Cynthia Ramsay, a field instructor with Muddy Sneakers in Guilford County, recently completed her Environmental Education Certification.
As a field instructor with Muddy Sneakers, Ramsay takes 5th-grade students into public lands to teach the science curriculum using hands-on experiments and activities. In her personal time, she enjoys gardening, mushroom identification, piano, hiking, traveling and cooking.
Cynthia says that one of the things she enjoyed about the program was meeting other passionate educators like herself. She says the Methods of Teaching Environmental Education workshop stood out for her. “It was a valuable class. I did a small presentation at my work on what I learned about the 5E lesson plan. As a former classroom teacher, I had used that lesson plan before, but I had never applied it to my current work.”
For her community partnership project, Cynthia built a mud kitchen for a local preschool that has been working towards a focus on outdoor education. “I received pictures when school began of the children, who were ages three to four, using the space for imaginary play with natural loose parts. These children were just becoming comfortable in the outdoors and this provided a hands-on way for them to connect with the natural world.”
When asked if the program changed the way she approached teaching, Cynthia says every experience provided her with tools she could incorporate in her work with children. “Some of the courses taught me more content while others taught me pedagogy and teaching culture. Many courses taught a bit of both. My goal is to allow the content I teach to be accessible to all students and have it presented in the most comfortable way for the participants.”
Cynthia says the program further emphasized her understanding of the difference between environmental education and environmental advocacy. “I understood the difference before, but now I know how to apply them both in the appropriate scenarios. Advocacy has its place, but my work is focused on environmental education. I wish I had known this when I was a classroom teacher years ago.”