Sturgill
Sturgill puts out a residual fire on the base of a
longleaf pine tree with sandy soil after a control burn.
DEQ Partners with NCSU to Offer Environmental Education Credits
Beginning this 2017-2018 academic year, the N.C. State College of Natural Resources will partner with the N.C. State College of Education to offer two courses in environmental education--Environmental Education Teaching Methods and Environmental Education in Practice.
CTNC AmeriCorps Member Completes NC Environmental Education Certification
Environmental Educator - What Does That Mean?
When someone asks me what I do, I have to choose my words carefully. How can I explain what I do within 2 minutes or less without losing their attention and completely confusing them? My usual response is, "I'm an AmeriCorps member serving at the Piedmont Triad Regional Council as an environmental educator and outreach coordinator for their Stormwater SMART program *and cue deep breath* which is made possible through a partnership by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the NC Commission on Volunteerism." After I've just spewed out everything I could think to best explain my position, I usually look at their face and see an expression of "I have no idea what you just said, but I'm going to smile and nod anyway!" You know what? That's fine, because environmental education is truly a complex subject to try to explain, especially since it can be interpreted differently from one person to the next. So, I'm going to try to explain to you what being an environmental educator means to me.
|That's me a year ago holding a leucistic red-talked hawk|
Over 2 years ago, I packed up my bags and traveled over 900 miles away from my home in New Jersey to a college town in the mountains of North Carolina. It was here that I had finally found my niche. For the next two years, I majored in wildlife biology with a concentration in wildlife rehabilitation and got plenty of exposure to environmental educational programs. I provided programs mostly focusing on wildlife, conservation, and human impact on the wildlife found in North Carolina. Now, how did I go from talking about animals to stormwater and pollution? Very easily! You see, once you have an understanding that everything in the environment is connected (i.e. wildlife, humans, natural resources), you want others to be able to make that connection as well. Although my initial passion was with wildlife, I soon realized that educating people about the environment as a whole (especially water quality) was the bigger picture at hand.
|That's me now educating boy scouts about pollution and runoff|
Click here to learn more about environmental education in North Carolina!
AmeriCorps Member, Environmental Educator Stormwater SMART Outreach Coordinator
PTRC Regional Planning Department
AmeriCorps Member Expands Service With EE Certification
Barbara credits the EE Certification workshops and classes with giving her a variety of fun activity ideas strategies for using outdoor and nature play with children, as well as giving her a lot of nature and environment content knowledge.
Barbara recalls one memorable moment at the East Durham Children's Initiative: "I brought a corn snake to a program with the East Durham Children's Initiative. We talked about reptiles, what makes an animal a reptile, what adaptation reptiles have, and why snakes are important and beneficial to our ecosystem and then the kids got to touch the snake. After the program, I was packing everything up, several of the kids who'd been scared of the snake wanted to see it again. One little boy just sat there very gently petting the snake with one finger for several minutes. Seeing that change in how he related to the animal in just one class really stands out to me."
For her project, she developed and facilitated a series of programs with the East Durham Children's Initiative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) summer program that consisted of eight programs for their middle and elementary school students with hands-on activities including meeting a corn snake, making reptiles out of model magic, and learning to use binoculars. The last week Goldentyer took the children out to Horton Grove Nature Preserve for a field exploration. "The East Durham Children's Initiative operates in a low income part of East Durham and many of kids had never been to a nature preserve before, so I think that experience alone, made a huge difference."
Wildlife Educator Completes Her Environmental Education Certification
Frew says her favorite part of the certification program was participating in the instructional workshops. “I enjoyed traveling across the state meeting other educators and learning innovative ways to engage audiences.” She says the experience in the program that stands out the most for her was participating in the Sea Turtle Exploration Workshop at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “It was my first time going to the aquarium and we got to watch the staff feed the animals at the top of one of the tanks. If it wasn’t for the certification program, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”
For her community partnership project, Frew developed a curriculum guide for the Piedmont Wildlife Center that addresses wildlife conservation and highlights impacts on wildlife and things people of all ages can do to benefit wildlife such as recycling, building nest boxes or creating backyard habitats. Educators at Piedmont Wildlife Center were trained to use the material in their education programs.
Frew says the certification program broadened her knowledge of effective ways to teach environmental education and skills for developing and implementing programs for a wide variety of audiences. “I feel more confident in my ability to engage audiences and the resources I received from workshops are invaluable.”
Although Frew, who has a background in wildlife, had an understanding of most environmental issues coming into the certification, she says the program helped her build on that knowledge and learn more about how to present those issues to audiences in an effective way. “I feel that I am more prepared to teach others about environmental issues and the ways in which people can help prevent or solve those issues,” says Frew.
Educator Spotlight: Sara English
When she isn’t working, English enjoys being outside anywhere with her dog and significant other. She loves science of all kinds, plays drums in a silly garage rock band called Solar Cat, and loves to read books, both fiction and nonfiction.
Educator Spotlight: Aaron Sebens
When asked if the certification program changed his approach to teaching Sebens said that he thinks about formal and informal educational experiences in different ways and considers ways to remove obstacles to environmental education not just for students but for teachers as well.
Educator Spotlight: Erin Harrison
Erin Harrison, a former AmeriCorps member currently working as a Water Conservation and Efficiency Analyst for the City of Durham, recently completed her N.C. Environmental Education Certification.
Learn more about Eno River State Park on their website at http://www.ncparks.gov/eno-river-state-park
Information about the Conservation Trust for North Carolina's AmeriCorps Program, visit their site at http://www.ctnc.org/connect/ctnc-americorps/
Teens & 20s Writer Plans to Earn Her N.C. Environmental Education Certification During Gap Year
|Chandler Holland in the Discovery Room at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences|
Photograph by Michael Holland
Chandler Holland, a Teens & 20s writer for the Burlington Times-News is in her senior year of homeschooling and plans to complete the N.C. Environmental Education Certification during her gap year before attending Warren Wilson College with a merit-based scholarship.
"The fact that I will spend my “Gap Year” working toward obtaining my EE certification no doubt played a significant role in my acceptance at the school of my choice in their early decision process, as well as being awarded a merit scholarship. Warren Wilson College has a strong program that will give me the real-world skills to begin a successful career committed to environmental education," Holland said.
In addition to writing a monthly article for the Teens & 20s column on a variety of topics including sustainability and the environment, Holland is a docent in the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Discovery Room. She plans to officially enroll in the program later this month when she turns 18 and will count her hours volunteering as a docent towards her certification.
The N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program is offered by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. To learn more about the program, visit the office’s website at www.eenorthcarolina.org
Environmental education: Certification program isn’t just for classroom teachershttp://teensandtwenties.com/environmental-education-certification-program-isnt-just-for-classroom-teachers/
Collaboration Between Departments Attracts Record Number to 6th Annual Nonformal Educators Meeting
The meeting provides an opportunity for educators to get updates on curriculum standards from NCDPI and resources to help align their educational programs and field trips with the state’s essential standards for science. Participants shared school program and teacher professional development success stories.
Lisa Tolley, program manager with the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs wasn’t surprised by the high numbers of attendees. “North Carolina has one of the strongest nonformal science communities in the country and these educators and facilities provide a wealth of programming to students and profession development to teachers across the state. These partnerships as a way to ensure students are exposed to hands-on, field-based learning that enhance student’s understanding of STEM subjects and meet environmental literacy goals, which are specifically noted in the new Every Student Succeeds Act.”
Check out the storify of the meeting.
Winter Lunchtime Speaker Series Kicks Off Next Week
The guest lecture series is hosted by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and features professionals from a wide range of environmental and science backgrounds representing local and state agencies, colleges and universities and other organizations throughout the state.
|John Gerwin, NC Museum of Natural Sciences|
Educator Spotlight: Lindsey Purvis
Educator Spotlight: Erica Connery
Erica Connery recently earned her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. Connery is a Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) AmeriCorps member at the N.C. Coastal Federation’s Northeast office in Wanchese.
Educator Spotlight: Lindsey Baker
Baker developed the N.C. State Park Photo Scavenger Hunt Challenge for her community partnership project, a requirement for environmental education certification. Baker started the program hoping it would be a way to use technology to help get her peers outdoors and into state parks. What began as a small grant and project in 2013 grew into a statewide initiative with the help of Friends of State Parks. The program has been implemented in every state park and recreation area in North Carolina. Baker says the challenge was designed to be a zero-impact, self-guided activity that encourages park visitors of all ages and backgrounds to get outside and engage with nature. “This is a project that utilizes the spirit of competition with a sense of adventure. Anyone can use any kind of camera and in any one park, you must take photos of 12 out of 15 categories which include flora, fauna, a selfie with a Ranger, and a beautiful overlook, etc.”
Educator Spotlight: Jessica Stitt
Stitt says her favorite part about earning her certification was traveling to different state parks and recreation areas to attend workshops. “I have enjoyed gaining more experience as an educator, I have already used the materials from each and every one of the workshops.” She plans to visit more parks while working on her continuing education requirement for the program.
Paid Summer Internships Available with DEQ and DNCR: Many EE and Public Outreach Opportunities
Permanent North Carolina residents attending a college, university, law school, community college or technical institute in North Carolina or a North Carolina resident attending an equivalent institution out of state are eligible to apply for these internships.
Interns work 40 hours a week for a 10-week period, earning $8.25 an hour. They participate in meetings, educational tours and other activities designed to broaden their perspective of public service and state government. There are up to 80 internship positions available during the summer at various state agencies located throughout North Carolina.
The Departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) have many internships available. Many of these internships involve elements of environmental education or public outreach.
Divisions within DEQ with internship opportunities include Coastal Management, Waste Management, Marine Fisheries, Water Resources, and Energy, Mineral and Land Resources. Divisions within DNCR with opportunities include the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Maritime Museum, the Museum of the Cape Fear, all three N.C. Aquariums, various State Parks, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and the N.C. Zoo.
The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs has hosted several state interns in the past and encourages you to share these great opportunities with college students you know.
The online program booklet has a list and description of all the internships as well as the application information and program requirements.
Educator Spotlight: Michael Wood
Michael Wood, a park ranger at Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap, North Carolina recently completed the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program.
Emilee Mroz - Educator Spotlight
USDE Releases Guidance on ESSA Grant Program: Environmental Education is Part of a Well-Rounded Education
Colburn Earth Science Museum Rebranded as "Asheville Museum of Science": Soft Opening November 11th
Educator Spotlight: Crissy Neville
Neville works with K-2 Gifted Education in Cumberland County Schools. She has been teaching 17 years and prior to her current position, she taught Pre-K, grades 2-5 and community college. Neville also owns a farm in Linden, NC and is a 5th generation farmer living in the same home as her great grandfather, grandfather and father.
Neville says the certification program will help her start an “encore” or retirement career after she leaves public school teaching in a few more years. “I have been a formal elementary education educator for many years and until recently, never led or taught environmental education lessons. I now incorporate EE lessons into my curriculum and use it as a summer camp theme. “ After retirement, she hopes to work as an informal educator at a park or the local botanical garden where she now volunteers. “This certification has helped me have confidence and knowledge in environmental education topics and has created a deeper passion for using the outdoors as a classroom.”
Neville enjoyed visiting parks and other environmental education centers and regions of the state she never had been. She said the outdoor instructor-led experiences stood out for her. She especially enjoyed the creek paddle at Carver's Creek State Park in Cumberland County. “I love being on the water. I enjoy kayaking and canoeing every chance I can get.”
For her community partnership project, a component of the certification, Neville began the Century Farm and Garden Club in her community. “The club is a popular thing in my community now and I already feel like an informal educator as I lead programs and facilitate programming. The club helps community members become lifelong learners and community service participants.”
When she isn’t teaching, Neville enjoys gardening, canning and preserving food, working in her greenhouse, running and doing things with her three daughters. She also has a new hobby. “I loved all of the Criteria II (outdoor instructor-led) classes and I now love bird watching as a result – my newest hobby! I especially enjoyed going on a bird watching trip to Durante Nature Preserve this past April during the spring migration period.”
For more information about the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program, visit the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs website at www.eenorthcarolina.org