Thursday, April 14, 2011

Raleigh student receives President’s Environmental Youth Award

A Raleigh high school student was awarded the President's Environmental Youth Award on Saturday, April 16, as part of the Planet Earth Celebration in Raleigh.

Kyle Kittelberger, a student at Ravenscroft School, was honored for his project at Sandling Beach at Falls Lake State Recreation Area. The project included the construction of an 80-foot wetland boardwalk and wildlife observation deck. The complete N.C. DENR Press Release follows below the photos of Kyle's project.

This is a HUGE honor. Congratulations Kyle!


Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor
Dee Freeman, Secretary

N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Release: Immediate
Contact: Jamie Kritzer
Date: April 15, 2011 Phone: (919) 715-7357

Raleigh student to receive President’s Environmental Youth Award on Saturday

RALEIGH – A Raleigh high school student on Saturday will become one of only 10 people in the nation to receive this year’s President's Environmental Youth Awards.

State and federal environmental officials will honor Kyle Kittelberger, a junior at Ravenscroft School, during Saturday’s Planet Earth Celebration near the State Capitol.

Kittelberger will be recognized for his construction of an 80-foot wetland boardwalk and wildlife observation deck at Sandling Beach at Falls Lake State Recreation Area in Wake County. Kittelberger took more than two years to complete the project, which started as an effort to earn his Eagle Scout Award and grew from there.

“Kyle is a great example of how important it is to engage youth in the environment and in environmental education efforts in our state,” said David Knight, assistant secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “His project improves public access to a wonderful natural area while still protecting the valuable ecosystem.”

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources will present Kittelberger with the award at noon Saturday during the Earth Day celebration on Jones Street outside the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

The President’s Environmental Youth Award program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the president and the EPA have recognized young Americans for protecting our nation’s air, water, land and ecology. The award is one of the most important ways EPA and the president demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people.

Kittelberger’s award will be presented by officials from the EPA’s Atlanta-based Region 4, which covers North Carolina and other states in the Southeast. The EPA honors one winner per region for all 10 regions in the United States.

Kittelberger’s construction of the wetland boardwalk helped him earn his Eagle Scout in April of 2008. Then, he constructed the observation deck, and built staircases to prevent erosion and improve public access to the boardwalk. He also built eight recycling centers for the park's seven picnic shelters and one boat access site. During construction, he noticed a lot of Autumn Olive, an invasive species that competes with native vegetation. Kittelberger consulted park rangers and then led a volunteer effort to get rid of the Autumn Olive. By removing the invasive shrubs, Kittelberger and the volunteers enabled native plants to flourish and improved the park’s wildlife habitat.

Kittelberger has been involved in other environmental endeavors. He recently won first place in photography for the American Birding Association Young Birder's Award competition. He also installed a video camera at Jordan Lake, where he could monitor an active bald eagle nest.

Saturday’s Planet Earth Celebration is a fitting tribute because it is hosted by staff members with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, who knew Kittelberger from his work as a volunteer at the museum’s Prairie Ridge EcoStation in northwest Raleigh. If it rains Saturday, the award will be presented in the Gold Classroom on the 3rd floor of the museum at 11 West Jones St.

The Planet Earth Celebration, one of many Earth Day events and North Carolina’s largest sustainability festival, is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Raleigh. The event is free. Learn more at

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Statewide Earth Day Events!

Earth Day, environmental education and sustainability-related events have really taken off in North Carolina! Cities, nonprofits and other agencies across the state are sponsoring these events in April. Here is a just a sampling of those events, and you can also go to the state-wide environmental education calendar to find other activities for adults, kids, families, as well as professional development:

Know of any others? Please send to and we will list them!

Some events have pasted, but are listed in blue for reference. Note that due to the impact of the terrible storms that struck the state on April 16th, some of the events may be cancelled or modified. Please check before attending.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's National Environmental Education Week!

April 12, 2010
Contact: Dan Seligson, communications director, National Environmental Education Foundation,
Students, Educators Celebrate National Environmental Education Week

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Millions of students and thousands of teachers across the country will take part this week in National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the largest environmental education event in the United States held annually during the week leading up to Earth Day.

EE Week, a project of the National Environmental Education Foundation, runs from April 11-17, features field trips, class exercises, outdoor classrooms, school garden planting and other activities at schools, nature centers and museums. This year’s focus on the connection between water and energy will help K-12 students better understand how usage of each affects the other and empower students to come up with strategies for conservation.

In the United States, generating power consumes 3 percent of our nation's water annually and 13 percent of the energy produced in this country each year is used to treat, transport and heat our water. Conserving water saves energy, and vice versa. The water-energy connection is complex, but it provides an excellent opportunity to get students thinking about the interrelatedness of ecological and environmental concerns.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, in a message to educators said EE Week will “engage young people from every grade level and help lead us to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day later this month.” “Whether it’s taking students to explore nature, planting native species gardens to prevent runoff, or developing in-school recycling projects, these creative activities can make a positive – and lasting – difference,” Jackson said.

Diane Wood, president of the National Environmental Education Foundation, said this year’s theme provides timely lessons to students. “Water conservation and learning about the water-energy connection engages students to take an active role in problem solving,” Wood said. “Their learning, whether in classrooms, on field trips or through activities on school grounds spark ideas for solutions for conserving resources, saving water, saving energy and ultimately having a real impact in their schools and their communities.”

A seven-day lead in to Earth Day, EE Week features class outings and activities focused on the understanding and protection of the natural world. Last year, more than 2,500 partners – including schools, zoos, aquaria, nature centers and museums – took part engaging an estimated 4.5 million students around the country.

This year’s focus, “Be Water and Energy Wise” includes focused lesson plans, quizzes, water measurement kits and nature journaling exercises. The materials cut across all academic areas, from math to language arts and art to science.

In North Carolina, there are hundreds of environmental education events and programs this week, as well as numerous Earth Day events across the state. For more information on EE Week in North Carolina, contact the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs at 919-733-0711. View EE Week and Earth Day events on the office's statewide EE Calendar,

Monday, April 11, 2011

2nd N.C. Outdoor Classroom Symposium a Big Success!

The 2nd N.C. Outdoor Classroom Symposium has drawn to a close and nearly 200 teachers and other educators have returned home energized and ready to utilize what they have learned, benefiting students around North Carolina.

Participants heard inspiring addresses by Jane L. Taylor, founding curator of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden and by Wendy Banning, co-developer and program director of Irvin Learning Farm, a hands-on outdoor learning program at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s 269-acre Irvin Farm Preserve in Chapel Hill. Attendees also took advantage of numerous concurrent sessions and Saturday tours of schools with outdoor learning environments located across the greater Triangle region.

Photos and updates from the event can be viewed on the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affair's Facebook page, (you do not need a Facebook account to view the photos). You can also read tweets from the conference on Twitter and comments are still welcome on the conversation with hastag #ncocsym.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Symposium to Showcase Benefits of Outdoor Classrooms

The second North Carolina Outdoor Classroom Symposium begins Friday at the N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill! 

The symposium will provide more than 120 teachers, school administrators, parent volunteers and non-formal educators with techniques for creating, maintaining and using outdoor classrooms. The first symposium was held in 2009, also at the N.C. Botanical Garden

Presenters will discuss integrating outdoor learning into school curricula. They will offer sessions on designing school gardens, creating natural areas and using the outdoors to connect students to scientific research, food production, health and nutrition. 

“Schools across North Carolina are using their school grounds to engage students in learning math, science, language arts and art while meeting curriculum goals and creating an enthusiasm for the outdoors,” said Lisa Tolley, program manager for the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. “Teachers and parents recognize first-hand the positive academic, health and behavioral benefits of outdoor learning.”

Friday morning’s featured speaker is Jane L. Taylor, founding curator of the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, which is considered the national model for the design of gardens for children at public garden sites. Closing remarks on Friday will be delivered by Wendy Banning, co-developer and program director of Irvin Learning Farm, a hands-on outdoor learning program at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s 269-acre Irvin Farm Preserve in Chapel Hill. Banning recently co-authored a book with Ginny Sullivan, “Lens on Outdoor Learning,” which documents children’s learning in the outdoors.

The symposium is sponsored by the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, the N.C. Botanical Garden, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, N.C. Cooperative Extension, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the Environmental Education Fund and others. 

“We are privileged to provide this unique professional development experience for teachers that will provide them with new tools and techniques to meet their classroom goals,” said Bill Crowell, director for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program. “It will not only help their students with basic academics, but will also hone their 21st Century job skills, including teamwork, critical thinking and communication.”

Pre-symposium environmental education workshops will be held Thursday. A series of mobile workshops on Saturday will let participants visit school and community gardens in the Triangle. Teachers can earn continuing education credits and all participants can earn credit towards their N.C. Environmental Education Certification.

For more information, visit

You can also follow the symposium’s activities on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ncocsym.

NAAEE Interim Director has a North Carolina Connection

The North American Association for Environmental Education has a new interim executive director. Many in the North Carolina environmental education community will find the name familiar! Linda Rhoads, who recently took the position after the departure of Brian Day, once lived in North Carolina and worked for the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education (N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources). Linda will serve as interim while NAAEE searches for a new executive director. This comes at an exciting time, as Linda will be serving during the planning for the NAAEE Conference, which will held in Raleigh October 12 - 15, 2011. Linda has already been back in North Carolina, working with the Environmental Educators of North Carolina and the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.

Welcome back "home" Linda!

Below is a message from NAAEE President, Diane Cantrell about the change in leadership. After five and a half years as executive director of NAAEE, Brian A. Day has decided to leave the association to take his career in a new direction. Linda Rhoads will serve as interim executive director while the NAAEE Board conducts its search for a new leader. During his tenure, Brian led the association through its most recent strategic planning and was a catalyst for NAAEE’s leadership in advocacy for the EE profession. Under Brian’s tenure, NAAEE has cemented its relationship with the National Council for the Accreditation for Teacher Education to ensure that future teachers know how to incorporate environmental education across the curriculum. The Board is very appreciative of his service to the organization, both as executive director and previously as a Board member. He is assisting Linda Rhoads with the transition to ensure that all of NAAEE’s projects proceed smoothly.

A former Executive Director for the EE Association of Oregon for more than seven years, Linda has been an active member and volunteer for NAAEE for at least a decade. Her leadership skills have been evident in her role as Advocacy Committee chair for two years, during which the number of participants in the EE Advocacy network grew by leaps and bounds. She also co-founded the Sustainability Education Commission. As an Affiliate director, she was active on the Affiliate Network Steering Committee. Linda also is a Guidelines facilitator and trainer.

Friday, April 1, 2011

N.C. Environmental Education Advisory Council Member Receives "Order of the Long Leaf Pine"

Michele Aydlett, a member of the N.C. Environmental Education Advisory Council (EEAC), was recently inducted into the state’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The EEAC advises and makes recommendations to the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs on its educational efforts and strategic direction and informs the Office on trends in education, government, business and the non-profit sector. The Council is comprised of representatives from the academic, business, cultural arts and environmental communities.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is one of the highest honors awarded to a North Carolina citizen, in recognition of service to the state or special achievement. Aydlett is an active education volunteer, a retired educator, active conservation volunteer and elections official. The award was specifically given for her service to Dismal Swamp State Park. Aydlett founded the Friends of Dismal Swamp State Park and actively promotes the park across the region and state. Congratulations Michele!

Photo courtesy of the Daily Advance, Elizabeth City

Governing Magazine: States Pushing Green Education in the Classroom

Governing Magazine, a journal aimed at state and local government officials, policy-makers and program directors, recently published an article about state-level efforts to develop environmental literacy plans:

"Can learning about the environment improve students' lives? State education leaders hope so. In fact, 47 states are in varying stages of developing "environmental literacy plans" that they say could improve student engagement and achievement, and even help lower childhood obesity rates. The plans provide guidelines for teaching students about the environment and the effects humans have on it." Read the full article.

In North Carolina, the N.C. Department of Natural Resource's Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, Environmental Educators of N.C., N.C. Association of Environmental Education Centers and many other organizations are in the process of developing an environmental literacy plan for our state. The first draft of the plan was released in December 2010 and we are currently working on revisions based on those comments. We anticipate that a second draft will be available for review later this spring or early summer. Visit the N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan website to view the first draft of the plan and sign up to receive future updates by email.