Roseboro, N.C. native Gretta Steffens recently completed her N.C. Environmental Education Certification. Gretta is the Environmental Education Coordinator at the Sampson Soil and Water Conservation District. As the Environmental Education Coordinator, Gretta provides workshops for educators, coaches local middle and high school EnviroThon teams and establishes environmental education programs for local schools.
The N.C. Environmental Education Certification program had a profound effect on Gretta. In her words, “I fell in love with nature again and with North Carolina. I have enjoyed meeting people from all around the state who work in environmental education, they have been amazing. I love all the books and tools I have been given to use in my teaching and all the contacts I have made who have been so helpful.”
In particular, a workshop on elk with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences stands out in Gretta’s memory. “I realized one morning at sunrise, standing on a mountain, watching two male elk rattle their horns together, that I had found my calling. The beauty of the moment spoke to my soul and I felt that sense of wonder that you get as a child come flooding back to me.”
For Gretta’s community partnership project, she created a community garden in her hometown of Roseboro. Gretta partnered with a local artist and a master gardener to turn an empty lot in the middle of town into a garden filled with vegetables and fruits to be donated to community members. Supplies, funding, and labor to build the garden were all donated by local citizens and businesses. While there were some bumps in the road, Gretta and her partners were resilient throughout the partnership project. “We applied to a few grants, but never heard anything back. This didn’t discourage anyone, we just worked all the harder and the people of my town took real pride in doing it themselves.”
Gretta’s community garden project has already benefitted the Roseboro community. Shortly after finishing the project, Gretta reported, “The Community Garden has supplied produce to the local Meals on Wheels program, the local nursing home, to home-bound citizens and to socially disadvantaged families. It will be used as a teaching garden, an educational opportunity for local students and for volunteer opportunities for community groups and clubs…The garden has become a social gathering place, a place to learn and relax. It adds to the beauty of the town with its amazing plants and rustic fencing.”
Greta expressed gratitude for the certification program, stating that the workshops and classes she took broadened her way of thinking about the environment. “I see a much bigger picture than I did before. I am much more aware of the effects of future populations and long term global issues.”
Greta also said that the certification program gave her more confidence to teach environmental education lessons. “I think the main way that it has led to changes in my approach is by using more hands on involvement and more time outside. I have learned to make it fun as well as informative.”
To learn more about the NC Environmental Education Certification, visit the Office of Environmental Education website.