Thursday, July 19, 2012

Raleigh Teens Competed in National Canon Envirothon Competition...

Asheville, NC had the honor of hosting the 2009 Canon Envirothon!

Well, as you know from the story above, our North Carolina Team did quite well! We decided to leave this story as it gives some background information on N.C. Envirothon. We have also added a few Envirothon facts the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and Steve Bennett, state Envirothon Coordinator with the NCDA&CS Division of Soil and Water Conservation sent us:

*The North Carolina Envirothon began in 1991 and celebrated its 20th Anniversary last year in 2011.

*This summer's 2012 Canon Envirothon marked the environmental education program's 25th Anniversary.

*The N.C. Envirothon has hosted the North American Canon Envirothon twice in Asheville.

*North Carolina is 2nd only behind Pennsylvania for having the most teams score consistently in the Top 10 over the Envirothon's 25 years!

*North Carolina had the first blind and low vision team in the nation compete in a regional Envirothon. The "Green Knights" from the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh competed at the 2011 Area 4 Envirothon in Bunn, NC. 

Previous story: North Carolina's 2012 state champion Envirothon team, Enloe High School's "Sub-Chronic Exposure," is on their way to the National Canon Envirothon competition. Teams from 45 states and 9 Canadian provinces will compete in this academic contest which requires a comprehensive knowledge of several environmental topics and issues. This year's focus is nonpoint source pollution and low impact development. The competition is July 22-27 at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. In 2009, it was hosted on the campus of UNC Asheville.

You can read more about the team on the Friends of Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District blog.

The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is proud to support the efforts of N.C. Envirothon. Congratulations to all the North Carolina competition winners! Second place went to "D C Endemic," a homeschool group from Davidson county, and third place went to the Durham 4-H "Natural Disasters."

The Canon Envirothon is North America's largest environmental education competition for high school students. In North Carolina, Envirothon 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. N.C. Environthon offers competitions for both high school and middle school students and also offers trainings each summer for Envirothon team advisors. To find out how to participate, visit or contact your local soil and water conservation district.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Environmental Educator Named Tar Heel of the Week

Renee with her husband Scot Pressley
Renee Strnad, an environmental educator for N.C. State University Extension Forestry and the state Project Learning Tree coordinator was named Tar Heel of the Week by the News & Observer for her accomplishments as an environmental educator. 

Renee is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and currently serves as the President of Environmental Educators of North Carolina. She was recently awarded Project Learning Tree Gold Star Award, the highest honor bestowed by PLT to a PLT program coordinator in recognition of their years of exemplary service to Project Learning Tree.

Congratulations to Renee! Go here to read the story

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grandfather Mountain Director of Education and Natural Resources Receives National Honor

Congratulations to Jesse Pope! Jesse is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator and serves as the current past president on the board of the N.C. Association of Environmental Education Centers. It is noteworthy that a tourism industry group recognized a career environmental educator for this honor!

More details in the press release below from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation:

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, NC-- The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is proud to announce that Director of Education and Natural Resources, Jesse Pope has been selected as a member of the "Forty for the Future," travel's leading talent project by the Southeast Tourism Society.

The purpose of the award is to recognize 40 young professionals under the age of 40 from across the country in the tourism industry.  The goal is to highlight certain younger professionals whose work and commitment to travel and tourism has made a positive difference.

Jesse Pope came to Grandfather in 2002 as a wildlife keeper and backcountry ranger.  In 2004, Pope's extraordinary knowledge and friendly demeanor led management to ask him to develop a Naturalist program for Grandfather Mountain.     

During his tenure as Chief Naturalist, Pope took the program from the seed of an idea to the experience that visitors report adds the most value to a visit.  In 2010, he was named Director of Education and Natural Resources, managing three full time and three part time employees.

As Director of Education and Natural Resources for the Stewardship Foundation, Jesse develops and oversees educational experiences, conservation efforts, and resource management; ensures that educational programming aligns with GMSF's mission and state and national guidelines for environmental education; oversees all aspects of education, including formal and non-formal programs, and guided hikes; promotes GMSF's efforts to the public and to the educational and biological communities.

"Pope is the most knowledgeable person on the mountain about most anything in his field: birding, plant identification, the characteristics of distinct Appalachian ecological communities, trail maintenance, high angle search and rescue, opening cars when the keys have been locked inside and much more," said Penn Dameron, president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

He is certified in everything from Environmental Education to National Park Service Eastern High Angle Rescue and is currently enrolled in a Masters program for Environmental Education at Montreat College.  The vast spectrum of knowledge Pope has acquired through his educational background and his 10 years of experience meld with his naturally gregarious personality to make him a truly unique educator. All of Grandfather Mountain is his classroom.

For more information about Southeast Tourism Society and the "Forty for the Future Award," please visit the Southeast Tourism Society website at

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth's resources.  For more information, visit or call 800-468-7325.

NCSU Researchers Visit Environmental Literacy Center to Test Environment-based Learning Game

Guest post by Deja Smith, N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs Summer Intern
A group of researchers from North Carolina State University Department of Computer Science recently visited the Environmental Literacy Center to test their prototype video game, “Future Worlds.” The scientists collaborated with a group of middle school summer campers from the Museum of Natural Sciences’ Investigate Lab camp to test the prototype. The principal investigators on the project are Jonathon Rowe, James Lester, Brad Mott, Eleni Lobene, James Minogue and Marc Russo. 

Future Worlds is an interactive cyberlearning tool explores the causes and effects of different factors on environmental systems and how human actions can have negative and positive effects on the environment.  The layout is planned to be in “Sim City” style where the participant is an outside user controlling different environmental factors and examining those effects on the environment.

The campers worked with a paper prototype of the game as well as a Microsoft Surface 40” multi- touch computer table.  Phrases such as “This is awesome!” “Wow this is so cool!” “I can’t wait to show my friends this” and “I learned a lot, but still had fun” were heard throughout the room. Future Worlds is still in its beginning stages and is expected to be completed in 2013. It is set to be an interactive exhibit in the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences the same year.   

The Environmental Literacy Center is operated by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and is located on the 3rd floor of the Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center in Raleigh.  The center is open to educators by appointment to use for environmental education-related research, small meetings and other work sessions. Contact the N.C. Office of Environmental Education for details.