Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Strnad Named Governor's Conservation Achievement Award Environmental Educator of the Year

Renee Strnad receives the Environmental Educator of the Year award from David Knight, Assistant Secretary for Natural Resources, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and John Crutchfield, President, North Carolina Wildlife Federation. 

This past weekend the North Carolina Wildlife Federation presented the 48th Annual Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards to 20 winners dedicated to conservation in North Carolina.

One of the most prized awards presented by the NCWF is Environmental Educator of the Year, and few in the North Carolina EE community were surprised that this year's award went to Renee Strnad.

Renee works at N.C. State University in Extension Forestry and is the State Coordinator for Project Learning Tree, a multi-disciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in PreK-12. In addition to her Project Learning Tree role, Renee supports 4-H natural resource programs statewide and serves as a liaison between the College of Natural Resources at N.C. State University and environmental educators, sharing relevant information between the two groups. She has worked extensively with Wiley Elementary School in Raleigh, where students in grades 3-5 get their first glimpse of being a forester, through tree measurement classes facilitated by N.C. State forestry students.

Renee has served since 2008 as a valuable member of the North Carolina Environmental Literacy Plan Working Group. She has been a key part of efforts to align state standards with national environmental literacy guidelines and was instrumental in acquiring the first funding to support implementation of the N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan through a baseline study of environmental literacy in North Carolina students.

In an effort to help North Carolina citizens better understand issues surrounding solid waste, Renee developed a workshop series on municipal solid waste in cooperation with the state office of Environmental Assistance and Outreach. She also serves the community as a member of the Board of Directors for the Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit creative reuse center located in Durham, North Carolina whose mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.

Renee currently serves as President-Elect for EENC and will begin her role as the organization’s President next year. She also supports national environmental education efforts through her work with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). She currently serves as Chair of the Volunteer Committee for the NAAEE conference scheduled for Raleigh in October of 2011.

Strnad is a graduate of Kansas State University with a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. She’s been with N.C. State University since 2000, and has been involved in environmental education since 1997. She has been a  North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator since 2003.

Renee’s passion for environmental education and for inspiring students and teachers is contagious. She is never content to sit back and wait for change. Renee is a true believer that you should “be the change you want to see in the world” and she has applied this philosophy to her work in the field of environmental education. She demonstrates a level of professionalism, teamwork and commitment that makes her a true leader in the field of environmental education.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation first presented its conservation awards in 1958. "Each year we are amazed at the commitment and creativity of North Carolina citizens in protecting wildlife and wild places," stated Tim Gestwicki, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. "Many of our award winners tell us their Governor's Conservation Achievement Award represents the high point of their career-whether they are full-time scientists or full-time volunteer conservationists."

 "This awards program brings together a remarkably diverse group of conservationists to highlight the `good news' about wildlife conservation in North Carolina," said Gestwicki, "Our primary focus is to applaud and honor these people who work so hard for wildlife and the air, water, land that they and all of us depend upon".

These prestigious awards honor those individuals, governmental bodies, associations and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina. These are the highest honors given in the state. By recognizing, publicizing and honoring these conservation leaders - young and old, professional and volunteer - the North Carolina Wildlife Federation hopes to inspire all North Carolinians to take a more active role in protecting the natural resources of our state.

The awards were presented at the Annual Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards banquet and celebration held August 27th at the Hilton RTP in Durham, NC.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to all North Carolina wildlife and its habitat since 1945.

Monday, August 29, 2011

EE Certification Projects: Benefiting Schools and Communities

Another benefit of the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program is that the culminating Action Partnership has direct benefits to the people of our state. In a recent Tryon Daily Bulletin story, Polk Central Elementary Principal Dottie Kinlaw noted that the school's new nature trail, an action partnership project by N.C.Certified Environmental Educator and 4th Grade Teacher Andrea Walter, will be  incorporated into school's science-focused curriculum. The school also hopes to expand their outdoor classroom areas to improve hands-on learning. Christel Walter, another N.C. Certified Environmental Educator, volunteered to help with the project and has led workshops and activities on the trail and in the classroom for the students. View more photos of the Nature Trail on the Polk Central Elementary website . 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

EE Certification Program in Action: Enrollee Aids Teen Nature Educators

The Greensboro News and Record recently published an excellent story about two Rockingham County High School teens that parlayed their love of the outdoors into a hands-on nature class for children at the Woodmont Child Development Center in Reidsville. The class was made possible with the assistance of Cyd Overby with Rockingham County Soil and Water Conservation. Cyd is enrolled in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification program. 

Read all about it!

BOYS GONE WILD:Teens bond over a love of nature — so they’re sharing it with others

Story and photo from the Greensboro News and Record: Reporter, J. Brian Ewing; Photo by Jerry Wolford

North Carolinians that participate in the certification program work daily to improve their communities. Learn more about the program at http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/certification.html

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Environmental Education Focus Charter School Named NC School of Excellence

Evergreen Community Charter School has been named an Honor School of Excellence for the second consecutive year. This designation is for schools in which 90 percent of students pass required North Carolina end-of-grade tests. Evergreen had a 95 percent pass rate.In 2010, Evergreen won the first Exceptional Environmental Education Program presented by the Environmental Educators of North Carolina. Read more in the Asheville Citizen Times.

NC Envirothon Team Places in Top Ten at Canon North American Competition

Great News from New Brunswick, Canada!

The West Johnston High School Envirothon team, the 'Sequoias', came in 6th place out of 45 states and 11 Canadian provinces at the Canon North American Envirothon last week. Held at Mount Allison University in the small town of Sackville, New Brunswick Canada, the weeklong competition challenged the team's knowledge of forestry, soils, aquatics, wildlife and current environmental issues. The Sequoias' team, made up of recently graduated seniors from West Johnston High, includes team advisor Melody Lineberger, Team Captain Frankie Johnson, Casey Burns, Camille Brown, William Higgins and Thomas Lineberger. Each team member received a Canon Powershot camera, a medallion and $1400 each in Canon Scholarship monies. In addition, the team received a plaque for their accomplishment. This is the team's third time representing North Carolina at the national competition.

The Envirothon is North America's largest environmental education competition among high school students and is sponsored by the state’s 96 local soil and water conservation districts and their association, with organizing support from the N. C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation. The Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District assisted in sponsoring the 'Sequoias' trip to Canada. For information about the Envirothon, visit http://www.ncenvirothon.org/  or contact your local soil and water conservation district.

Advisor Melody Lineberger, Thomas Lineberger, Team Captain Frankie Johnson, William Higgins, Casey Burns, Camille Brown and Team Chaperone/Advisor Ethan Lineberger.

(Portions of this story originally appeared in the Johnston County Schools Reporter)

Monday, August 15, 2011

NC Certified Environmental Educator in the News!

The Salisbury Post recently did a story on one of North Carolina's newly certified environmental educators, Michael Lambert, assistant naturalist at Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury. We would love to share other media stories about NC Certified Environmental Educators. Please send them to eecertificationnc@lists.ncmail.net

Photo from the Salibury Post

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wake Teacher Receives Prestigious National Environmental Education Award

Frank McKay, 8th grade math and science teacher, Exploris Middle School, Raleigh, N.C. has received the 2011 Bartlett Merit Award. The Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award, made possible through the generous support of Baxter Healthercare Corporation, was established in 2007 by the National Environmental Education Foundation to distinguish the teachers who best represent Richard C. Bartlett’s passion for and leadership in environmental education. For more than 40 years, Richard C. Bartlett has been inspiring environmental educators nationwide. While serving as president and CEO of Mary Kay, the company received numerous environmental awards. More information about the award and Richard C. Bartlett are available on the NEEF website.

The following story about Frank and his work appears on the NEEF site (reprinted with permission).

“Students leave my class understanding the complexities of environmental issues that impact the economy, public health and shared resources,” said McKay. By working collaboratively to propose solutions to environmental issues, they are better prepared to make decisions as citizens in the 21st century.”

Frank McKay is an 8th grade math and science teacher at Exploris Middle School in Raleigh, N.C. McKay expertly leverages partnerships with local organizations, such as the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the City of Raleigh, to develop award-winning environmental service learning projects and engage his students in real-world environmental education. In 2008, McKay was on the leadership team that established a formal partnership with the N.C. Museum of Natural Science and rewrote the Exploris school mission to focus on global sustainability. Recognized as the 2008 Environmental Educator of the Year by Environmental Educators of North Carolina, McKay is very active in the environmental education community throughout North Carolina. He also authored curriculum on the PBS series “Exploring North Carolina” that has been distributed to all K-8 schools in North Carolina.

McKay’s students connect with the local environment on many levels beyond science. Participating in the Walnut Creek Oral History Project, students gained an understanding of the connection between Raleigh’s cultural history and the wetlands. His students also created resources for Raleigh’s Nature Programs. Over 95 percent of McKay’s students scored at or above grade level in 2010 and the SAS Education Value Added Assessment System indicated that his students achieve at a rate significantly higher than predicted by their incoming level. McKay’s students, particularly the 8th grade girls, have indicated in their self-assessments that their experience in his courses have led them to become more engaged in both science and environmental issues.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 NC Schools in Princeton Review's 2012 Guide to Green Colleges

Ten North Carolina schools have made The 2012 Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges!

The colleges and universities include: Appalachian State University, Brevard College, Duke University, Elon University, Guilford College, North Carolina State University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, Warren Wilson College and Western Carolina University.

This is a great accomplishment, however, these are certainly not the only North Carolina colleges that have environmental education and sustainability programs. The N.C. Environmental Education Certifcation Program and other environmental education programs in the state partner with and promote excellent programs and faculty at other institutions, including Catawba College Center for the Environment, Montreat College, Winston Salem State, UNC Wilmington, Central Piedmont Community College Center for Sustainability, Southeastern Community College and Central Carolina Community College.

You can download the Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges free on their website.

More about the Guide from their website:

The Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges profiles 308 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation. The 220-page guide is the only free, comprehensive, annually updated guide to green colleges. To produce this book we partnered with the United States Green Building Council, an outstanding national nonprofit organization best-known for developing the LEED green building certification program. This past fall, USGBC launched its Center for Green Schools to increase its efforts to drive change in how campuses and schools are designed, constructed, and operated.