Thursday, September 30, 2010

A New Face at the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs!

The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is excited to welcome a new staff member. Tracey Ritchie is the new adult environmental education consultant and will be managing the office's successful river basin education and consumer education programs. She will also administer the environmental education website and work on other adult EE programs and initiatives.

Tracey was born in New York but lived in Florida since she was three. She received a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation with a minor in zoology from the University of Florida and has a master's degree in environmental education from Florida Atlantic University.

Tracey has held a variety of jobs and internships across the country, including work as a zookeeper in Oregon, a naturalist in coastal South Carolina and as education coordinator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando. She most recently worked at Pine Jog Environmental Education Center in West Palm Beach, Florida as the volunteer and public programs coordinator and was the instructor of a three semester program for Florida Atlantic University in environmental service learning.

"I wanted to come to North Carolina because this state is such a leader in the field of EE." Notes Tracey on her move to the state. "I am just so happy to be here and to be a part of such an amazing group of citizens that are committed to conserving and educating others about all of North Carolina’s natural wonders." Tracey is looking forward to working with other agencies and exploring all of North Carolina’s environmental education centers. We know everyone in the N.C. environmental education community is looking forward to working with her as well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Outdoor Fun in N.C. Featured on OPEN/net TV

The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' Community Development Consultant, Marty Wiggins, was recently featured on the N.C. Agency for Public Telecommunications OPEN/net program. Also featured were Brittany Whitaker, South District Interpretation and Education Specialist at the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation and Liz Baird, Director of School Programs, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

The panel discussed outdoor education and recreation opportunties that can be found at N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources facilities and the many other environmental education centers around the state. Take a Child Outside Week activities were also emphasized and viewers were encouraged to explore their own communities and backyards this fall. The show can be viewed on the OPEN/net website.

Also on TV...Environmental Learning on Heart of Carolina Perspectives

The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' PreK-12 Education Consultant, Sarah Yelton, recently appeared on WTVD's Heart of Carolina Perspectives Program. She joined Sue Esperson, Outdoor Learning Specialist at First Environments Early Learning Center (FEELC) in Research Triangle Park and Richard Rairigh, Senior Program Manager for Be Active Kids with Be Active North Carolina.

The segment addressed the benefits of integrating outdoor environmental education into the classroom, as well as the health benefits of outdoor learning and school gardens. Includes great footage of FEELC.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Education Secretary Duncan Emphasizes Environmental Literacy

Education Secretary Duncan recently addressed the importance of environmental literacy at the U.S. Department of Education's first Sustainability Summit.

Duncan noted: "Historically, the Department of Education hasn't been doing enough in the sustainability movement. Today, I promise you that we will be a committed partner in the national effort to build a more environmentally literate and responsible society."

The full text of Duncan's address is available on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Legislation to Reauthorize National Environmental Education Act Introduced Today (Sept. 23)

The Project Learning Tree Network is reporting that legislation was introduced today (Sept. 23) in Congress to reauthorize the National Environmental Education Act (NEEA). Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced the bill in the Senate and Representatives Jared Polis (CO) and Michael Castle (DE) introduced the companion bill in the House (H.R. 6194).

NEEA is the law that authorizes the EPA Office of Environmental Education, the Environmental Education and Training Program (EETAP, a national training grant program), environmental education grants and gellowships and much more all through the Environmental Protection Agency. The law has not been reauthorized since it was first enacted in 1990 and has not seen an increase in funding for more than a decade. The reauthorization would revise the law to take into account the movement on environmental literacy efforts and training for “green” jobs—a growing field.

Two N.C. Certified Environmental Educators Receive Recognitions

Two North Carolina Certified Environmental Educators have received notable awards for their environmental education efforts both inside and outside of the classroom.

Jodi Riedel, a Wakefield High School (Wake County) agriculture teacher received the N.C. Wildlife Federation's 2010 Environmental Educator of the Year Award. One of Riedel's notable accomplishments is a forestry curriculum she wrote when she took part in N.C. State University’s Kenan Fellows Program, which has been used with more than 700 students. Read more about Jodi's work on the N.C. State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' news site.

For outstanding efforts in integrating environmental education in and outside the classroom, veteran science teacher Randy Senzig of Fuquay-Varina High School was named “2009 Environmental Educator of the Year” by the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District .

The Garner News has an excellent piece on Senzig, which details his incorporation of environmental education into the classroom and beyond, as Senzig's students also take an active role in the community. Senzig photo from the Garner News

Senzig and Riedel are both North Carolina Certified Environmental Educators, which is open to teachers, nonformal eductors or any adult with an interest in environmental education. Learn more about this program at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

N.C. Environmental Education Centers Do Well in Top Field Trips List

Carolina Field Trips Magazine has released its always much-anticipated top 25 North Carolina Field Trips List. These rankings were for the 2009-2010 school year. Once again, facilities listed as North Carolina Environmental Education Centers dominate the list. Below are the EE Centers that made the top 25, listed by ranking. Visit the CFTM website for the complete listing. Find out more about these and other N.C. EE Centers at

1. Dan Nicholas Park (home of Rowan Wildlife Adventures), Salisbury

3. North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro

4. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

5. North Carolina Aquariums, Manteo, Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher

7. Morehead Planetarium, Chapel Hill

8. Natural Science Center of Greensboro

9. Museum of Life and Science, Durham

12. Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia

13. Catawba Science Center, Hickory

15. Discovery Place Inc., Charlotte

18. Neuseway Nature Park, Kinston

19. SciWorks Science Center, Winston-Salem

23. Cape Fear Museum of History & Science, Wilmington

25. North Carolina Museum of Art (N.C. Art Park is listed as an EE Center), Raleigh