Friday, January 28, 2011

Environmental Education Certification Project Garners DENR Sustainability Award

Jake Vitek, a ranger at Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro, recently took second place in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Sustainability Awards Contest. This contest recognizes N.C. DENR employees that show "initiative in implementing programs that result in or promote responsible environmental stewardship within the department." These efforts provide direct environmental benefits and often result in cost savings as well.

Vitek's project was the action partnership for his North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. All state park rangers are required to become EE Certified. The program requires 200 hours of environmental education workshops and outdoor experiences, which includes a project which benefits their community. The enrollee must also work with partners from the community to complete the project. The certification program is coordinated by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.

Vitek worked with a local boy scout that needed an Eagle Scout project to develop a program to make Bear Island trash free. It involved building boxes that hold biodegradable bags visitors now use to carry out all trash--all trash cans were removed. Visitors also had to be educated about the new policies. The park has already seen benefits in reduced litter, cost savings and better habitat for wildlife. You can read the full story in the Tideland News.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Harvard Education Letter Features Story on Environmental Education (Update)

The Harvard Education Letter recently included a piece on environmental education that has some North Carolina connections. The article, by Raleigh-based freelance journalist Lucy Hood, discusses and dispels many of the misconceptions about EE by going straight to the source--nationally recognized EE experts and teachers that use EE in the field to enhance student learning across the curriculum. The article includes interviews with science teachers from Southwest Guilford High School in High Point, N.C. and details how they use EE concepts and methods to enhance learning in all of the sciences. N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff members Sarah Yelton and Marty Wiggins contributed to the article.

Update! U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (MD), author of the No Child Left Inside Act, recently posted a response to this article in the Harvard Education Letters 'Voices of Education" blog:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Comment Period on N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan Extended to February 4

The first draft of the North Carolina Environmental Literacy Plan is now available for public review and input. The plan calls for a wide variety of recommendations with the end goal of enhancing environmental literacy among North Carolina’s PreK-12 public school students.

Download a copy of the draft plan by clicking on the link below, then use the online feedback form to provide your comments by February 4, 2011.

North Carolina Environmental Literacy Plan: Smart Minds, Greener Future – Draft 1.0

Access the Online Feedback Form

The N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and numerous partners have been working together to craft an environmental literacy plan for North Carolina. The plan is one way in which North Carolina is responding to proposed federal legislation to enhance environmental literacy among public school students. It will ensure that environmental education is integrated throughout North Carolina's PreK-12 formal education system. To qualify for future federal funding for environmental literacy, the plan will have to be adopted as policy by the North Carolina State Board of Education.

The plan describes how our state will prepare students to understand, analyze, and address the major environmental challenges facing North Carolina and the country. There are four main components, each one outlining specific strategies for ensuring that North Carolina students graduate as environmentally literate citizens. These components include state educational standards and graduation requirements as they relate to environmental literacy, teacher professional development in environmental education, model school grounds and facilities, and strategies for measuring the environmental literacy of students.

Find out more about the NC Environmental Literacy Plan at

Arbor Day in N.C. Did you know March 18 is Arbor Day in North Carolina? Under state law, the first Friday following March 15 is Arbor Day in our state. Several states celebrate their own Arbor Days in addition to National Arbor Day (April 29) to coincide with the ideal time to plant trees in the region.

There are several ways you can celebrate the importance of trees to our environment, health and economy.

-The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources explains more about N.C. Arbor Day and has suggestions on easy ways to participate.

-Get outside! Several N.C. Environmental Education Centers have events and programs today and this weekend. Many EE Centers have notable tree specimens--as a matter of fact, several are arboretums, have a forestry focus or have interpretive areas with examples of native N.C. trees. North Carolina also has a network of seven Educational State Forests across the state--the perfect place to get outside and learn more about trees.

-Last but not least, the N.C. State University Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and several other partners is hosting a N.C. Arbor Day Celebration at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (March 18). Lots of fun and education, as well as free redbud tree seedlings, is guaranteed!