Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Click this link for the complete bill text. The "Section 2, Findings" is quite interesting and notes much of the current research on on the benefits of outdoor play and learning.
The National Wildlife Federation also has information at beoutthere.org/MONA .
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
2011 North Carolina Outdoor Classroom Symposium
Green and Growing!
April 8, 2011*
North Carolina Botanical Garden
* Main symposium activities will take place on Friday, April 8. Optional workshops and outdoor classroom site visits will occur on Thursday, April 7 and Saturday, April 9.
Announcing Call for Presentations!!
Presentations should focus on an aspect of creating or using an outdoor classroom area at a school and should relate to at least one of the five Symposium Themes:
- Getting Started! Creating new spaces – How to start from scratch.
- Raking in the Dough! How to find money to make your great ideas a reality.
- Expanding and Improving Spaces! Ways to make your existing outdoor classroom even better.
- Emerging Gardens! Everything you need to know about gardens for young learners.
- Naturally Connected! Connecting schoolyards to curriculum - Dazzle your school administrators with all kinds of curriculum connections to improve student performance.
Click here to submit a proposal. (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2011NCOCS). Proposal submissions must be received no later than 5pm on Friday, January 21, 2011.
Due to the hands-on nature of this symposium, we highly encourage you to be creative with your presentations! Proposals will be reviewed for originality, quality and alignment with chosen symposium theme(s). Preference will be given to presentations that actively engage all audience members and are experiential in nature. Additional presentation details and requirements can be found on the submission form in the link above. The NC Outdoor Classroom Symposium is co-sponsored by the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, with support provided by the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program and the Environmental Education Fund.
More information regarding symposium details will be available on the http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/ website in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
For any questions, please contact Sarah Yelton at 919-715-4453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Discover N.C. River Basins education materials at this link.
Monday, November 29, 2010
N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs Receives Environmental Educators of N.C. Outstanding Partnership Award
The Outstanding Partnership Award recognizes organizations who have partnered with EENC to support the mission and growth of EENC and environmental education within the state. Several of the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs’ programs support and expand on the EENC mission: the Environmental Education Certification Program, the NC-EE email listserv and the http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/ website all support the efforts of EENC and its members. The office has also involved EENC members and leadership in updating the EE Certification Program, in the ongoing development the N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan, and the recently completed North Carolina Environmental Education Plan. Both the office and EENC work constantly and vigilantly towards a more environmentally literate public and provide high quality environmental education opportunities for teachers, students, peers and the general public.
Each year EENC publicly recognizes environmental educators, EENC members, organizations, and partners for their valuable contributions to environmental literacy, the field of environmental education, the EENC organization, and environmental well-being of North Carolina. EENC's mission is to promote excellence in professional development and facilitate networking opportunities, inspiring educators to create an environmentally literate citizenry. Environmental education is a learning process that increases people's knowledge and awareness about the environment and associated challenges, develops the necessary skills and expertise to address the challenges, and fosters attitudes, motivations and commitments to make informed decisions and take responsible action.
Please contact Keith Bamberger, EENC Membership Co-Chair (828-296-4553), or the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs (919-733-0711 with questions or for comments.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' Wilcox Receives EENC Outstanding Service Award
Each year EENC publicly recognizes environmental educators, EENC members, organizations, and partners for their valuable contributions to environmental literacy, the field of environmental education, the EENC organization and the environmental well-being of North Carolina.
The Outstanding Service Award recognizes an EENC member who has served in key leadership roles and has made a significant contribution to future the mission of EENC. North Carolina was the first state to create a professional development program for environmental educators and Libby has overseen the program since 2000. In that role she has worked tirelessly to promote educational opportunities and support professional development across the state. As program coordinator she has helped nearly 1,000 individuals obtain their certification and works with agencies, parks, organizations and programs to ensure the professional development classes and workshops they offer meet the highest standards of environmental education.
Libby will be retiring in early 2011. Congratulations on a well-deserved award and a successful tenure as EE Certification Program Manager!
The first EENC awards were given in 1995, and people from all regions of the state and careers have been recognized over the last fifteen years. EENC's mission is to promote excellence in professional development and facilitate networking opportunities, inspiring educators to create an environmentally literate citizenry. For more information about the EENC Awards, contact Keith Bamberger at 828-296-4500 or email@example.com
Monday, November 1, 2010
(N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences Press Release)
Baird is director of education for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. This award recognizes an educator who stands out among environmental educators, exemplifies excellence and lends credibility to the field. Through valuable contributions, they are regarded as a “dynamo” that other environmental educators strive to emulate. As director of education at the Museum, Baird engages students and teachers across the state and around the world with unique and innovative natural science experiences. Throughout her 15-year tenure, she has affected the lives of thousands of teachers who, in turn, affect the lives of thousands of their students.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Visit the NAAEE web site to learn more: http://www.naaee.org/conference/call-for-presentations
Monday, October 4, 2010
“Heading Out! Discovering Nature’s Classroom” was held Sept. 23-25 at the First Environments Early Learning Center on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences campus near Raleigh.
The workshop supported the use of outdoor classrooms and schoolyard gardens to improve academic achievement and address issues such as childhood obesity that have become more common due to a lack of outdoor exercise. Educators learned strategies to easily incorporate outdoor experiences, gardening, storytelling and art into their curriculum.
First Environments Early Learning Center is an ideal site for educators because it incorporates outdoor learning into the classroom, on the playground and even in food service. The workshop emphasized hands-on learning, and content and activities were aligned with the N.C. Foundations for Early Learning and the N.C. Standard Course of Study for kindergarten through 5th grade courses in science, social studies, language arts, math and healthy living.
“Heading Out!” was coordinated by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. It was made possible by the Environmental Education Fund at no cost to participants, thanks to funding from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program.
Preference was given to applicants from the 36-county Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program region in northeastern North Carolina. However, teachers from as far west as Polk County will be in attendance.
For more information about First Environments Early Learning Center, visit http://www.firstenvironments.org/. For more information about the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, visit http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/.
Find out more on the EENC website.
The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously last week to require all Maryland public schools to incorporate environmental education into their curriculum.
Every Maryland public school must now provide a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education program aligned with the Maryland Environmental Literacy Curriculum. Each local school system can design its own program, which will be reviewed by Maryland State Board of Education every five years. The requirement does not require an additional course or specific number of environmental education experiences--each local school system can implement its environmental literacy plan based on the resources unique to their system. This decision is expected to provide the opportunity for all public school students to participate in quality, integrated environmental education programs. The state board rejected language that would clarify the provision as a high school graduation requirement.
For more details:
Thursday, September 30, 2010
The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is excited to welcome a new staff member. Tracey Ritchie is the new adult environmental education consultant and will be managing the office's successful river basin education and consumer education programs. She will also administer the environmental education website and work on other adult EE programs and initiatives.
Tracey was born in New York but lived in Florida since she was three. She received a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation with a minor in zoology from the University of Florida and has a master's degree in environmental education from Florida Atlantic University.
Tracey has held a variety of jobs and internships across the country, including work as a zookeeper in Oregon, a naturalist in coastal South Carolina and as education coordinator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando. She most recently worked at Pine Jog Environmental Education Center in West Palm Beach, Florida as the volunteer and public programs coordinator and was the instructor of a three semester program for Florida Atlantic University in environmental service learning.
"I wanted to come to North Carolina because this state is such a leader in the field of EE." Notes Tracey on her move to the state. "I am just so happy to be here and to be a part of such an amazing group of citizens that are committed to conserving and educating others about all of North Carolina’s natural wonders." Tracey is looking forward to working with other agencies and exploring all of North Carolina’s environmental education centers. We know everyone in the N.C. environmental education community is looking forward to working with her as well.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The segment addressed the benefits of integrating outdoor environmental education into the classroom, as well as the health benefits of outdoor learning and school gardens. Includes great footage of FEELC.
Friday, September 24, 2010
NEEA is the law that authorizes the EPA Office of Environmental Education, the Environmental Education and Training Program (EETAP, a national training grant program), environmental education grants and gellowships and much more all through the Environmental Protection Agency. The law has not been reauthorized since it was first enacted in 1990 and has not seen an increase in funding for more than a decade. The reauthorization would revise the law to take into account the movement on environmental literacy efforts and training for “green” jobs—a growing field.
Jodi Riedel, a Wakefield High School (Wake County) agriculture teacher received the N.C. Wildlife Federation's 2010 Environmental Educator of the Year Award. One of Riedel's notable accomplishments is a forestry curriculum she wrote when she took part in N.C. State University’s Kenan Fellows Program, which has been used with more than 700 students. Read more about Jodi's work on the N.C. State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' news site.
For outstanding efforts in integrating environmental education in and outside the classroom, veteran science teacher Randy Senzig of Fuquay-Varina High School was named “2009 Environmental Educator of the Year” by the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District .
Senzig and Riedel are both North Carolina Certified Environmental Educators, which is open to teachers, nonformal eductors or any adult with an interest in environmental education. Learn more about this program at www.eenorthcarolina.org/certification.html.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
“In these challenging times, buying local foods will benefit our farmers and fishermen and help grow our economy,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “Golden LEAF is proud to support the 10% Campaign because North Carolina’s agricultural products are fresher, tastier and healthier.”
North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If individuals spent 10 percent on foods produced locally – roughly $1.05 per day – about $3.5 billion would be available in the local economy.
“North Carolina is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the increased consumer demand for locally produced foods,” said Nancy Creamer, co-director of CEFS. “Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. The state’s climate, soils and coastal resources support production of a wide variety of produce, meats, fish and seafood. We have the capacity to build a robust local food economy to the benefit of all; the 10% Campaign will help get us there.”
Critical to the success of the 10% Campaign is the active support of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Extension has designated a local foods coordinator in all 100 counties and for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to help connect consumers and food producers and support local businesses and organizations who want to participate in the campaign.
Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice company, is another key partner. In addition to sourcing 10 percent of the produce it sells to all its North Carolina clients from local producers, Compass Group will also work with CEFS to develop a model “farm to institution” buying program.
Three opportunities exist for businesses and organizations to participate in the 10% Campaign. They can pledge 10 percent of their purchasing/growing power; host an employee/member challenge; and/or promote the campaign externally.
Two of the campaign’s 31 launch partners include North Carolina State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and North Carolina A&T State University, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Both have pledged to join the campaign at each of the three levels. Additionally, the North Carolina State University Campus Enterprises and University Dining has pledged to serve 10 percent locally grown or produced foods at all campus dining facilities, including all catering operations, by 2012.
The website’s "About" page details more about launch partners and how consumers, businesses and organizations can support the campaign.
Individuals joining the 10% Campaign can register online at http://www.nc10percent.com/ and pledge to spend 10 percent of their food budget on foods produced/grown locally. The website also hosts a wealth of information about the efforts of the many great organizations already working in the field.
For more information about participating in the campaign contact the 10% Campaign manager Teisha Wymore at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 919-515-0244. Media contact: Meg Ryan O’Donnell at 919-755-3804 /email@example.com
Friday, August 6, 2010
This workshop will provide educators with strategies to easily incorporate outdoor experiences, gardening, storytelling and art into their curriculum in an effort to improve student health and learning. First Environments Early Learning Center provides the ideal site for educators to learn from a model facility that successfully incorporates outdoor learning into the curriculum. During this three-day workshop, educators will participate in a variety of in-depth investigations that can easily be incorporated in the classroom upon return to the school setting. Hands-on, real world experiences will be emphasized! All content and activities are aligned with the NC Foundations for Early Learning and the NC Standard Course of Study for K-5 Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Mathematics and Healthy Living.
The Discovering Nature’s Classroom workshop is open to North Carolina early childhood educators and administrators and public, private or charter school teachers or administrators of grades PreK-5. While the workshop is open to educators state-wide, preference will be given to applications from the 36-county Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program region.
For more information or to apply, visit the web site at http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/naturesclassroomworkshop.html.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
The KidsConnect program is designed to bring education resources and access to technology to underserved youth, ages 8-13, while also bringing them closer to nature through understanding conservation. Library outreach workers in Greensboro, High Point, and Forsyth County are trained in using the Field Trip Earth site and curriculum materials developed for the KidsConnect program and are then provided with more advanced technology training. The library staffs select community-based partners and provide training to their staffs who offer programming to underserved youth and bring the curriculum, technology and hands-on experiences to their students.
Each site uses Field Trip Earth to learn about conservation and its importance to our planet and then selects a local project to research and act on. All projects integrate the use of technology and the building of literacy skills into their efforts.
This year the sites consisted of five locations, including an international program site with English as a second language. Student projects were documented using technology. Presentations about their experiences were created using power point, animation and other programs.
Throughout the program students also communicate using an on-line community created for the project. In late summer, 200 students gather at the Zoo to celebrate what they have accomplished and to make presentations, and to receive recognition for “Saving a piece of the world for wildlife.” Some students that age out of the program still help as mentors and are given special recognition and a small gift. Leadership skills are also developed as students take responsibilities in the day, make presentations and host display tables.
Community participation in the program has grown, as has the number of youth served. But the most important growth has come in the students who gain stronger literacy skills, improved technology skills and discover their leadership skills and find that they can make a difference in saving a piece of the world of wildlife. Over the years the program has expanded and impacted more students, leveraged library resources and expanded the capacity of the partnering organizations.
Recognition of the program has included a visit by local Dell representatives, media attention, and publication in Boys and Girls Club magazine and on Fox 8 TV; and designation by the N.C. Extension Service of High Point program’s garden as a “Community Garden”. This garden was included on the “Master Gardeners Training Tour” and listed on the state website. Students have also made presentations to City Council and other civic groups to share what they have learned and to advocate for the environmental issues they were working on.
To learn more about the program and see presentations and more information about the project, go to If you would like to see what kids have done, go to http://kidsconnect-nc.org/ or contact Kathy Bull, NC Zoological Society at 336-879-7286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EPA is now accepting comments on the proposed Plan. The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs has already submitted comments, which can be viewed at http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/images/CommentsEPAStrategicPlan.pdf
The deadline for comment is today, July 30th by 11:59 pm Eastern Time. Comments are accepted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480b054e6
Comments can be entered directly online—letters can be attached as well.
Durham County’s students, the ‘Vicious Vipers’, won the chance to represent NC at the event by taking 1st place at the Area 4 Envirothon on March 26, 2010 and then 1st place at the NC Envirothon on April 23-24, 2010. The team includes, Nathanael Gass, Anna Gass, Merilee Nixon, Peter Barrow, Michael Estes, and advisor Cindy Gass. Also traveling with the group is Steve Bennett, NC Envirothon coordinator and Jennifer Brooks, Durham County Envirothon Coordinator.
In Durham County, the Envirothon program is sponsored by the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District. The competition is open to middle and high school public, private and homeschool groups. The Vicious Vipers have been competing in Envirothon for 4 years now, starting in middle school.
For more information, please contact the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District at (919) 560-0558 or email@example.com (Press release provided by Jennifer Brooks. Thanks!)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
This is one of several sessions that will be held across the country. The Initiative and listening sessions are the result of a memorandum issued by President Obama that directed the Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Administrator of the EPA and Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to create a 21st Century Strategy for America's Great Outdoors.
The initiative has three main goals:
-Reconnect americans to the outdoors-Enhance conservation partnerships-Protect and restore our lands and waters using science
This article from the Asheville Citizen-Times reports on the event and provides video of the welcome by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy (she mentions environmental education!).
Monday, July 12, 2010
We know that litter on the ground can find its way into storm drains, which empty into waterways that lead to the ocean. Once trash enters the ocean it becomes marine debris--but what happens after that?
Follow Keep America Beautiful of New Hanover County’s Jennifer O’Keefe and UNC-Wilmington’s Bonnie Monteleone on a voyage 700 miles off the North Carolina coast to find out what happens to litter from our streets, parking lots and school yards. The first stop is Bermuda where beach surveys on this island inside the North Atlantic Gyre last year showed massive amounts of plastic pollution.
After a couple days in Bermuda, they’ll board the Research Vessel Atlantic Explorer for 5 days of sampling. Plastics collected will be taken back to UNC-Wilmington where they will be weighed and analyzed. This is a continuation of O'Keefe and Monteleone's work last summer. Also, in September, Monteleone sailed into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on a similar research mission.
You can follow their adventures at by visiting http://theplasticocean.blogspot.com/ to view photos and videos from this trip and last year’s research.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC LISTENING SESSION ON THE PRESIDENT’S AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS INITIATIVE, Asheville July 15, 2010
"Changing Lives ... Impacting Communities"
When: Thursday, July 15, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
What: Public Listening Session on President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
Where: Asheville-Buncombe County Technical Institute; Asheville Campus, 340 Victoria Road, Asheville, NC 28801 (Map & Directions)
Who: Representatives from DOI, USDA, EPA, and CEQ will be present to hear your thoughts and to participate in a conversation with you about land conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the great outdoors.
Register: This event is free and open to the public and we will make every effort to accommodate everyone. To help with our planning, we encourage you to pre-register by Monday July 12. To pre-register, please email Teresa Lovelace
Include with your email your name, organization, and primary area of interest:
· Working lands, open space, and landscape conservation
· Outdoor Recreation
· Youth engagement and environmental education.
· General Discussion
In April, at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to develop a conservation and recreation agenda worthy of the 21st century and to reconnect Americans with our great outdoors. The President understands that protecting and restoring the lands and waters that we love and reconnecting people to the outdoors must be community driven and supported. The President directed the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to lead this effort and to listen and learn from people all over the country. Please join senior representatives of these agencies for a public listening session and discussion on land conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the great outdoors.
In the Southeast, many citizens and organizations are deeply involved in the conservation of working farms, forests, lakes, and rivers, scenic lands, and historic areas, and in celebrating and enjoying the region’s rich outdoor and cultural heritage. This public listening session and discussion is an opportunity forleaders of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to hear from you about solutions for building a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnecting all Americans with the outdoors.
More Info: You can find more information on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and submit comments online at:www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors
Friday, June 4, 2010
The N.C. Senate version of the budget eliminates two positions within the Office--the adult environmental education program manager (river basin and informed consumer programs, and all public awareness programs for adults) and the PreK-12 environmental education program manager (teacher training institutes, outdoor classroom symposium, Environmental Literacy Plan development and all PreK-12 Programs). The Office would cease to exist and the remaining positions would be incorporated into a new division.
The final decision on the status of the Office depends on the decision of the House and Senate conferees, who will begin meeting this week to work out differences in the two budgets. The General Assembly aims to have the budget passed before July 1.
Update: Budget negotiations are complete. The N.C. General Assembly website has the 2010 budget and money report. The vote will be on Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Senate Bill eliminates two positions in the Office of Environmental Education, the adult environmental education program manager (river basin and informed consumer programs, and all public awareness programs for adults) and the PreK-12 environmental education program manager (teacher training institutes, outdoor classroom symposium, Environmental Literacy Plan development and all PreK-12 Programs) within the Office of Environmental Education.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources is meeting today to review Senate budget and take input from committee members. A vote is expected to be taken in subcommittee by next Thursday. The Appropriations Committee of the North Carolina House of Representatives will hold a public hearing on Monday, May 24, to receive comments about the state budget. The hearing will be held from 7-10 p.m. at the McKimmon Center on the campus of North Carolina State University. Email comments concerning the budget may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org up to midnight of May 25.
The N.C. Office of Environmental Education serves as a national model for providing access to and policy for environmental education.
The N.C. Office of Environmental Education was established by the N.C. Environmental Education Act of 1993, which called for the creation of the Office of Environmental Education within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Link to legislation)
In 2000, the office had a staff of 10. Since that time, the staff has been cut in half. The office, which is functioning now with five employees, would be reduced by two under the Senate’s proposal. The two positions proposed for elimination include the PreK-12 Program Manager and the Adult Environmental Education Program Manager. This proposal would essentially repeal the N.C. Environmental Education Act, setting our state back 17 years.
These two positions, as well as the other positions in the office, are critical to the success of the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program. The certification program’s continued growth is dependent upon the support the office provides to both formal PreK-12 classroom teachers and nonformal educators including adult educators. Both the positions proposed for elimination support the development of the certification program. The N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program cannot successfully function without the support of the Office of Environmental Education and its remaining staff.
In addition, the office has made some exciting accomplishments within the last year that would be severely affected by the current proposal.
· The Office most recently released the state's 10-year plan for environmental education. In order to meet the goals of this plan, the office must remain a fully staffed entity.
· The office is leading the effort to create a state environmental literacy plan for PreK-12 schools, which could potentially bring millions of federal dollars to the state to enhance statewide public education. The funding is being proposed through the No Child Left Inside legislation, which is one of four key pieces of legislation being considered as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act at the federal level. The plan will help better prepare North Carolina students to face environmental challenges in the future, as well as placing the state in a position to take advantage of federal funding. The PreK-12 position, with support from all 4 positions in the office, is critical to the development of this plan. On May 12, the Office of Environmental Education and partners launched the state’s Environmental Literacy Plan. (See news coverage of the event).
· Since 2002, the PreK-12 Program has led the development and coordination of high-quality professional development institutes and symposia for classroom teachers. More than 250 teachers have learned how to teach their students to use critical-thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills by investigating locally relevant environmental issues and incorporating outdoor learning into their classroom. As a result, more than 138,000 students continue to be positively impacted by teacher participation in these professional development programs. These professional development opportunities and the resulting student impacts would not be possible without the leadership of the PreK-12 position, which is currently proposed for elimination.
· The Office received a $99,000 Stormwater Compliance Grant from Wal-Mart last year to continue the highly successful river basin educational awareness program. The Division of Water Quality has made changes to the state’s river basin boundaries and this grant would allow the office to make those changes to the river basin maps and booklets distributed to teachers and non-formal educators across the state. The office has distributed hundreds of thousands of these publications to educators and this grant would allow the office to provide these resources to other educators and citizens. The Adult Environmental Education Program Manager being considered for elimination is responsible for this program among many other programs in the office. This program was part of an effort that began in the 1990s to educate citizens about their connection to their environment and to increase environmental awareness among the adult population. This program and the consultation it provides to other agencies will not exist if the adult environmental education program manager position is eliminated.
· The office has joined eight Southeastern states in an effort to increase access to environmental education programs, resources and events. This partnership provided funding through EPA to create an online searchable database of all the environmental education resources in the state. This program is also managed by the Adult Environmental Education Program Manager, a position which is being proposed for elimination.
· In April, the Office of Environmental Education recognized 185 formal and non-formal educators for completing the EE Certification Program. North Carolina is now home to more than 900 certified environmental educators.
The PreK-12 and adult environmental education programs are essential to the mission of the Office of Environmental Education. The PreK-12 and adult environmental education programs are severely understaffed as they currently exist, with two people serving the needs of the entire state. By necessity, all five of the office’s staff collaborates on multiple grants and programs; individual staff members are not solely responsible for program areas. The five positions remaining are all critical to meeting the mandate in the office's legislation. Any further cuts of this program will render the program essentially ineffective.
Monday, May 17, 2010
News 14 Carolina did an excellent video and news story about the kickoff for the North Carolina Environmental Literacy Plan that was held Wednesday, May 12 at Wiley Elementary in Raleigh. Visit this link for the complete story. Senator Josh Stein delivered remarks, as well as State Superintendent June Atkinson and N.C. DENR Secretary Dee Freeman.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Release: Immediate Contact: Sarah Yelton
Superintendent Atkinson Launches Environmental Literacy Plan for N.C. Students
State leaders and educators will launch North Carolina’s new environmental literacy plan on Wednesday (May 11, 2010) at a Raleigh school that has become a model for outdoor learning.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson and Dee Freeman, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will help kickoff the plan during the 9:15 a.m. ceremony at Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary School, 301 Saint Mary’s St., Raleigh.
The environmental literacy plan aims to ensure that graduates of North Carolina’s public schools are prepared for future environmental challenges. The plan is a partnership between the state departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Public Instruction.
“This plan will provide students with the essential critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they will need to meet real-world challenges and contribute to healthy, sustainable and prosperous communities,” Atkinson said. “Environmental literacy is an important part of a well-rounded education. It is also increasingly important as businesses recognize that an environmentally literate workforce is essential for long-term success and sustainability.”
The plan would prepare North Carolina to take advantage of federal funding through proposed No Child Left Inside, or NCLI, legislation. The NCLI Act is one of four key pieces of legislation being considered as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The ESEA authorizes federally funded education programs administered by the states. It is being reviewed for reauthorization this year.
Freeman said a state environmental literacy plan is important for the state’s future.
“To be globally competitive in the 21st Century and to have a sustainable and healthy future, North Carolina needs environmentally literate individuals and communities who can make informed decisions about the complex environmental issues affecting our economy, public health and natural resources,” Freeman said.
Wiley, the Raleigh school hosting the event, was an ideal location because of its outdoor learning area that includes a natural learning garden and a Piedmont Savannah restoration area. Recently, volunteers completed a community service project that added a learning platform to the school’s outdoor classroom area. The platform will provide a place for students to study outside. During Wednesday’s ceremony, state officials and members of the PTA as well as educators at Wiley will unveil the new platform and add plants to the school’s outdoor garden.
Wiley serves as a model for other schools that would like to have outdoor learning areas. Wiley Principal Erin Kershner, teachers and PTA members are committed to using the outdoors to teach students. You can learn more about Wiley’s outdoor learning areas online at http://bit.ly/WileyEEschool. The state’s environmental literacy plan is an important component of North Carolina’s master plan for environmental education, which can be found at www.eenorthcarolina.org/whatisoffice/eeplan/eeplanmain.htm.
# # #
Professor and author David Sobel, Antioch University New England, was keynote speaker.
Newly certified environmental educators, program sponsors and guests from across the state got a chance to meet and mingle at the recent North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Ceremony.
David Sobel, N.C. DENR Secretary Dee Freeman and N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation Director Lewis Ledford pose with rangers and staff that were honored at the certification ceremony. Forty-four rangers were honored, as well as a park office assistant, an interpretation and education specialist, members of state park friends groups and a member of the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
What does it all mean?
This piece by Sarah Yelton, PreK-12 Environmental Education Program Consultant for the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, spells out what NCLI could mean for North Carolina, why we need an Environmental Literacy Plan and the steps being taken to develop it. An earlier version of this story originally appeared in the Environmental Educators of N.C. Newsletter.
My guess is that many of you have heard the term “No Child Left Inside” by now. It’s a term that has been floating around for a few years and is used most often to refer to federal legislation that will have a significant impact on the state of environmental education in North Carolina and across the country. The No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) of 2009 was introduced into the 111th session of Congress (H.R. 2054 and S. 866) on Earth Day 2009. The bill did not make it to the floor during the 111th Congress, but there are reports that it will be introduced again the week of May 23, 2011.
So why is this important for North Carolina? The NCLI Act establishes and sets aside funding for two new federal grant programs for environmental education. School districts will be able to partner with EE centers, non-profit organizations, natural resource agencies, colleges and universities and others to develop and evaluate new programs for teacher professional development and capacity building in environmental education. These might be teacher training institutes, programs that provide outdoor experiences for students, new policy approaches for incorporating EE into the curriculum at the state or district level, or evaluating the effectiveness of EE in improving student achievement, to name just a few examples. But to be eligible for either of these grant programs, North Carolina must have in place a plan that ensures graduates of our state educational system will be environmentally literate.
To position North Carolina to take advantage of the funding made possible through NCLI as soon as it becomes available, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) entered into a partnership to develop a state environmental literacy plan in the fall of 2008. In April of 2009, the Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP) Working Group, which includes stakeholders from the education and environmental communities such as EENC and the NC Association of EE Centers, convened for the first time with DPI and DENR Office of EE and Public Affairs staff to begin developing the environmental literacy plan.
According to the NCLI Act, there are three main objectives for the environmental literacy plan. First, North Carolina must show how our state educational system will prepare students to understand, analyze, and address the major environmental challenges facing North Carolina and the United States. It must also provide for field experiences as part of the regular school curriculum and create programs that contribute to healthy lifestyles through outdoor recreation and sound nutrition. Finally, it should create opportunities for enhanced and ongoing professional development for teachers that improves their environmental knowledge and skills in teaching students about environmental issues, including the use of interdisciplinary, field-based and research-based learning and innovative technology in the classroom.
When complete, North Carolina’s environmental literacy plan will describe how DPI will measure the environmental literacy of students, including relevant academic content standards regarding EE and a description of how the plan relates to graduation requirements. It will also provide for teacher professional development opportunities that support environmental literacy of students and explain how DPI will implement the plan, including securing funding and other necessary support. The team has already completed a first draft of the ELP plan, which is available for public review: http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/ncenvliteracyplan.html. A second draft will be available by late spring or early summer. Individuals can sign up for email alerts for ELP updates at the link.
We will continue to provide updates on the progress of the North Carolina Environmental Literacy Plan and the 2011 No Child Left Inside Act.
Friday, April 16, 2010
· Various Divisions of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources are offering Earth Day and Arbor Day events starting this weekend. See this DENR News Release for locations and times. Events include two 5k Races, a cake-baking contest, games, animal exhibits…something for everyone.
· A wide variety of Earth Day and Arbor Day Events are also being offered by local parks, environmental centers, cities and organizations starting this weekend. See the EE Events list.
· Document those EE Week activities! National EE Week is sponsoring their Photo Blog Contest again this year. Prizes include: First, Ultra Flip Video Camcorder and 30 copies of National Geographic Explorer Magazine; Second, Ultra Flip Video Camcorder and a $50 gift certificate to Acorn Naturalists, and Third, an Ultra Flip Video Camcorder.
. And take some photos for us! We’ll be doing the EE Week/Earth Day/Arbor Day blog again to feature activities around the state. Just send us no more than 3 photos and a short write up of what you did. Event hosts or participants are welcome to send items to Marty.Wiggins@ncdenr.gov.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
An increasing body of research shows that EE can improve academic achievement across the curriculum and can have a positive effect on classroom and social behavior.
Outdoor activity is key as well, as it is essential in developing and strengthening the first component of EE--awareness and sensitivity to the environment. Similar to EE activities, time spent in the outdoors (both organized and free play) has been shown to be developmentally important for children and beneficial for adults, both mentally and physically.
Here are some items to share about the benefits of environmental education and the essential role of outdoor activity:
· National EE Week has a list of EE success stories (with photos!) from 2009.
· The Office’s EE Research Page has links to peer-reviewed research on EE and outdoor activity. Both it and the news feed below has resources you can use when writing articles, grant proposals etc.
· The EE Research News Feed has a list of news and journal articles on EE and the benefits of outdoor recreation, parks and other green spaces.
· This page has profiles of N.C. Certified Environmental Educators, showing how they share their EE training and expertise with others and use it to improve their communities.
· The EE Schools Directory shows how schools in N.C. are integrating EE, school gardens and other types of outdoor learning.
· Need some help on explaining what EE is? The EPA Office of Environmental Education has a good explanations, and for a little more depth and perspective, the online articles for the Basics of Environmental Education Independent Study are a must.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
There are many individuals and organizations just like Rue that are working to make the environmental education and outdoor recreation communities more culturally diverse. EE Week is a good time to reflect on ways to do the same in North Carolina. Here are some available resources and materials:
The North American Association for Environmental Education’s Diversity Council works to increase cultural diversity in EE.
Black Issues Forum, produced by UNC-TV, has the program “Blacks Going Green” available on their Web site (scroll down to episode 2314). It features Yasmin Fozard, a former Environmental Educators of North Carolina Board Member.
National environmental education curricula, including Project WET, Project Learning Tree, Project Wild and Food Land and People have at least part of their materials available in Spanish, as do many other EE resources. Some EE Centers also offer outreach programs that travel to underserved areas, and some can provide programs in Spanish.
The N.C. Division of Forest Resources Outreach Program works to raise awareness of the management assistance and other offered programs and services to minority landowners and does conservation education as well. As a matter of fact, Minority Landowner Magazine is based in North Carolina and is published by a former N.C. DFR employee.
Finally, the Environmental Education & Training Partnership has a great article, Making EE Relevant for Culturally Diverse Groups , that features the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center, an environmental education center in southeast Raleigh. At the end of the article is a great resource section with links to organizations, articles and research on EE, the environment and cultural diversity.
These are just a few resources that are out there. Please let the office know what you are doing and any other resources you use!