Videos and Livestreams - Lunchtime Lecture Series

The NCDEQ Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs hosts a guest lecture series called the "Lunchtime Discovery," hosted and streamed with our partners at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Professionals from a wide range of environmental fields give presentations about their work and participate in a live moderated question and answer chat with viewers. Topics range from spider diversity in North Carolina to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to how to incorporate music in environmental education programming. 

The are several recorded presentations on a wide variety of environmental topics that can be used in the classroom to supplement existing lessons on ecosystems, natural resources, and North Carolina history. 

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Lauren Willhite, North Carolina State University

Stream restoration is the process of improving ecosystem health through the reconstruction of the floodplain and stream itself. Planting species and ensuring riparian vegetation is healthy is an important aspect of restoration. Rocky Branch is an older, restored urban stream completed on North Carolina State’s campus that provides a unique opportunity to examine long-term plant communities post-restoration. Join Lauren Willhite in looking at her vegetation assessment data to see what native and invasive species are present and what we should do moving forward to better conserve plants on restoration sites!

May 29, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Lauren Willhite in the field and head shot

Naturalist and media personality David Mizejewski will share how to create a beautiful garden space that fits into the local ecosystem and supports birds, butterflies, bees and a whole host of other wonderful wildlife neighbors. David will cover why native plants are critical, the four essential components of habitat, and the best sustainable gardening practices based on the latest conservation science. He’ll also share how you can achieve the National Wildlife Federation’s “Certified Wildlife Habitat” recognition for your garden space. David’s book, “Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife,” is available to purchase online. 
May 22, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

David Mizejewski with Owl, his book cover, headshot, David with turtle


Lisa Colvin, Co-Founder and Director of Community Relations
Charles Gbenyon, Co-Founder and Social Media Account Manager and Assistant Director of Outdoor Programs 
Ali Steele, Co-Founder and Director of Outdoor Programs, Inventory Manager and Creative Consultant

Join us to learn how three friends became the founders of the Black outdoor adventure company Issa Vibe Adventures, taking the Charlotte area outdoor community and western North Carolina by storm. These friends kick-started Issa Vibe Adventures with the goal of exposing the Black demographic to nature, but it has become so much more. They now take pride in giving back to their community by making sandwiches for the less fortunate and by teaching, training, engaging Black people to step outside of the norm, get active and try something they’ve never done before. Join us to see how this group is changing the face of the outdoors.

May 15, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Issa Vibe Team outdoors


Dr. Jeffrey McKinnon, Professor, Department of Biology, East Carolina University

Most lakes are less than 15,000 years old and short-lived, but there is a much smaller number of ancient lakes, tectonic in origin and often millions of years old, that are scattered across every continent but Antarctica. Examples include Baikal, Tanganyika, Victoria, Titicaca, and Biwa. Often these lakes are filled with a diversity of fish, crustaceans, snails and other creatures found nowhere else in the world. Join Jeffrey McKinnon to learn more about the remarkable living diversity of these aquatic bodies and the surprising, often controversial, findings about the formation and persistence of the species living in them.

May 8, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

diver, fish diagram, book cover of Ancient Lakes

Dr. Matt Bertone, Director and Diagnostic Entomologist, NCSU Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
Dr. Kelly Oten, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University

This year, North Carolina will experience one of nature's greatest events: the emergence of millions of periodical cicadas! This phenomenon can only be seen in the Eastern US, and Brood XIX has been patiently waiting underground for 13 years to finally emerge. This session will include information about cicadas in general, what makes a cicada "periodical" and how cicadas affect us and the environment, all while hopefully spreading appreciation for these abundant, and LOUD, insects.
May 1, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Matt Bertone, cicada, Kelly Otten, hand holding a cicada


Vanessa Woods, Research Scientist; Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University; Horticultural Sciences, North Carolina State University

It has been 40 years since the late E.O. Wilson proposed the term biophilia, the “emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.” Recently, the way we think about biophilia has changed. Rather than an attraction to the natural world that is present at the same intensity in everyone, we now think of biophilia more as a temperament trait. While some people flourish in the natural world, others prefer to spend their time indoors, away from bugs and unpleasant weather. Find out where you measure in BQ (Biophilia Quotient), and find out how we can join conservationists, ecologists and evolutionary biologists in finding a way for people to live with nature and amidst nature, while slowing the disappearance of the plants and wildlife that bring us all joy.

April 24, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Vanessa Woods, a monkey and flowers

Hannah Ball-Damberg, Farm Educator, Durham Public Schools Hub Farm
Chef Peter Broadsky, Head, Culinary Arts, Northern High School

The Durham Public Schools (DPS) Hub Farm is DPS’s 30-acre outdoor learning center that engages students, staff, families and the broader DPS community in field trips, internships, summer camp, workshops and more. Join Hannah Ball-Damberg, Farm Educator and Chef Peter Brodsky, Head of the Culinary Arts program at Northern High School in Durham, as they discuss the intersections of outdoor education and career training for high school students.

April 17 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

students working at the hub farm, Hub Farm logo, table with produce, rows of plants

Bryan England, Preserve Manager, Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve Park, City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department

Historical accounts depict a time when central North Carolina was a land of “vast prairies, with pea-vine grass,” back “when everybody thought this pea-vine country was a sort of new Garden of Eden.” But a short time later they wrote that the wild peavine had “utterly disappeared” from the Carolina Piedmont. What was this paradise plant? Could the historic wild peavine landscape reappear at Wilkerson Nature Preserve and other places in North Carolina? Join us for a talk about ecological history and to see how it is never too late to give peas a chance.

April 10 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Person holding peavine, city of raleigh logo, stand of trees with peavine below

Laura Wood, Environmental Connections Integration Specialist, Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School

Lincoln Heights Elementary School is one of two magnet schools in North Carolina to offer the Environmental Connections program, where all subjects are taught through an environmental lens. Join Laura Wood to learn about the origin of the school’s theme, its implementation and the many ways students are connecting with the environment. She will share practices and strategies you can replicate, and tips and tricks to take students beyond the four walls of a traditional classroom to be immersed in nature. Come and learn how to connect with the environment all year long!

April 3, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Laura Wood by waterfall, Lincoln Heights, Laura outdoors with students

Dr. Terri A. Long, Professor of Plant Biology and Platform Director for Education and Workforce Development for the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative, North Carolina State University

Agriculture/agribusiness is the number one driver of North Carolina’s economy. But did you know that in 2023, for the first time in history, the US imported more agricultural goods than we exported? Did you also know that today, agriculture requires expertise in everything from horticulture to engineering, mathematics, AI and beyond? Join Dr. Terri Long to learn about how scientists and staff at NCSU are working to chart new territory in translational plant science and outreach to bring new solutions to the growing challenges facing NC agriculture and agriculture workforce development.

March 27, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Terri Long

Kathryn Aalto, New York Times Bestselling Author, Historian, Designer, Teacher and Speaker

Kathryn Aalto’s book, “Writing Wild,” celebrates the lives and work of women who found inspiration in nature and used the power of their pens not only to promote environmental awareness, but to change the very way we perceive nature. Kathryn will highlight the role women have played in shaping our lives and preserving the environment. Part travelogue, literary biography and cultural history, both the book and talk delve into the ways women were limited by opportunities and societal expectations, and the way nature writing has evolved over time, from early nature diaries to contemporary environmental literature.

March 20, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Kathryn Aalto, Writing Wild book cover

Join us for a special discussion with five women working in science and the environment. Secretary Elizabeth Biser, the first woman to lead the Department of Environmental Quality, will moderate a conversation with these pioneering women about their exciting work and their challenges working in STEM careers. Panelists from DEQ include Air Quality Regional Supervisor Dawn Reddix, Conservation Biologist Vicky Thayer and Organics Recycling Specialist Christine Wittmeier. They will be joined by Dr. Rachel Smith, Head of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Lab and Emma Blackford, Head of the Museum's Prairie Ridge Ecostation.

March 13, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Christine Wittmeier, Dawn Reddix, Vicky Thayer, Emma Blackford, Rachel Smith, Elizabeth Biser

Join award-winning film director Erin Derham as she talks about her documentary feature film that shares the surprising and unique world of taxidermy. “Stuffed” is shown through the eyes and hands of passionate, renowned artists across the world and allows the audience to dip into and explore this diverse subculture, where sculptors must also be scientists. Erin successfully depicts taxidermy as a genre of art, formed by a collection of people who have a fanaticism for nature, matched only by their desire to protect it. They love animals and see life where others only see death. In an unexpected twist, “Stuffed” reveals the importance of preserving nature, using taxidermy as its unlikely vehicle, and the taxidermist as its wild driver.

Erin Derham is an international award-winning director and historian, specializing in storytelling with an edge, shining a light on all things misunderstood. Her production company, History Boutique Films, has released multiple features and series, culminating in over 400 hours of interviews conducted worldwide. Her first documentary, “Buskin’ Blues,” a film about street music, attended over a dozen festivals. “Stuffed,” a global documentary about the art of taxidermy, was nominated for best film at SXSW 2019. Erin also completed three seasons (12 episodes) as showrunner of “Point of View: A Designer Profile,” a documentary series about the artistry behind interior design. Currently, Erin is directing a documentary with legendary producer Mike Medavoy, and Appian Way, about the humanity behind artificial intelligence. She is also in production for “Healthy Lies,” a documentary on the fraudulent nature of the wellness industry. 

March 6, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Erin Derham, movie ad for the documentary Stuffed

Joan L. Collins, Director of Outreach and Education, Pea Island Preservation Society"

The Pea Island Lifesaving Station on North Carolina’s Outer Banks is historically significant and distinctive, as it was the only lifesaving station in the United States to be manned by an all Black crew. Under the direction of Keeper Richard Etheridge, the crew was hired from local Black men in the community and they were trained to be dedicated and dependable watermen in the service of lifesaving. The men of Pea Island never received any awards for rescues no matter how many lives they saved. It wasn’t until 1996, 100 years after the heroic rescue of the crew of the E.S. Newman in 1896, that the US Coast Guard finally paid honor to the crew of the Pea Island Station. Joan Collins, a Freedmen Colony and Pea Island descendant, joins us to share how the Pea Island Preservation Society is telling this story and preserving this very important history.

February 28, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

historic photos of the Pea Island Lifesavers, the Cook House and Richard Etheridge

We honor the legacy of those stewards of the land that came before us and have faith in those stewards of the land that will come after us. The North Carolina-based Black Family Land Trust is one of the nation’s only conservation land trusts dedicated to the preservation and protection of African-American and other historically underserved landowner assets. The BFLT utilizes the core principles of land conservation and land-based community economic development to achieve their goals. They measurably improve the quality of life for landowners by providing families with the tools necessary to make informed, proactive decisions regarding their land and its use. The BFLT works primarily in the Southeastern United States, and their programs are intergenerational in their design. Join us as host Chris Smith interviews BFLT Executive Director Ebonie Alexander and takes your questions live!  
February 21, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

family farms

Adrienne Nirdé, Director, NC African American Heritage Commission, NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Did you know that over 300 businesses in North Carolina were listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book? “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” published between 1936 and 1966, was both a travel guide and a tool of resistance designed to confront the realities of racial discrimination in the United States and beyond. The book listed 327 North Carolina businesses—from restaurants and hotels, to tourist homes, nightclubs and beauty salons—in the three decades that it was published. The Green Book exhibit highlights a complex statewide network of business owners and Green Book sites that allowed African American communities to thrive, and that created “oasis spaces” for a variety of African American travelers.  Join us to learn more about this history and how your community can become involved.

February 14, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Green Book cover

Kamal Bell: Owner, Sankofa Farms

Kamal Bell founded Sankofa Farms in Efland, North Carolina to help people affected by “food deserts” and to create a sustainable food source for minorities in both rural and urban areas located in Durham and Orange Counties. The farm is also home to the Sankofa Farms Agricultural Academy, a year-round intensive STEM-based program that seeks to educate students on the existing problems within agriculture. Join Kamal as he discusses his journey into farming and his farm’s transition to climate-smart agriculture.

February 7 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Kamal Bell on his farm, Sankofa

Dr. David Coyle, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University

Spiders! Beetles! Sawflies! These critters are all around us, yet a few species — the invasive ones — are cause for great concern due to their ecological and economic impacts. We’ll talk about how we get invasive pests, some of the most notorious ones in the Southeast, and what we can do about them.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

January 31 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Joro spider and other invasive insects

Clarisa Arguello, Outreach Librarian, SLNC
Victoria Haas, Digital Projects Librarian, SLNC
Taylor Thompson, Reference Services Assistant, SLNC

Join us on a lunchtime escapade into the intriguing realms of the State Library of North Carolina’s Government and Heritage Library, where history meets science, with a touch of mystery. Explore databases that hold the keys to North Carolina’s unique natural wonders, and State Documents that tell the history of the Old North State from the coast to the mountains and in between. The library’s collection includes a treasure trove of surprises, ranging from charming gardening brochures to Army survival guides. In this webinar, learn how the resources at the SLNC Government and Heritage Library can help you make the most of the natural world around you.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

January 24 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

State Library of NC and artifacts from Government and Heritage Library

Edde Burgess, Photographer

I am a lifelong native of Raleigh, the husband of a wonderful wife, and dad to two amazing kids. After my family, my passion is photography. I love exploring my creative side and trying to capture moments that speak to me. I’ve always veered toward the arts. I spent years as a painter and sculptor, and that allows me to come at my photography from the artistic side. I still have my first camera: the Pentax K1000—a classic. The equipment might have changed over the years, but my passion has only grown.
Photography has led me to virtually every state in America and many foreign countries. If I have a credo, it’s the Allman Brothers’ song, “Ramblin’ Man.” I’m always on the go, searching for the next great shot. When I travel to shoot Ironman triathlons around the U.S., I look for interesting locations nearby where I can capture wildlife on film. 

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
January 17, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern


Dr. Julie Horvath, Head, Genomics and Microbiology Research Lab, NCMNS; Research Associate Professor, NC Central University
Dr. Marianne Barrier, Lab Manager, Genomics and Microbiology Research Lab, NCMNS

Why is monkey blood relevant to you? Monkey Health Explorer is a citizen science project on that engages the public in identifying white blood cells in rhesus macaque monkeys that live on Cayo Santiago, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Drs. Horvath and Barrier will teach you what different parts of a blood sample look like so that you can participate in this project. And, similarly to what happens when you have blood drawn at the doctor’s office, you will identify cells in a sample of blood. Counting the different types of blood cells is critical to helping us understand which monkeys are healthy or sick in the population we’re studying.

We compare the health data to behavioral data to help understand how the health of monkeys affects how they behave. This will provide us information useful to understanding similar processes in humans. In addition to discussing initial findings about the health of our monkeys, we’ll discuss what has worked well in engaging the public in this Zooniverse project and some of the trends in data collection.

January 10, 2024 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

monkey, blood sample, two monkeys grooming