A park ranger from Hanging Rock State Park is making a difference in communities across North Carolina through environmental education. Darius Pollard completed the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program offered through the Department of Environmental Quality, which he began as an AmeriCorps member at New River State Park in Ashe County.
As part of the community partnership component of his environmental education certification, Darius spearheaded a campaign to improve the health of the New River by engaging private landowners in efforts to restore easements or buffers along the river. Through a partnership with the National Committee for the New River, Darius arranged for funding to cost-share with landowners who wanted to restore their easements on the river. Darius’ efforts have not only helped with erosion and sediment pollution in the river but they have successfully educated property owners and engaged them in good management practices.
In addition to educating adults, Darius has had the opportunity to educate children through environmental education and interpretation programs at state parks. He credits the certification program for changes in his teaching approach. “Participating in the EE program changed my approach by increasing my knowledge but also by broadening my knowledge and interpretation styles for different audiences. Before the EE program, my approach to children was similar to that of adults but through this program I have learned that, for good interpretation, I must approach children in a much different way. Through workshops such as Growing up WILD, and Project CATCH, I feel much more comfortable approaching any age group,” he said.
There are certified environmental educators in every region of North Carolina. You can view programs offered by educators like Darius on the environmental education calendar at www.eenorthcarolina.org
The N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program is a professional development program for classroom teachers and nonformal educators. The program is administered by the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs in the Department of Environmental Quality. For more information about the program, visit www.eenorthcarolina.org
*Growing up WILD and Project CATCH are programs offered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.