Monday, August 20, 2012

School Gardens and Service Learning--A new North Carolina Tradition!

In North Carolina, UNC TV's Almanac Gardener is a spring and summer tradition. A recent story featured on this popular state-wide program highlighted what is becoming another North Carolina tradition--school gardens and service learning! Watch the segment below on the Guilford County School Garden Network to learn more about the health and educational benefits of school gardens of all types! It is also notable that this program integrates the garden with service learning projects for the students.

                                                   Watch Gardening at School on PBS. See more from Almanac Gardener.

There are many school gardens and outdoor learning environments across North Carolina and research increasingly shows that time spent outside in engaged, hands-on learning has positive health and academic benefits. Learn more on the "Outdoor Classroom" and "EE Research" tags on our environmental education news feed.

Need funding for a school garden or outdoor learning environment? Check out our Environmental Education Grants page--you'll be surprised at how many related grants are available. Also, the Environmental Education Contests page is helpful as well, as several contests also provide support for school gardens, farm-to-school type programs and more.

Orange County Teacher Wins Governor's Conservation Achievement Award

Eric Landon McDuffie, an eighth-grade science teacher at C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough, has been awarded the Governor's Conservation Achievement Environmental Educator of the Year Award by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Each year the North Carolina Wildlife Federation presents the prestigious Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards, an effort to honor individuals, governmental bodies, organizations, and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina. These are the highest natural resource honors given in the state.

Eric has a long history of integrating environmental education and using outdoor learning with his classes. This award specifically stems from Eric's successful efforts to obtain a $355,000 Clean Water Trust Fund grant to improve water quality on the school's campus. The project not only improved water quality--it also provided an outdoor classroom for the school!

Eric has a strong environmental background--he once worked as a fisheries biologist and he is also currently enrolled in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program. Congratulations Eric!

Some of Eric's students already promoting the benefits of outdoor, hands-on learning!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

N.C. Team Places Third at North American Envirothon!

Congratulations to Raleigh's Enloe High School Envirothon Team that recently represented our state at the North American Envirothon competition, held this year in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. They placed 3rd out of 54 teams from across the United States and Canada. This is no small feat folks! Read more about it in this press release from the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. Thanks to Sheila Jones, Environmental Education Specialist with Wake SWCD, for passing this along!

N.C. Team in Top 3 at North American Envirothon!

Three’s a charm and a huge win for North Carolina’s State Champion Envirothon team from Enloe High School in Raleigh.  Putting five heads together, they clinched 3rd Place at the 2012 Envirothon, a week long environmental education competition held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA and sponsored by Canon U.S.A., Inc. 

The five high school students competed with an international field of 54 high school teams—44 U.S. states, nine Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory.  They achieved the second highest Oral presentation score, and tied for the top Wildlife score.  In total, the team took home $15,000 in scholarships -- $3,000 each, an engraved plaque, and Canon products for their school and local sponsor Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.

At the Envirothon, all qualifying teams receive training and are then tested on soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues under the supervision of foresters, soil scientists, wildlife specialists, limnologists, and other natural resources and environmental education professionals.

Teamwork, problem solving and public speaking skills are evaluated as each team offers a panel of judges a 20-minute oral presentation containing recommendations for solving an environmental problem related to the annual theme. This year’s theme was “Low Impact Development” (LID) that focused on how hard surfaces increase stormwater runoff and water quality problems.  LID is a design approach that develops land with the water cycle in mind by incorporating “best practices” that manage and reduce nonpoint source pollution to protect the health of watersheds.

The team’s journey to nationals began at the 2012 Area 4 Envirothon held in March.  Studying after school and on weekends paid off as they captured 1st Place, earning the privilege to advance to the 2012 NC Envirothon in April. Over 2,000 students, 220 teachers and 200 schools participate in the North Carolina Envirothon, “the natural challenge”.  Overall, more than 500,000 teenagers participate each year in the Envirothon throughout North America to win a share of $120,000 in scholarships and Canon products. 

Wake County high schools have placed in the Top Five at the North American  Envirothon three times since 2001 and in the Top Six in 2006!  Wake County middle schools and high schools are invited to form teams and register for the 2013 Envirothon by contacting Sheila Jones at Wake Soil & Water Conservation District  at (919) 250-1065 or