Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Educator Spotlight: Lauren Huffstetler

Lauren Huffstetler recently earned her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. Lauren is a natural resources assistant at McDowell Nature Center in Charlotte where she provides environmental programming for school groups, summer camps and visitors.

Lauren says the best part of earning her certification was the diversity of science topics offered. “From birding to plant identification to stream investigations, I was able to explore so many different types of ecosystems from the mountains to the coast. Receiving resources to use in my own programming as well as networking with fellow environmental educators was so beneficial.”

When asked about a stand-out moment in the program, Lauren notes an Advanced WILD workshop on raptors provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “I was able to meet a beautiful Red-tailed hawk and learn more about the sport of falconry. Participants were even able to practice falconry skills by handling some of the raptors with trained professionals.”

For her community partnership project, Lauren coordinated Alamance Creek Week, an opportunity for many organizations throughout Alamance County to engage in a week-long observance of the importance of our local wetlands and waterways. She coordinated the participation of local businesses, families, clubs, schools, and neighborhoods associations in volunteer activities such as paddle cleanups and litter pickups, educational events such as waste management tours, interpretive trail walks, and rain garden workshops as well as recreational activities that ranged from wine and design with a water theme to fun water-themed trivia. “Creek Week events gave residents the opportunity to get their hands dirty, do some hands-on learning, and have some fun contributing to the health of their watershed.”

Lauren said the program led to changes in the way she approaches teaching. “Environmental education should spark curiosity of the natural world and create spaces for students to participate in experiential learning. The environmental education courses were a great reminder that I am an ambassador for the environment and it's my job to instill a love for nature and the outdoors in my audiences, so they too will choose to protect and preserve our natural spaces.”

Lauren also says the program changed the way she views environmental issues. “While I was an avid environmental enthusiast before starting the certification, the courses and programs I attended broadened my horizons to new ideas and deepened my knowledge on topics I had not previously studied.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments to this site are subject to the N.C. Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties. Please identify yourself in posts. Off-topic posts, "spam" or posts with offensive or inappropriate language will be removed.