Tuesday, February 16, 2010

N.C. Plan for Environmental Education Released

RALEIGH – The Office of Environmental Education today released the plan that serves as the state’s guiding document for environmental education efforts.

The North Carolina Plan for Environmental Education outlines strategies for increasing environmental literacy and natural resource stewardship in North Carolina.

There has been a recent surge of interest in environmental literacy, especially on the federal level. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills now recognizes environmental literacy as one of the five interdisciplinary themes essential to student success. Moreover, environmental literacy was recently included in the President’s 2010 education budget, and federal legislation has been proposed that would provide states with funding for teachers’ professional development and programming in environmental education through the No Child Left Inside Act.

“Environmental education has a long history in North Carolina, and the renewed focus on increasing environmental literacy makes this a very exciting time for our state,” said Lisa Tolley, director for the Office of Environmental Education.

The goal of environmental education is increased environmental literacy, but there are many benefits to being outside and engaged with the natural environment. Environmental education also fosters an environmental ethic and encourages civic responsibility while promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

Although the previous plans performed extremely well as a guiding framework for the office and other environmental educators in North Carolina, many of the original goals have been accomplished. Demographic and economic changes in the state, advances in the environmental education field and technological innovations necessitated an updated plan.

Members of the N.C. Environmental Education Advisory Council, a volunteer body comprised of representatives from the academic, business, economic development and environmental communities, were crucial in drafting the third edition of the plan. While the third edition retains the core goals and definition of environmental education reflected in previous plans, it is enhanced by the perspectives and ideas of a broader selection of academic, environmental, cultural arts, business and agricultural contributors. The result is an effective guidebook for environmental education in the 21st century.

“This is a pivotal time for environmental education in our country,” said Dee Freeman, secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Citizens will be required to address and solve complex environmental issues affecting the economy, public health and shared natural resources. I think this plan will help bring our state closer to its goals for environmental literacy.”

The plan is available online at http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/ee_plan_web_spread.pdf (low resolution print version http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/ee_plan_web_print.pdf. You can view members of the N.C. Environmental Education Advisory Council at http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/eeadvisorycouncil.htm.

Media Contact: Lisa Tolley, director 919-733-0711

Friday, February 12, 2010

Environmental Education Center Friday and the Great Backyard Birdcount!

Today kicks off the Great Backyard Bird Count! Several N.C. Environmental Education Centers will participate in this event today through Monday. Go to our EE Events page to see a listing of GBBC and bird-related events in honor of the GBBC. No programs listed nearby? Find your nearest EE Center and give them a call—they may have programs that have not been listed, and several have regular birding programs or bird watching clubs that are happy to have guests.

What is the Great Backyard Bird Count? This project, coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, “is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.” Don’t think you have enough time? You can participate just by watching birds for 15 minutes! GBBC welcomes everyone, from beginners to expert birdwatchers and scientists to participate. You can join in the count at any EE Center, park or other green space, and of course, your own back yard. Go to the GBBC Web site to find out how.

(Did you know that bird and wildlife watching has a major economic impact in North Carolina? A 2006 study showed that wildlife watchers spent more than $900 million in N.C.! See the research at the N.C. Birding Trail site.)

Pine Warbler Photo by Mike Dunn, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

Jobs Abound on the N.C. Office of Environmental Education Web Site

Looking for an environmental education job or internship? The N.C. Office of Environmental Education can help.

Over the last few months, the Office has seen a large increase in the number of positions posted on its listserv and EE Jobs and Internships page. Jobs include environmental educator positions and a variety of positions in the environmental and conservation fields that require education and outreach skills.

Since 1996, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education has helped employers and potential employees connect through the North Carolina Environmental Education Listserv (NC-EE). Many environmental educators have related stories of finding great employment opportunities, and many employers have noted that they have found excellent candidates through the list. In a 2009 survey, 51 people out of the 395 that responded said they had found employment via the listserv, and 29 said they had hired someone that saw a job posting on the list. One respondent noted: "My career began from a posting I saw on the EE listserve. I have now been in that position for nine years and manage a national EE curriculum at the state level!"

In 2006, the Office expanded its job assistance role with their new Web site, http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/. This new site features a jobs and internships page that is constantly updated. The new site has been paying off for job-seekers and employers. The Office recently received this message from a major environmental education center's personnel department:

As someone who has recruited for many different types of jobs for the past 7 years, I am always on the lookout for sources of high-quality candidates. The NC-EE listserv and job site has proven many times to be the best resource for individuals who are knowledgeable and passionate about science education in North Carolina. I doubt I would see as many well-qualified candidates for education positions if I didn’t use the Office's resources. They really make my job easier!

For more information on the NC-EE listserv, visit the Office's subscription page. Employers are also free to post jobs on the listserv. Any jobs posted to the list are added to the EE Jobs and Internships listing, or employers can call 919-733-0711 or email Marty.Wiggins@ncdenr.gov for more information.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Environmental Education Center Friday!

This week we head to a unique Environmental Education Center that is part of a college campus.

Catawba College Center for the Environment combines its dedication to academics for Catawba Students with a commitment to sustainability, nature preservation and public outreach.

The Center was the first “green” college campus building in the state. The college notes that the building “is a three-dimensional incarnation of the Center’s curriculum – an excellent teaching tool as well as an environmentally sound project.”

The Center is also the gateway to the Catawba College Ecological Preserve and the Elizabeth Stanback Wildlife Garden. The Preserve is 189 acres that includes natural wetland, ponds and walking trails. Home to numerous birds and other native species, it serves to provide a natural learning environment for the surrounding region. The Wildlife Garden features more than 160 different native plant species.

The Center offers a wide range of initiatives and programs on sustainability and environmental education. Some focuses include air quality, faith and the environment, green technology and food systems. Visit their Web site for more information and to view photos and videos of the building, surroundings and programs.

Learn more about all of N.C.’s Environmental Education Centers…

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NCLI Coalition Announces "Major Victory" for Environmental Literacy

The following statement was released from the No Child Left Inside Coalition on February 2, 2010.

Environmental Literacy included in Obama's new Education Budget: Historic First

We just logged a major victory for No Child Left Inside, perhaps our most significant. President Obama’s budget that was released Monday, February 1, includes environmental literacy in the U.S. Department of Education budget for the very first time. We now have the Obama administration officially on our side, and better yet, we're in their budget.

President Obama and Secretary Duncan have made innovation and student achievement a major platform of this Administration and as a result have included environmental literacy in a new program. The proposed budget includes $1.0 billion for a new Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education program designed to improve instruction to support college- and career-readiness standards, in part through the use of technology to deliver high-quality content.

The new program includes three components:

1. Literacy: $450 million, an increase of $36.7 million, to consolidate seven existing Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs into a new program that would help states and local education authorities improve literacy skills by supporting professional development and improved instructional materials.

2. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): $300 million, an increase of $119.5 million or 66 percent, to expand the Federal investment in improved teaching and learning of STEM disciplines, especially in high-need schools and school systems, and prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers.

3. A Well-Rounded Education: $265 million, an increase of $38.9 million or 17 percent, to consolidate seven current authorities and expand support for the subjects important to a complete curriculum, including: history, the arts, foreign languages, environmental literacy, and economic and financial literacy.

What does it mean? In the short term, it means that we can expect President Obama’s education bill (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly known as No Child Left Behind) to include language from the No Child Left Inside Act, which will help force the hand of Congress, where we already have 87 House cosponsors and 17 Senate cosponsors. We still have a great deal of work to do, and we will continue to count on you to take action and stay involved. In the meantime, congratulations to all of you—you made this happen!

While this is a only one step in the process, it is a big one. Thank YOU! View a related story published in The Washington Post.