Monday, August 24, 2015

Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators - Now Available

The second edition of Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators has been released through the North American Association for Environmental Education, the University of Florida and Cornell University.

Edited by Martha C. Monroe and Marianne E. Krasny, this publication is a resource to help nonformal environmental educators learn more about the field of environmental education, gain skills to improve their practice, and over time, build a community of practitioners to advance the field.

The publication begins by examining five interrelated societal trends that are providing new opportunities for the field of environmental education. These trends include concern about the psychological well-being of people with limited access to nature, urbanization, social stresses including those brought on by climate change, and the academic achievement of students. The authors emphasize that all of these trends pose significant challenges to the field of environmental education but at the same time, present exciting and innovative opportunities for the future of the field:

Environmental educators are joining forces with youth and community development professionals; museums, zoos, and botanical gardens; and urban green space managers and planners to come up with new practices that reflect societal concerns. Many of these practices occur outside of the classroom, involve youth and elders working together, and engage a diversity of professionals and participants in urban as well as suburban and rural communities.
Across the Spectrum helps newcomers to the field orient their practices within a body of knowledge and experience that has accumulated since the formal launching of environmental education in the 1970s. It also introduces readers to environmental education methods that reflect recent societal trends highlighting seven approaches that address environmental and social challenges through communities, agencies, nonformal programs, and schools. Finally, the authors hope this publication will help create a community of interested professionals working in diverse settings but sharing common concerns.

The authors also note the importance of citizen science and service learning in engaging learners in real-world activities that provide benefits to the learners, communities and researchers. 

New chapters may be added as new practices emerge and opportunities for public online feedback on individual chapters are planned.

Across the Spectrum is now available for download at

Friday, August 7, 2015

Young NC Citizen Scientist Donates Valuable Specimen to Museum of Natural Sciences

Here's a great story that proves how valuable the observations of citizen scientists and environmentally-minded individuals can be. This specimen will help scientists study and track this invasive species of shrimp, which has ecological and economic importance as this non-native could have negative impacts on native shrimp populations. Thanks to Dr. Bronwyn Williams, Research Curator of Crustaceans at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, for sharing this story and allowing us to use the text and photos. 

 Last Friday (7/31/2015), the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences Crustacean Collection received an exciting and important donation: an Asian tiger shrimp, Penaeus monodon. The donation was made by Jimmy Epps, who caught the shrimp in autumn 2014 in his casting net in Bogue Sound, Carteret Co., NC. Jimmy officially recorded his catch via the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database.

The specimen is a rare red-striped morph, which, in combination with its fantastic provenance data, is an invaluable addition to the Collection as it provides critical data for conservation efforts, and will undoubtedly play an important role in education and outreach about invasive species at and beyond the Museum. 

The Asian tiger shrimp is native to tropical marine habitats of the Indo-West Pacific, but as a staple of global aqua-farming beginning in the late 1960s, has been widely introduced beyond the bounds of its native range. The species was first reported from coastal waters of the southeastern U.S. in
1988 following the escape of ~2,000 shrimp from a SC aquaculture facility. Hundreds of Asian tiger shrimp were captured in trawl nets during the first couple of months post-escape. Interestingly, the species subsequently went unreported from coastal U.S. waters for an 18 year stretch, resurfacing off the Gulf coast of Alabama in 2006. Reports since the 2006 Alabama sighting indicate that the Asian tiger shrimp has spread extensively along southeastern and Gulf coasts of the U.S., from North Carolina to Texas (

Thursday, August 6, 2015

State Parks, Museum of Natural Sciences Partner to Make Kids "Dragonfly Detectives"

(Re-posted with permission from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation blog)
Just above the surface of an old farm pond at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, the airspace is buzzing with dragons. It’s the perfect spot for young researchers to test their agility by balancing on logs while swinging their nets.
dragonfly detectives 1Dragonfly Detectives is an innovative partnership of the state parks system and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences that trains 4th and 8th graders as dragonfly citizen scientists at five state parks – Jordan Lake, Merchants Millpond, Lake Waccamaw, Cliffs of the Neuse and Goose Creek. During six separate field trips to a state park, students learn how to identify species, how to describe dragonfly behavior and how to capture and mark them on the wing.
An important lesson for the kids is that science requires a lot of patience and careful record-keeping. The students sit in total silence for multiple three-minute sessions while they count their study species, the crimson red Carolina saddlebags.
Read the whole post about this great partnership on the N.C. State Parks Blog

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wake County Teacher Uses N.C. Environmental Education Certification to Benefit School and Community

Bill Mulvey, a teacher at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, recently completed his North Carolina Environmental Education Certification.

Bill collaborates with other Athens teachers in all departments on student projects and focuses on student-centered research. He has made a large impact on the school and community through his community partnership project which included creating an arboretum and adjoining outdoor classroom at the school. The community-based project is a requirement for environmental education certification.

When considering options for his project, Bill noticed that there were a lot of people using the high school from the community.  “The school is a traditional high school but also houses a public library, night classes and summer classes creating a very active community use situation,” Bill said. He saw this as an opportunity to educate people about the plants and landscape of the school while providing a place to teach students about native plants and their uses.

The community around Athens Drive High School is very diverse. During the school year, the building is bustling with 9th through 12th graders, people attending evening classes through Wake Technical Community College, and patrons of the public library.  During the summer Wake County Public Schools holds summer science programs, the community college has evening classes, and the public library continues to use the facility so locating the arboretum at the entrance to the school was a great opportunity to educate people about plants and their importance.

Placards were used to label the plants and include the common and scientific names and information about how the plants are used by both people and animals. An outdoor classroom area was also constructed for teaching in the arboretum and for use by Athens Drive and Wake Technical Community College teachers. The classroom area is adjacent to the walkway and provides a quiet place to learn and teach.

Bill’s enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors isn’t new. He discovered his love for the outdoors at an early age through his parents. “I learned to love the outdoors at an early age camping with my parents at Julian Price Park along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We often took weekends to camp, hike and canoe. My parents were both avid birders and my dad took me on canoe trips all through my teens. I credit my folks with my love of the outdoors and educating people about the need for preserving it,” he said.

Bill mentioned that there were many experiences during his time in the environmental education certification program that stood out. “There are so many that were so good it’s hard to pick one! I remember going for a mountain stream invertebrates class with Tanya Poole and electroshocking fish in the Davidson River as well as catching invertebrates from the substrate in the stream. It was such a fun and informative class in a great place,” he said.

Moving forward, Bill hopes to begin a new career in environmental education when he retires from teaching. He plans on using his environmental education certification to seek seasonal positions with the National Park Service and State Parks throughout the U.S. teaching environmental education related topics.

To read more about Bill go here.