Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Update on Maryland Environmental Education Requirement

After the passage of Maryland's requirement to incorporate environmental education in the public school curriculum, a "loophole" was proposed that would have allowed schools to bypass the EE requirement by showing students were proficient in science and social studies. News outlets now report that the loophole has been removed:

Md. Board Of Ed. Removes Environmental Ed. Loophole

From North American Association for Environmental Education reports...

The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously last week to require all Maryland public schools to incorporate environmental education into their curriculum.

Every Maryland public school must now provide a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education program aligned with the Maryland Environmental Literacy Curriculum. Each local school system can design its own program, which will be reviewed by Maryland State Board of Education every five years. The requirement does not require an additional course or specific number of environmental education experiences--each local school system can implement its environmental literacy plan based on the resources unique to their system. This decision is expected to provide the opportunity for all public school students to participate in quality, integrated environmental education programs. The state board rejected language that would clarify the provision as a high school graduation requirement.

For more details:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count!

( The North Carolina count results are now available on the GBBC website! )

The Great Backyard Bird Count has begun! This educational birdwatching event, which runs from Friday, February 18 through Monday, February 21, is growing in popularity and many organizations and environmental education centers in North Carolina are taking part.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited. According to the GBBC website, it is "an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds."

Go to the GBBC website to find out how to participate in your own backyard. Want to join in with others in the birdwatching fun? There are a wealth of GBBC and birding events at N.C. Environmental Education Centers across the state. They are listed on EE Calendar, and you can also search for events near you.

Pine Warbler photo by Mike Dunn, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

Environmental Literacy Specified in Proposed Federal Education Budget

A lot happened this week in environmental education on the federal level! For the first time, environmental literacy has been included in the proposed federal education budget. This was noted in a news update this week from the American Forestry Association:

The President’s budget request includes $246.1 million through the Department of Education for a new program, Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education, which would support competitive grants to local school districts, alone or in partnership with states, to support education programs focused on “well-rounded” subjects, including environmental education. The President included this in his 2011 budget request. This funding could help to support the No Child Left Inside Act, if the bill is included as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

To view the text from the budget, follow this link and look under "Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education, A Well-Rounded Education."

This is a major development for the environmental education field and shows that environmental education is increasingly recognized as an effective methodology to enhance learning in all subjects and provides direct, measurable academic and health benefits to students.

Senator Jack Reed and Congressman John Sarbanes were each quoted in a press release from the No Child Left Inside Coalition about the provision. Reed and Sarbanes respectively introduced the No Child Left Inside Act in the Senate and House and have continually supported environmental literacy on the federal level.

"This budget takes an important step toward boosting environmental education in the classroom and giving more kids the opportunity to get out and learn about the natural world around them," said Senator Jack Reed (RI). "Environmental education can help raise student achievement in other core subjects like math and science. This is a smart investment in our children's future and the future of our planet."

"The President's budget proposal is a terrific first step for environmental education," said Congressman John Sarbanes, author of the No Child Left Inside House legislation. "I look forward to working with the Administration to more fully incorporate environmental education into school curriculums across the country."

More details on the budget and No Child Left Inside legislation can be found in the NCLI press release.

Here are more updates on environmental education at the federal level. Thanks goes to the American Forest Foundation for keeping an eye on Washington and allowing the use of their news release.

This week, Congress began debating a Continuing Resolution, a bill to fund the federal government through the rest of 2011. On Monday, the President released his Budget Proposal to Congress for 2012.

EPA’s Office of Environmental Education (funded by the National Environmental Education Act) In the Continuing Resolution for 2011 funding, the Office of Environmental Education escapes cuts and is funded at 2010 levels of $9.038 million. We will continue to watch for amendments that would propose cuts to this program. The President’s Budget for 2012 funding proposes an increase of $847,000 to $9.885 million.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Learn and Serve America.

The Continuing Resolution (2011) proposes to completely cut all funding for CNCS programs, including Learn and Serve America, which provides direct and indirect support to K-12 schools, community groups and higher education institutions to facilitate service-learning projects.

The President’s Budget (2012) proposes level-funding (same as 2010) at 39.5 million.

Other Details from the President’s Budget

The President proposes a $46.8 million investment through the Department of the Interior in initiatives to foster the next generation of conservation leaders and connect youth to America’s Great Outdoors.

Next Steps: The House will continue to debate the Continuing Resolution for 2011 funding throughout this week, possibly voting on final passage by the end of the week. We are watching for amendments that propose further spending cuts. Later this month, the Senate will debate and vote on the 2011 Continuing Resolution. Then, the House and Senate will resolve any differences and send the final bill to the President for his signature. If the 2011 Continuing Resolution is not passed by March 4, 2011, the federal government shuts down.

Throughout March and April, the Congressional committees will hold hearings to review the budget for 2012. We can expect the committee votes and full House and Senate votes to take place later in the spring and summer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Register NOW! N.C. Outdoor Classroom Symposium | April 7-9

Registration is now open for the 2011 North Carolina Outdoor Classroom Symposium!!

2011 NC Outdoor Classroom Symposium
Green and Growing!
April 7-9, 2011
NC Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill

This symposium is targeted to PreK-12 teachers, administrators, parent volunteers and others working toward creating outdoor classrooms at schools. Sessions will be appropriate for educators who already have an outdoor classroom and for those who are just beginning to develop their schoolyard areas for outdoor environmental learning. Teachers can earn CEU credits and participants can earn credit towards their N.C. Environmental Education Certification.


  • Jane Taylor, founding curator of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden at Michigan State University
  • Wendy Banning, educational consultant and co-author of Lens on Outdoor Learning.

Click here for more information, including the agenda, speaker bios and the link to online registration.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beth Cranford New N.C. Environmental Education Certification Manager

The North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program has a new manager at the helm. Beth Cranford recently became the new EE Certifcation Program Consultant for the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. Beth replaces Libby Wilcox, who recently retired. Beth is the third manager of this popular program, which started in 1996 and has certified nearly 1,000 environmental educators. North Carolina was the first state to develop a professional development program of this nature, and several states and the Republic of South Korea have modeled the N.C. program.

Beth grew up in North Carolina and started her path to environmental education at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences as a volunteer. She has her MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Environmental Education from Florida Atlantic University where she also worked at Pine Jog Environmental Education Center.

Beth has worked at a variety of outdoor and environmental education facilities in California, New York state, Texas and Oklahoma. She says that her travels around the country have helped her appreciate North Carolina’s wonderful and unique natural areas. Beth worked most recently was an educator and camp coordinator at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill.

"I'm excited to be working in the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs because I get to help people throughout the state by working with environmental educators. I look forward to meeting you all in the near future!"

Environmental Education Jobs and Internships!

Looking for an environmental education-related job, or know someone who is? The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' Jobs and Internships page is the place for you! This page offers a variety of jobs and internship opportunities in the environmental education and outdoor education and recreation field. Opportunities are listed chronologically by date of application closing, so be sure to scan the whole list. This is the time of year when environmental education centers, parks and related organizations are hiring seasonal positions, and the list is full of them. These are great educational opportunities and resume builders for anyone that wants to enter the field.

The EE Jobs and Interships page is located on the News and Events tab on

EE program providers, please take advantage of this job and internship posting resource. Contact us to see how to post jobs on the listing and on the NC-EE listserv. or 919-733-0711.

Peggy Sloan Named Director at N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The new director at the Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a familar face to many in the North Carolina environmental education community! Peggy Sloan, who has served as the Aquarium’s education curator since 2001, was named director on February 1. Many of you already know Peggy as a dedicated environmental educator. She has more than 20 years experience in management, education and operations in aquarium and zoo settings and serves on numerous boards and committees including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ National Conservation Education Committee. Peggy also serves on the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan working group and is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator. She is also a member of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina, our state's nonprofit professional development organization.

Read more about Peggy and her plans for the Aquarium.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wilkes County Teacher named N.C. Outstanding Conservation Education Middle School Teacher

Russell Sparks, an East Wilkes Middle School science teacher has been named North Carolina’s Outstanding Conservation Education Middle School Teacher. The award is given annually by the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Read the full article about Sparks' work and how environmental education benefits his students in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

Image from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot