Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
|Megan's Turtle Basking Project at Bass Lake in Holly Springs|
Megan Rodgers Lane recently completed her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. Megan is the public science and internship coordinator for the UNC Institute for the Environment's (IE) Center forPublic Engagement with Science. “I work on many different projects all with the goal of engaging diverse audiences in environmental science and public health using hands-on demonstrations, interactive workshops, and science communication. We want the public to better understand how the environmental science emerging from UNC-Chapel Hill is important and relevant in our daily lives. K-12 teachers and students are among some of my favorite audiences with which to engage.”
|Lake Observations by Citizen Scientists and Satellites Project|
|Megan at home with her backyard chickens|
Megan says the certification program helped advance her career. “Earning my EE certification allowed me to take a larger role in some of the environmental education programming we offer within the Center for Public Engagement with Science.” Megan says her favorite part of earning her certification was getting to know so many people in the environmental education field. “Everyone I met, and continue to meet, has been so knowledgeable about their work and excited about the environment and teaching. I feel so lucky to be part of such a welcoming and fun community. I appreciated the opportunity to take so many different workshops on new topics and visit different areas of the state, and I look forward to continuing that trend as I fulfill my CE credits every year.” Megan notes a few of the workshops that she really enjoyed included NC CATCH, the Great Backyard Bird Count, and Plant Identification: Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers. “I also really enjoyed working on my community partnership project, which involved building turtle basking platforms and applying my expertise in science communication to develop signage for Bass Lake Park in Holly Springs.”
The certification experience that really stood out for Megan and encouraged her to pursue the certification program was the Environmental Education course at NC State University taught by Dr. Gail Jones and Renee Strnad during the fall 2017 semester. “At the time, I was enrolled in the MEA graduate program and was looking for an elective course that interested me and filled a requirement for my degree. I think fall 2017 was the first semester that the course was offered, and I was extremely lucky that I found it and that it was approved to count toward my degree. This course allowed me to earn credit for Basics of Environmental Education and Methods of Teaching Environmental Education, but more importantly, it solidified my interest in environmental education and my desire to learn more and get more involved.”
For her community partnership project, Megan built turtle basking platforms and installed signage about why turtles bask in the sun for Bass Lake Park. “I live near Bass Lake and visit the park to walk and run almost weekly. During my visits, I often see park visitors pointing at the turtle basking platforms I built and reading the informational signage, which reminds me of the impact my project has on the community. I hope the platforms and signage last for many years and many people get to enjoy them and learn about why turtles bask in the sun.”
|Megan at the Water Science and Stewardship Progran for teachers|
She says the program also changed the way she views environmental issues. “After participating in the certification program, I now look at environmental issues with a more open-minded approach, instead of bringing in my previous biases. I appreciate learning and teaching about all sides of an issue and letting participants discover and make their own assumptions. All in all, I’ve embraced the emphasis on education, not advocacy.”
Thursday, April 21, 2022
NC DEQ Secretary Biser awards NCSU Senior and Park Scholar Grace Baucom with Environmental Education Certificate
|From Left: Secretary Biser, Renee Strnad, Dr. Daniels, Grace Baucom, Dr. Floyd, Eva Feucht and Dr. Jones|
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary, Elizabeth S. Biser joined Dr. Myron Floyd, Dean, College of Natural Resources and Dr. Harry Daniels, Senior Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University this morning to present senior Grace Baucom with her NC Environmental Education Certificate. Grace is earning a double major in Extension Education from the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences and in Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, both in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her concentration is Community Food Systems within the Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems degree.
Eva Feucht, Director, Park Scholarships Program was also in attendance to recognize Grace who is Park Scholar. The Park Scholarships Program brings exceptional students to NC State, based on outstanding accomplishments and potential in scholarship, leadership, service, and character.
Grace has three minors--in Environmental Education, Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management and Spanish. NC State is the only university to offer a minor in environmental education and DEQ partners with the minor program to make environmental education certification available to students. The minor is a collaboration between the College of Natural Resources and the College of Education. Kathryn Stevenson, Associate Professor, College of Natural Resources, Renee L Strnad, Extension Forestry, College of Natural Resources and Dr. Gail Jones, Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor in the College of Education were present to celebrate Grace’s accomplishment.
“It is an honor to award Grace with her Environmental Education Certification. I was so impressed with all her accomplishments at NC State, and I know I will be seeing more of Grace in the future as she pursues her career goals,” noted Secretary Biser upon presenting the certificate.
Grace is active in the campus community as a Food-Inspired Resilience and Equity Intern for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and as a Communications Assistant for the Agricultural and Human Sciences Department. She is passionate about asset-based community development, nonformal education, and program evaluation. She lives with her family, along with a menagerie of pets, plants, livestock, and honeybees, on a small homestead outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In her personal time, she enjoys photography, crafting, listening to podcasts, and going for very long walks – her record so far is a half marathon.
When asked what experience in the program stood out, Grace said it was during the Spring 2021 semester when she took "Environmental Education in Practice," a NC State course taught by Dr. Kathryn Stevenson and Lauren Gibson.
Grace’s partnership project requirement continues to have positive community impacts: “I completed my community partnership project during the summer of 2020, in response to a community need for virtual resources that could help young students experience the outdoors during the early stages of COVID-19. I researched, filmed, and edited a 10-minute educational video about honeybees, using my family's farm and hives as my "set." This project was in partnership with Orange County Cooperative Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program. In addition to sharing the finished video on their YouTube channel, they included my video in a Farm to School curriculum for fourth grade students in Orange and Person Counties. In this way, my project was able to directly reach hundreds of young students, and provide a means of incorporating nature exploration into remote learning.” Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe-TQjxyflg&feature=youtu.be
Grace notes that participating in the EE Certification program was instrumental in the development of her nonformal education philosophy. “It has allowed me to explore and implement environmental education lesson design in accordance with best practices, it sparked my interest in program evaluation, and it taught me the critical importance of culturally and developmentally appropriate instruction. I now approach teaching through the lens of growth and exploration, and I've been motivated to explore career paths in evaluation, lesson and curriculum design, and educational communication.”
Grace also felt the program gave her new perspectives on the environment and environmental education. “After participating in the certification program, I think about environmental issues with more nuance, and I'm highly aware of framing and context: I pay closer attention to what information is provided – and left out – of articles and speeches about these issues, and what inclusion or omission might suggest. I am also more focused on systems-level change, and I have an increased understanding of conversation science, as well as the distinction between education and advocacy.”
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
On February 23rd, the Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs held a Students@Work℠ virtual career panel for 23 Science Olympiad students from Moore Square Magnet Middle School. The Students@Work℠ program serves a critical role in our state's work-based learning efforts by helping local students become aware of potential careers and the necessary skillsets for those careers.
The 2022 Students@Work℠ initiative includes 150 employers and approximately 27,000 students statewide. During the month of February and March, students will engage in virtual programs that will help them learn firsthand about the careers available throughout the state and in their local communities.
During the NCDEQ career panel, students had the opportunity to talk with four professionals from different divisions in NCDEQ including:
Victoria Thayer, Ph.D., a conservation biologist with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, is the Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator for North Carolina and responds to marine mammal strandings on estuarine and ocean shorelines. Vicky performs necropsies on stranded dolphins, whales, seals, and manatees to collect information on life history, disease, contaminants, and feeding ecology. Vicky teaches for NC State University CMAST and collaborates with UNC Wilmington, NC, Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the NC Maritime Museum, and local towns and municipalities.
The Students@Work℠ program is a joint initiative between the
North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) and the North Carolina
Department of Public Instruction.
Friday, January 28, 2022
Battista Bennett recently completed her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. Battista lives in Sampson County and last fall she completed an internship with Jones Lake State Park. She has a passion and love for the outdoors and hopes to become a park ranger with NC State Parks so she can educate others. Battista also enjoys hiking, bird watching, and nature photography.
When asked about her favorite part of earning her certification, Battista says it was the opportunity to meet and connect with like-minded people in person and virtually. She says her teaching experience in environmental education really stood out for her. “I gained confidence for teaching inside and outside while using a hands-on approach.”
lanned and coordinated the construction and installation of two benches and a pop-up educational program at Browns Creek Bike Park and Nature Trail in Elizabethtown NC. She partnered with Cape Fear Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. She provided information on smart ways to hike at Browns Creek and how to utilize apps to identify plants, birds, snakes, and trees. Battista says the benches provide places for people to rest near steep trails and at the same time they can observe nature. “Near the benches are various trees, birds, and plants that are fun for visitors to identify.”
Battista says the program change her approach to teaching. “As a nonformal educator, I gained confidence and a better understanding of how to break down educational programs for younger audiences.”
Monday, January 3, 2022
Rachel Smith, an educator at McDowell Nature Center with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification.
Rachel is an environmental educator and outdoor travel enthusiast. “I love sharing and teaching what I know about the natural world in North Carolina as a native of the state. I enjoy traveling and visiting nature preserves and parks to discover new species of wildflowers, butterflies, and birds that I can check off my life-lists. When traveling I love exploring new ecosystems for their weather, climate and topography and finding dark sky locations to bring my telescope to working on my new hobby of astrophotography.”
Rachel says her favorite part of the program was being able to complete some of the requirements that were more challenging for her such as the documentation for the teaching and partnership project. “My father passed unexpectedly this fall and it really changed my perspective on some life goals, and I wish he was able to see me complete my certification.”
When asked what experience stood out for her, Rachel says it was the outdoor instructor-led experiences. “I learn the best by hands-on, active learning where I can reinforce the knowledge almost immediately. These learning opportunities gave me a chance to expand my own knowledge by allowing me to find and work on my 'weaker' subjects. The outdoor experiences and along with the other workshops led me to meet some incredible environmental educators across the state and a network for resources and new programming ideas.”
For her community partnership project, Rachel worked with the Carolina Butterfly Society to develop and lead butterfly programs at the preserve. She provided butterfly hikes on the weekends and a summer camp 'fieldtrip' to the piedmont prairie for a butterfly hunt. She also created a custom butterfly field guide for the society’s annual trip to the National Butterfly Center in Texas. “My project engaged the members of my community because it brought to the forefront the importance of butterflies, not only locally, but nationally and globally. While leading hikes and butterfly specific programming allows the community the opportunity to discover local species and delve into what makes butterflies an important pollinator. Also, it can lead into other opportunities for programming and community development like planting pollinator gardens in backyards and public areas in neighborhoods.”
Rachel says the program has changed the way she approaches teaching. “I feel that I am doing more inquiry-based, hands-on programming versus more lecture-based programs that encourages participants to be actively engaged in problem solving and critical thinking.”
Meredith Owens, a nature programmer at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary and at White Deer Park in Garner, recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification. In her role, Meredith plans and delivers programs and attends to the facilities on site. In her personal time, she likes to knit and read.
When asked about her favorite part of earning her certification, Meredith says it was meeting other people in the field that shared the same interests and traveling to other sites. “I loved going to different parks and seeing different parts of the state that I may not have visited if it weren’t for the classes offered at those parks.”
Meredith says one class really stood out for her while getting her certification. “I love animals, so when I went to a class about reptiles and amphibians where live animals were present, that was a highlight for me. And it was such a nice experience, everyone else in the class was just as excited as I was to meet the animals.”
For her community partnership project, Meredith prepared a large area at White Deer Park for a future town sensory garden. This involved working with the town of Garner and with a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, from North Carolina State University to remove overgrown shrubs and grasses and invasive plants around the nature center. Meredith says the sensory garden will benefit anyone in the community who goes to White Deer Park. This includes people who may have a disability, use a mobility aid, or have a visual impairment, because the sensory garden will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Meredith says the certification program gave her the tools that she needed to teach kids about the environment in different ways and strengthened her view on volunteerism. “I have a new appreciation for community projects and volunteer projects, in general. Using the power of the people is such a unique and instrumental tool that I feel like we need to take advantage of more often. People in the community like to help take care of the parks and forests that they live near.”
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Lauren Daniel, Water Education Coordinator, NC Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Water Resources
Water Education found a new stride in 2021 as it adapted programs and partnerships to reach communities throughout North Carolina. We are celebrating all the great achievements from the year as we plan for bigger and better water education opportunities in 2022.
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
The NC Department of Environmental Quality and the NC Department of Public Instruction’s Science Section will co-host the 11th Annual Nonformal Educators’ Meeting on December 9. Last year, the virtual meeting attracted more than 140 educators in all regions of the state and this year’s meeting promises to reach even more educators.
Each year in December, the two departments bring the nonformal education community together to talk about ways they can partner with classroom teachers in North Carolina. This unique collaboration supports nonformal educators who provide environmental science to school-age children and encourages collaboration between schools, school districts, NCDPI, and the nonformal education community to support science learning and environmental literacy.
The meeting also provides an opportunity for educators to get updates on curriculum standards from NCDPI and resources to help align their educational programs and field trips with the state’s essential standards for science.
Most of this year’s discussion will focus on how nonformal educators can partner with schools to create outdoor classrooms and other learning spaces on schoolgrounds. Several teachers will highlight ways they have partnered with nonformal educators and organizations to develop creative outdoor learning opportunities for their students. In addition to these models, there will be a session featuring programs that come to the school to help develop wildlife habitats, encourage students to participate in citizen science, and provide resources on how to use the outdoors to teach the required standards in not only science but across disciplines.
The meeting will feature a panel discussion with teachers and a principal to learn on how nonformal programs can best meet the current needs of classroom teachers while increasing environmental literacy and knowledge of North Carolina’s diverse ecology and natural resources.
This partnership between the state’s education agency and the state’s environmental agency is unique to North Carolina. It was highlighted in the National Science Teachers Association’s online journal, Connected Science Learning in the May-July 2017 edition (Volume 1, Issue 3). You can read the article entitled Collaboration + Good Coffee = Connected Science Learning Success: State Agencies Partner to Unite Formal and Informal Educators in North Carolina online at this link.
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Yanina Salerno, a nonformal educator from Buncombe County recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification.
Yanina is a forest guide and offers nature walks that give participants an opportunity to learn about their natural environment and how to be in relationship with Mother Earth according to indigenous teachings and knowledge.
When asked about her favorite part of the program, Yanina said it was the plethora of information, resources, and teachings she received from so many amazing and passionate teachers through the years. She says her trip to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont for a long weekend to participate in their Naturalist program was a unique experience and one that really stood out for her. "Living, learning and sharing meals alongside so many other nature-loving students of all ages was an experience I will cherish forever."
For her community partnership project Yanina created a trans-cultural medicine wheel Bee City USA certified pollinator garden on a local greenway. “The project brought community members and local organizations together during workdays and it will be a continued source of environmental and cultural education for the community as well as a continued benefit to the ecosystem.”
When asked if the program changed her approach to teaching or her views of environmental issues, Yanina said the certification helped her look at her own program from more than one perspective and that helped her to further enrich the program. “Now I look at things like learning styles, curriculum, evaluation, qualitative and quantitative data and how I can use these tools to enrich my program. The certification program has developed and deepened my understanding of environmental issues and has also given me resources to be a better steward of our natural environment.”
Monday, December 6, 2021
Katherine Baxter, a horticulturist at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Gaston County recently earned her NC Environmental Education Certification. Before joining the botanical garden, Katherine worked as an environmental educator at Haw River State Park for five years. As an environmental educator, Katherine is enthusiastic about cultivating an appreciation for nature in every audience. In her personal time, Katherine enjoys spending time growing vegetables and flowers in her garden, walking in the woods, and watching wildlife.
When asked what part of the program stood out to Katherine, she said it was the “Playing Out” or Playful Pedagogy workshop series by Linda Kinney at the NC Zoo. “I found those workshops unique, fascinating, and engaging. This workshop series is enthralling to me because I am interested in the relationship between childhood play outdoors and developing a connection with nature. Through this experience, I gained an appreciation for freely chosen play and I learned practices to support my student’s play.”
For her community partnership project, Katherine identified a need for an educational garden in her community and established a pollinator garden that provides park guests of all ages the opportunity to appreciate and learn about the importance of pollinators and native plant species. “The pollinator garden is a beautiful, interactive space to increase environmental awareness for the community while providing essential food sources and habitat for pollinator populations!”
Katherine says the certification program changed her approach to teaching. “The program has equipped me with a beneficial set of teaching strategies. I've learned about inquiry-based approaches and have increased the quality of my programs by applying the 5E Teaching Model. I've learned classroom management methods, tips for motivating learning, and the value of embracing teachable moments.”
Katherine said the certification program changed the way she views environmental issues. “While I studied Environmental and Sustainability Studies in college, every day I was learning about environmental destruction caused by human activity. Consistently learning about devastating environmental issues was overwhelming, so when I began the EE Certification Program it was refreshing to change my focus to something constructive: facilitating positive outdoor experiences and promoting environmental literacy. Instead of focusing on environmental degradation, I find it more helpful to emphasis the beauty and wonder of the natural world and feasible solutions to protect the environment. As an environmental educator I can make a positive difference in my community by supporting student's questions, investigations, understanding, knowledge, skills, and decisions.”
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
NCSTA Awards Ceremony Features Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, Recognizes Teachers and Nonformal Environmental Educators
Join the North Carolina Science Teachers Association for a very special awards ceremony Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm Eastern. The virtual event is free and open to the public but registration is required (https://www.ncsta.org).
NCSTA will be presenting awards to teachers, administrators, nonformal educators and other individuals who exhibit leadership in science education and contribute to improvements in the field.
The North Carolina Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs congratulates all the NCSTA winners, but would like to recognize these four educators dedicated to environmental education:
|Annette Steele and Renee Pagoota-Wight|
Matthew Poston of Walkertown Middle School (Forsyth County) will be presented the NCSTA District 5 Outstanding Middle School Science Teacher. Poston enrolled in 2021 and is actively pursuing his North Carolina Environmental Educator Certification.
Tanya Poole, Regional Education Specialist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and a state Project WILD coordinator, will receive the NCSTA Distinguished Service in Science Education in a Non-school Setting for her work as a non-formal educator providing professional development and support to classroom teachers. Poole is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator and serves on the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs Environmental Education Certification Committee. Tanya her NCWRC educator colleagues are essential partners in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program.
Please register for the event and join us in congratulating these and all the award winners!
Friday, October 1, 2021
The great jobs of today and tomorrow are in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). Yet people with disabilities remain underrepresented in these fields. To help turn that tide, the 9th annual STEAM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities will be held virtually Tuesday, October 19 from 1 to 3:30 p.m., hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Event collaborator Ed Summers is a visually impaired software “I’m living proof that a disability can be an asset rather than a liability,” he says. “People with disabilities must be creative and adaptable. Those qualities are exactly what employers need in today’s ever-changing business environment.”
The STEAM Showcase will include a Keynote Speaker, Panel Discussion and Breakout Sessions, where participants will have an opportunity to directly engage with the speakers andnaturalsciences.org/steam (registration is free but required). For additional questions, contact Coordinator of Accessibility and Inclusion Jessie Rassau (firstname.lastname@example.org / 919-707-9976).For more information or to register visit
Keynote Speaker Brandon Winfield is the founder of iAccess Life, a mobile app that allows people with disabilities to rate, review and research accessible venues, such as restaurants, retail shops, grocery stores and more. Through his start-up, Brandon aims to empower users to “know before they go” and to feel confident making plans with their friends, colleagues and loved ones.
- Myles de Bastion is an artistic director, musician and creative altruist who develops technology and art installations that enable sound to be experienced as light and vibration. His search for ways to bridge his passion for music with his Deaf identity led him to found CymaSpace, a non-profit that facilitates arts and cultural events that are inclusive of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing. His work has appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Show and he has built large-scale installations for musical festivals and Grammy-award winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding.
- Kiara Gomez is a PhD Candidate in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a first-generation college student with Colombian roots, and a person who stutters. Kiara’s path as a geoscientist has been multidisciplinary and her love for geology and organic geochemistry has grown from her exposure to its diverse applications across different disciplines. She is passionate about increasing diversity in STEM fields through mentoring and community outreach.
- Bob Moran is a Content Developer for the Global Partner and Technical Enablement team at Red Hat. He has been with the team for eight and a half years working on video editing, image animation and SCORM packaging. Bob is very interested in working with students with disabilities. He shows them that like himself (Bob is visually impaired), with the correct training and use of assisted technology, they will be able to find work in technology or the arts unhindered by their disabilities.
- Laura Feldberg is a technical writer working at SAS. She ispassionate about communicating content in a way that is equitable so that everyone has access to the same information. She has a lifetime’s experience in managing anxiety and depression before they manage her (usually). She wears hearing aids (when she wants to hear you). She lives with a few chronic illnesses, her family, and some very demanding pets.
Please note: ASL interpretation and live captions will be provided for the entire program and for each breakout room. This year’s STEAM Showcase is sponsored by SAS Institute, Inc.; Red Hat; Labcorp; SAAVAS Learning Company; and the .
NC Museum of Natural Sciences Press Release