Monday, August 12, 2019

Educator Spotlight: Bruce Young

Congratulations to Bruce Young on completing the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program. Young is a board member for the Virginia Association for Environmental Education, the Virginia state affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Young currently serves as director-at-large for the association and chairs the association’s communications and outreach action team, serves as co-chair for their 2020 conference and represents the association on the Virginia Environmental Education Certification Advisory Board.

In his free time, Young designs costumes and props for local community theater productions and is a volunteer with the Rivanna Conservation Alliance providing instruction during field trips with local school groups. He also enjoys exploring Virginia’s local parks and nature centers such as Shenandoah National Park with his camera, binoculars and field guides.

When asked about his favorite part of earning his certification, Bruce says there was so much that stood out for him. “I think that being able to attend trainings across North Carolina and explore my home state's natural and cultural history was really exciting for me. Also meeting so many wonderful people at various trainings and events was really exciting for me.”

Bruce did note two specific experiences that stood out for him during the certification process. One was a Colonial and Native American Games Workshop at Stone Mountain State Park with Brian Bockhahn, a regional education specialist with North Carolina State Parks. The other experience was a trip to the Sandhills to learn about the longleaf pine ecosystem. Young was able to see a red-cockaded woodpecker at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve and to view a pitch, tar, and turpentine demonstration while learning about the history of the naval store industry in North Carolina.

For Young’s community partnership project, he used the North American Association’s Environmental Education Guidelines for Professional Development to create a workshop for Virginia’s Environmental Education Certification program. Young says the workshop serves as the "kick-off" for educators interested in becoming Virginia Certified Environmental Educators and provided a baseline for best practices in environmental education. “Prior to this workshop, there was very little professional development available for non-formal educators that weren't purely curriculum or programmatic in focus. This workshop provides the tools for environmental educators at all levels to self-assess their work, programs, and teaching styles to see where they may excel or may want to explore areas of growth.”

When asked if participating in North Carolina’s certification program led to any changes in his approach to teaching, Young said it had brought his focus closer to home. “Much of my teaching is very focused now on the bioregion that I am in which previously would have focused on ecosystems or animals elsewhere. I also have increased my comfort working with early child audiences due to the various workshops like Growing Up WILD and the PLT Early Childhood Guide that have become the backbone of much of my freelance work.”

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