Creeden Kowal recently completed the N.C. Environmental Education Certification program. Creeden is the Education Coordinator for Swain Soil and Water Conservation District and works closely with teachers, other Soil & and Water Conservation Districts and agricultural/environmental agencies in Western North Carolina to deliver environmental education through hands-on activities.
Creeden says her favorite part of earning her certification was all the time she spent outdoors exploring new places and the networking with fellow educators. “The certification experience that stands out for me would be camping overnight at Purchase Knob during the Air Quality workshop. The sunset and sunrise were unforgettable.
For her community partnership project, Creeden converted a trailer to a mobile soil exhibit. The exhibit is a hands-on experience for children to learn about the importance of soil as a natural resource highlighting soil as an ecosystem, causes of soil erosion, best management practices and agricultural commodities in Western North Carolina.
Creeden feels the certification program provided her with valuable skills for teaching. “I had zero experience with teaching or leading groups and had never taken any education classes. The program gave me tons of ideas to incorporate into my programs and helped me feel more comfortable teaching all ages.”
She also describes ways participating in the program changed the way she thinks about environmental issues. “The certification program has a strong emphasis on understanding more so than calling people to action. I have definitely incorporated this into my teaching style allowing students to develop their own unique understanding of the environment and their role.”