Friday, September 25, 2009

Sarah Yelton Named Outstanding Earth Science Educator for 2009

The N.C. Geological Survey, among other sponsors, annually recognizes outstanding earth science teachers and educators from among statewide nominations This year, Sarah Yelton, PreK-12 Environmental Education Program Manager for the N.C. Office of Environmental Education, was selected as the North Carolina Winner of the Outstanding Earth Science Educator Award!

Sarah, on the right, at one of the Science Teacher Institutes she coordinates.

This award recognizes hard work and dedication to earth science education. The award committee noted Sarah's previous work with the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department as well as her accomplishments in her current position, specifically noting her work as the liaison between the N. C. Department of Natural Resources and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Sarah is serving a vital role in the development of N.C. DPI's new Earth and Environmental Science curriculum, as well as helping in the development of other N.C. DPI essential standards for science.

Sarah will be honored at the N.C. Science Teacher's Association Professional Development Institute in Greensboro this November. For more information on the institute go to For more information about the OESE Award, visit the N.C. Geological Survey Web site.

Take A Child Outside Week September 24—September 30, 2009

The Office of Environmental Education encourages parents, teachers and caregivers to take part in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences' Take A Child Outside Week! The Take A Child Outside Web site features a searchable database of activities, natural places to visit and links to organizations and agencies that are joining in with the effort.

The Web site,, also features an online pledge for parents and caregivers and allows the public to log in and post photos and stories about their outdoor adventures.

Several N.C. Environmental Education Centers and other organizations are holding events in honor of Take A Child Outside Week. Go to the statewide Environmental Education Calendar to find out more.

Still Time to Order 2009-10 Love-A-Tree Program!

The 2009-10 Love-A-Tree Environmental Education Packets will be available in October. Teachers and nonformal educators are encouraged to order now if they would like to recieve their packets in the first mailing.

This free program is administered and designed by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education. It is made possible by a grant from the International Paper Foundation to the nonprofit Environmental Education Fund. This marks the 12th year of this very popular program, which has reached more than one million students!

All the activities have been correlated to 4th and 5th grade Science, Social Studies and Healthful Living. Priority will go to 5th grade and then 4th grade orders, but all grades are encouraged to order if you feel it will support your classroom instruction. Nonformal educators that work with these age groups are also invited to order.

The theme of this year’s packet is “Healthy Trees, Healthy People,” and provides activities that integrate environmental education, health and physical fitness. Order online today!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

West Johnston High Sequoias Place Second in National Envirothon Competition

The Sequoias members pictured above left to right Melody Lineberger, team advisor, Lewis Braswell, Frankie Johnson, Thomas Lineberger, Erin Lineberger and Stephanie Tolar.

The West Johnston High School Envirothon Team, the Sequoias, won 2nd Place in the CANON North American Envirothon, which was held on the campus of UNC Asheville this year. The Sequoias competed against 52 teams from across the US and Canadian Provinces and had the highest scores in three of the five topic areas: Forestry, Soils/Land Use and Current Issues.
Each student received a $4,000.00 scholarship from CANON and plaques and medallions signifying their wins.

The Sequoias already have a winning tradition. Last year they took eight place at the national competition, which as held in Arizona.

Nationally, the Envirothon is sponsored by Canon U.S.A., and locally by the N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation, the state’s 96 local soil and water conservation districts and the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The competition’s Web site is

Environmental Educators of North Carolina Annual Conference

Green Spaces in Urban Places:
19th Annual Conference of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina

November 5-8, 2009 in Raleigh, NC

The Environmental Educators of North Carolina invite you to their exciting upcoming conference in Raleigh. There are three Conference “tracks” designed to meet the needs of all participants, including formal educators, EE Certification newbies and environmental education professionals. There will be “mobile workshops,” on-site workshops, and many interesting sessions, as well as evening activities.

The Friday night keynote address will be given by Ms. Akiima Price, Chief of Education and Programs with the New York Restoration Project, which restores, develops and revitalizes open spaces throughout New York City. EENC is also honored to have Dr. June St. Clair Atkinson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, join them Saturday night to announce the recipients of The North Carolina Environmental Education Awards.
Detailed information and registration information is available at

Update on the status of the N.C. Office of Environmental Education

The initial proposed 2009-2010 state budget included the elimination of the Office of Environmental Education. However, the final budget included funding for the office and its programs, though the office did undergo some cuts. The office’s administrative assistant position was eliminated. The budget also eliminated funding for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Library, which is housed within the office. This included the department’s librarian position. The library collection will be transferred to the State Library.

These are dire economic times and though the office is devastated by the loss of these staff members and of the library, we feel fortunate that the remaining staff and programs will stay intact. There are no words to adequately express the thanks that we owe our constituency for your support during this budget crisis. Our office was overwhelmed by the outpouring of grassroots support from environmental educators, citizens and organizations throughout the state.

A recent op-ed piece in the New York Times eloquently addressed the lack of time Americans spend getting outside. The columnist wrote, “One problem may be that the American environmental movement has focused so much on preserving nature that it has neglected to do enough to preserve a constituency for nature.” North Carolina is far from lacking a constituency for the environment. Along with the state’s diverse natural heritage, we have the strongest environmental education community in the country. Our office looks forward to continuing its work for North Carolina’s environmental educators, programs, resources and facilities. Thank you for all you have done to support the N.C. Office of Environmental Education. We feel extremely fortunate that North Carolina has such a unique and dedicated environmental education community.

Sincerely, the staff of the N.C. Office of Environmental Education:
Lisa Tolley
Rachel Smith
Sarah Yelton
Marty Wiggins
Libby Wilcox

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

40th NAAEE National Conference to be held in North Carolina!

The North American Association for Environmental Education has announced that its 2011 conference will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center. North Carolina's active environmental education community and infrastructure, including the Environmental Educators of North Carolina, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and the N.C. Association of Environmental Education Centers, were certainly factors in attracting this major conference. Of course, it is still in its early planning stages, but information about this and the 2009 and 2010 conferences are available on the NAAEE Web site.

You may have heard--the 40th Annual Conference of the North American Assocation for Environmental Education will be in Raleigh, North Carolina October 12-15!

NAAEE is hosting three Twitter Chats on the three consecutive Wednesdays before the conference: Sept. 21, Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 from 11 a.m until 5 p.m EDT. To join in, use the conference hashtag #NAAEE2011.

The final chat topic is: "How can EE programs be more inclusive, both culturally and socially?"  We hope to see a lot of ideas generated, as well as sharing of first-hand experiences from businesses, environmental educators and program providers.  Of course, you don't have to attend the conference to participate on the chat!

You don't use Twitter but do use Facebook? The conversation will also be posted on the NAAEE Facebook page. Just give them a like to join in!