Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Educator Spotlight: Courtney Long
Courtney Long has completed her NC Environmental Education Certification. Courtney most recently served as the Interpretation and Education Manager for the Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site.
Long led field trips, planned activities for special event days and provided day to day support of the site. When working at the Cradle of Forestry, she started The Science Camel, a citizen science consulting and program planning initiative.
Long says the community partnership project was her favorite part of earning the certification. Her project was a Pink Beds BioBlitz in Pisgah National Forest. The event brings naturalists, forest scientists and other community members together to begin cataloging the biodiversity of the Pink Beds Valley.
“Although a BioBlitz is a great way to capture a species count, my goal was to encourage participants to take a closer look at the forest and germinate that seed for respect and passion for the outdoors. It opened my eyes to the world of citizen science as a tool to connecting people with natural environments,” says Long.
The 36-hour event began with fourth-grade students from a nearby charter school. She says the fourth-grade focus was an effort to support the "Every Kid in a Park" initiative of the United States Forest Service (USFS) which encourages fourth graders to visit federal lands and waters. Students and chaperones participated in activities that emphasized NC’s standard course of study as well as a one-hour BioBlitz guided by environmental educators and volunteers.
For the remainder of the event, approximately 50 volunteers and USFS employees led group walks of various topics, welcomed visitors and manned identification booths. The event provided an opportunity for Forest Service employees and the community to connect and for participants to learn and observe the methods forest scientists use to collect species data.
Does Long think that participating in the certification program led to changes in her approach to teaching? Long says, “At one point, somebody emphasized that each of us are inputting EE values into a stream. That we cannot each fully impact a student or person but collectively we can. This offered a sense of community and altered my approach to teaching others in focusing on the small steps to acquiring environmental literacy, rather than rushing to the big picture.”
For more information about the Cradle of Forestry, visit their website. Visit the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' website to learn more about the NC Environmental Education Certification.