Thursday, December 20, 2012

National Council for Science and the Environment Presents to Federal Task Force on Environmental Education

The following text is a press release from the National Council for Science and the Environment. Press release with contact information

WASHINGTON, D.C., (12/17/12) -David Blockstein, Director of Education for the National Council for Science and the Environment was the keynote speaker at the inaugural meeting of the reconvened Federal Task Force on Environmental Education on December 10.

The task force represents a coordinated, Administration-wide approach to foster and strengthen environmental education (EE) activities in the federal government. It will help agencies to leverage EE resources, identify opportunities for collaboration and better coordinate with stakeholders.

The Task Force is chaired by the Deputy Administrator of the EPA and the Deputy Secretaries of Education and Interior and includes the Deputy leaders of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Labor, Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Small Business Administration, National Science Foundation, NASA, Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Dr. Blockstein urged the Task Force to take a broad view of environmental education that advances sustainable development and links with the issues of economy, security, energy, health, and climate change. Noting that there was a role for every agency, Blockstein declared that with appropriate education:

Every job can be a green job
Everyone can be a green consumer
Every home can be a green home

Dr. Blockstein reported on the rapid growth of Interdisciplinary Environmental and Sustainability Education at the college and university level. Climate and Energy Education is also starting to rise (as are global temperatures and sea level). However, quoting the late Ray Anderson, the average college student still graduates oblivious to the realities of a finite Earth.(speech at 2003 NCSE National Conference: Education for a Sustainable and Secure Future).

At the high school level, Environmental Sciences is fastest growing advanced placement (AP) course school, a lack of qualified teachers is a limiting factor.

Blockstein encouraged the agencies to look at environmental education in the context of:

technology providing more opportunities for self-directed learning;
increased scholarship on how people learn and best practices in teaching;
the Essential Principles of Literacy for Oceans, Earth, Climate, and Energy
the Next Generation Science Standards to be finalized in 2013.

Dr. Blockstein encouraged the federal government to take on big goals for the next decade:

Every Federal Worker understands the most important environmental issues in context of their own work;
Every Citizen and Resident understands the most important environmental issues in context of their own work and consumer behavior;
Every School is a Green School (meets standards of Green Ribbon School).

He noted that all of these actions will contribute to building a Green Economy and remarked that diversity remains a huge challenge in environmental education and in STEM education.

Dr. Blockstein presented Task Force members with the NCSE report - Environmental Research and Education Needs: An Agenda for a New Administration (2008). The report is a compilation of recommendations from thousands of educators, scientists, policymakers and other citizens from the first decade of NCSE National Conferences on Science, Policy and the Environment. He stated that the second term of the Obama Administration is an opportunity to move forward on the specific recommendations contained in this report.

Recognizing that the last time the federal government tried a coordinated effort on EE was 1993, Dr. Blockstein noted that an entire generation has been born and graduated from high school since this time. He urged that much more be done in the next generation.

Environmental Educators of North Carolina Announces Award Winners

Environmental Educators of North Carolina is the nonprofit professional organization for environmental educators in our state. Each year, EENC publicly recognizes environmental educators, members, organizations, and partners for their valuable contributions to environmental literacy, the field of environmental education, EENC as an organization and the environmental well-being of North Carolina. The following individuals and organizations were recognized at the EENC Annual Conference held on October 12, 2012.  Each winner was chosen from nominations from across the state for unique accomplishments in environmental education and service to EENC.

Congratulations! See the complete press release with detailed descriptions and photos of each winner on the EENC website.

 Elizabeth Burke -- Melva Fager Okun Lifetime Achievement Award
 Chip Freund -- Outstanding Newcomer
 Terri Kirby -- Outstanding Practitioner
 Sarah Yelton -- Outstanding Service
 Eric McDuffie -- Environmental Educator of the Year
 Sarah Haggerty -- Environmental Educator of the Year

  Potash Corporation of Aurora -- Outstanding Partner
  Pisgah Forest North Carolina -- Exceptional Environmental Education Program

                                                               Winners Burke, Freund, Kirby and Yelton

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

EE Week 2013 Theme: Taking Technology Outdoors

Classroom Earth has announced that the theme of National Environmental Education Week 2013 (April 14-20) will be Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors and will explore how technology can enhance environmental learning both inside and outside the classroom.

As part of Taking Technology Outdoors, EE Week will highlight the growing opportunity to engage today's students in learning about the environment with new technologies that enable scientific research and develop 21st century skills, including creativity, innovation, communication and collaboration.

We know educators at North Carolina environmental education centers and classroom teachers are integrating technology with environmental education in innovative ways. We hope to hear your stories and share your examples.

Educators who register for EE Week will be able to take advantage of:

• Free educator webinars and toolkits offering tips, resources and ideas for using the latest technology to excite students about learning in their community
• Case studies, success stories and examples of technology in action and the teachers who are using it to enhance environmental learning and achievement in core subject areas
• Discounts, giveaways and special offers from EE Week partners, including: a 10 percent discount from Nature-Watch on any online order, a $10 coupon on purchases of $50 or more from the Acorn Naturalists online store, and a 25 percent discount on the Sustainability Specialist Certificate in K-12 Sustainability Education Strategies from the Green Education Foundation.

Schools and other educational agencies and organizations can register to participate in EE Week at their website to take advantage of these and other resources on their website.

Classroom Earth is a program of the National Environmental Education Foundation made possible by the Weather Channel. 

The EE research is in...outdoor learning is good for you

A team of researchers from the University of Kansas and the University of Utah recently released a study that revealed a four-day immersive nature hiking experience increased performance on a creativity and problem-solving cognitive task by 50%. In Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings the authors note their results "demonstrate that
there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting."

This is one of many peer-reviewed research articles archived in our newsfeed under the "EE Research" tag. Take a look and you'll find a number of articles and direct links to research journal articles that show the academic and and benefits of environmental education for children and adults. You can also find more information on our "EE Research and Data" page, including links to organizations and academic institutions that do EE-related research, resources on age-appropriate EE and links to a selected collection of especially noteworthy research.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

EPA Appoints 11 New Members to the National Environmental Education Advisory Council

(US EPA Press Release)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has appointed 11 environmental education professionals to serve on the agency’s National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC). The National Environmental Education Advisory Council is comprised of representatives from organizations outside the federal government who provide EPA with advice and recommendations on environmental education. The council provides EPA with a better understanding of the needs of schools, universities, state departments of education and natural resources. The first meeting of the NEEAC is scheduled for December 13-14, 2012.

“The National Environmental Education Advisory Council provides EPA with insight from men and women with first-hand environmental education experience. This is essential to our work to support environmental education efforts across the country and help Americans understand how protecting the environment is really about protecting our health and the health of our communities,” said Administrator Jackson. “I congratulate our new NEEAC members on their appointments and look forward to continuing to work with the council.”

The NEEAC was established in 1990 under the National Environmental Education Act to provide input from stakeholders to EPA. Environmental education increases public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues or problems. In doing so, it provides the public with the necessary skills to make informed decisions and take responsible action.

The newly appointed members will represent a variety of stakeholders. Caroline Lewis and Dr. Kelly Keena will be representing primary and secondary education. Keena is a science teacher in Colorado and is a lauded environmental educator. Lewis has a wide breadth of experience in education both as a teacher and as the education strategist and director at the CLEO Institute.

Dr. Mark Kraus and Dr. Edna Negron-Martinez will represent colleges and universities. Kraus has served in leadership positions for 20 years and is currently chair of the Department of Natural Science Health and Wellness at Miami Dade Wolfson Campus. Negron-Martinez is a full professor at the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico and has also held positions in public and environmental health.

Kay Antunez de Mayolo and Vidette (Kiki) Corry will draw on their experience by representing state departments of education and natural resources. Antunez de Mayolo has retired from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention where she remains as a volunteer statewide environmental education coordinator. She has also taught at California Polytechnic State University. Corry has served the environmental education community in many ways and is currently the Project Wild coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, chair of the Texas Environmental Education Advisory Committee, and a member of the board of directors of the Science Teachers Association of Texas.

Cara Gizzi and Scott Frazier will be representing business and industry. Gizzi is the director for Public Safety Education and Outreach at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc, where she expands the scope of the Safety Smart Youth Education program. Frazier will be drawing on his experience as CEO of Project Indigenous, as well as his time as Yellowstone Ecological Research Center liaison and Native Waters executive director and project coordinator.

Angie Chen and Richard Gonzales will represent nonprofits. Chen has experience with several nonprofits and is now a program officer at the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and Stephen Bechtel Fund. Gonzales is a lauded environmental educator and now serves as the project coordinator for the Science and Spanish Club Network, which he initiated in 2000.

Kenneth Gembel will represent the interests of senior Americans and share his 44 years of experience as environmental manager for General Motors as well as his talent in the classroom.

More information on the NEEAC and the list of new members:

Release Date: 12/03/2012
Contact Information: Dale Kemery (News media only) 202-564-7839 202-564-4355; en espaƱol: Lina Younes, 202-564-9924, 202-564-4355

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grants, Grants and more Grants...

One of our favorite services we provide is the Environmental Education Grants page. By working with EE partners in Georgia, Hawaii and Wisconsin, we are able to locate and post grants that are relevant to environmental education in North Carolina. An extra plus is that the grants on this page are always current--they automatically drop off the listing when the deadline expires. Here's a recent unsolicited comment about the grants page:

I just discovered the EE site's grants page, and I am blown away--it's an amazing list, all relevant for North Carolina nonprofits.... Having sifted through other lists of grants to discover they weren't applicable for us or no longer in  operation, your list is a mother lode of information. Thank you so much!

So check it out! There are a wealth of grants from small to large to support classroom projects, environmental education center programs, non-profit and community organizations and more. While you are there, don't forget to check out the Environmental Education Contests page as well! These provide great projects for students and can provide cash prizes in recognition of environmental education programs and initiatives.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

EE Jobs and Internships: NC's "Go To" Site for Jobs in the Environmental Education Field

Did you know that part of the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs Environmental Education Certification Program is to serve as a clearinghouse for environmental education and related jobs? Both job-seekers and potential employers use the NC-EE listserv and the EE Jobs and Internships page to post and find positions in the field. The office recently received three messages from people employed in positions they found on the website:

If I had not seen the listing for my current position on the EE listserv email, I would have never even known about the job. Now I am serving in the job of my dreams, the one I hope to retire in, and I owe so much to the Office of Environmental Education for this privilege. The Office has immeasurable value in my eyes but the jobs listing and listservs are definitely two of their biggest strengths. Thank you so very much for all you do!

Just a quick note to let you know that I'm now employed in Wake County as an environmental education program aide, a position I found listed on the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs website. Thank you and everyone else involved for curating such a wonderful resource.

…thanks so much for maintaining your site. I found my current position with a state park on this posting board as well as a previous position I held at non-profit environmental education center. I would be less employed without your work!

Environmental education program providers, don’t hesitate to share your own job postings with us to share. Also, if you found your job or have hired great employees through our EE jobs listings or the NC-EE listserv, please let us know!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Durham Public Schools Developing "Hub" Farm for Environmental Education

Durham Public Schools is excited to announce the "vine-cutting" ceremony to kick of their new facility dedicated to hands-on environmental education. The current plans are to use land around Eno Valley Elementary School as a community farm and outdoor learning environment for the public school system and the greater Durham community. Learn more about this project on their Facebook page and this story from the Durham Herald Sun. Better yet, join them on October 20th!
There are numerous peer-reviewed studies that show that outdoor experiential learning has direct academic benefits. Read some of them on our EE Research page and on our eeResearch and eeSchools news feeds.  

Montreat College Preparing for 4th Cohort of Master of Science in Environmental Education Students

Montreat College is again offering its Master of Science in Environmental Education (MSEE) degree. This will be the fourth cohort of students in this unique graduate program. The Montreat MSEE is not online, but is considered is low-residency and aimed at working environmental education professionals. Students come to campus only on weekends once a month during spring and fall semesters. Students then come to campus for a two-week summer intensive during the first summer, and then travel for two-weeks during our second summer—the past two cohorts have elected to go to Hawaii and Alaska. More information is available at and in the video below--you may recognize some familiar faces!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

North Carolinians Present Research at North American Association for Environmental Education Conference

The 41st Annual North American Association for Environmental Education Conference recently ended in Oakland, CA (October 9-13, 2012). More than 1,000 environmental education professionals from around the world gathered to build capacity, increase their knowledge base and promote the environmental education profession.

The program is still available at, and you can also find reports and photos from the conference on social media. NAAEE has a Facebook page, and on Twitter, follow or (or just view the links if you are not a Twitter user) @NAAEEstaff and the #NAAEE2012 hashtag.

Faculty and students from two North Carolina universities, N.C. State and UNC Greensboro, presented at the NAAEE Research Symposium which is held the two days prior to the conference:

Identifying and Evaluating Drivers of Environmental Literacy in North Carolina
Do outdoor and environmental education work? We will discuss results from a study in support of North Carolina's ELP. Topics include how teacher environmental attitudes, use of environmental education, and time spent outside predict environmental literacy levels in North Carolina.
Presenters: Kathryn Stevenson and Renee Strnad, N.C. State University

"I'm not a snake person": Student's identity boundary work
In an ethnographic study of diverse high school students’ identity boundary work in a summer herpetology research experience, students, over time, engaged with nature and animals in ways that surprised themselves. We examined what promoted these kinds of identity boundary shifts (i.e. moving from I am not a "snake person" to I am a "snake person").
Presenter: Lacey D. Huffling, UNCG
Collaborators:  Heidi B. Carlone, Theresa Hegedus, Terry Tomasek, Catherine E. Matthews, Melony Allen, Mary Ash, Aerin Benavides

Identity-related motivations of vistors at EE events: Can snakes see science?
In this study, we researched what motivated visitors to attend community events focused on environmental education, specifically herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians). We examined the identity-related motivations of visitors with the goal of learning what sparks interest, emotion, and engagement in science.
Presenter: Lacey D. Huffling, UNCG
Collaborators:  Theresa Hegedus, Heidi B. Carlone, Terry Tomasek, Catherine E. Matthews, Melony Allen, Aerin Benavides

Using animals that slither, slide, run, and hide for education
Participants learned how to use snakes, salamander, turtles, and frogs for conservation education. They also experienced and discovered activities that engage students in authentic science while also teaching conservation.
Presenter(s): Lacey D. Huffling, Aerin Benavides, UNCG
Collaborators: Catherine E. Matthews, Heidi B. Carlone, Terry Tomasek, Melony Allen, Theresa Hegedus, Mary Ash, Lynn Sametz, Ann Somers, Andy Ash

Thursday, October 4, 2012

City of Greensboro to Offer Mobile Environmental Education Classroom

The city of Greensboro Library and Parks and Recreation departments are repurposing the city's current Reading Railroad service to become an environmental education mobile classroom that will help the city’s efforts to package and extend its educational resources to students throughout the community.

"We are excited about this new partnership opportunity with the Greensboro Public Library," said Chris Wilson, interim director for the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department. "Our staff will collaborate with their environmental education librarian to ensure that programs are readily available in underserved neighborhoods throughout our community. In addition, this gives us a great resource to take on the road to provide edutainment opportunities for local schools."
The exterior of the bus will be rewrapped and the interior redesigned to accommodate the mobile classroom. It will feature live animals and environmental displays, and a collection of resources, books and DVDs will be available to be checked out. The city’s environmental education librarian and the Parks and Recreation’s environmental education staff will collaborate on the programs offered. This initiative will ensure that environmental education programs are readily available to underserved residents throughout the community.

The Reading Railroad is currently parked at Lake Brandt, serving the residents of Lake Jeanette and northeast Greensboro on Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm through October 25.

Greensboro is also home to the Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library. This facility serves as a regular library, but also has an environmental education focus and offers a number of general public and professional development environmental education programs. It is also listed as a North Carolina Environmental Education Center by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. The library is located in the 98-acre Price Park which includes a bird and butterfly meadow, reading garden, walking trails, ponds, and wetlands. In addition to popular collections, the library also has an extensive collection of nature, gardening, and environmental resources for children and adults. Price Park backpacks are available for adults and children to explore nature along the trails and in their own backyard. (Photo from KCE Library)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rediscover nature during 6th annual Take A Child Outside Week, Sept. 24-30

RALEIGH — (N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences Press Release) Take A Child Outside Week, a national initiative spearheaded by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, kicks off Monday, September 24 and runs through Sunday, September 30. Designed to help break down obstacles that keep children from exploring the natural world, the program encourages children and adults to spend time together outdoors. It was inspired by Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods,” which identifies the benefits of outdoor experiences for children and addresses some of the problems of what he terms “Nature Deficit Disorder,” such as increased feelings of stress, trouble paying attention and feelings of being disconnected from the world.

“I was pleased to be a part of the kick-off for the first Take A Child Outside week six years ago,” Louv says. “North Carolina has been one of the epicenters of the movement to connect children and nature, and is helping increase the awareness that we all, children and adults, need nature in our increasingly technological lives.” Louv’s new book, The Nature Principle, identifies seven basic concepts that help identify and tap into the restorative power of nature.

On the Take A Child Outside web site (, adults are encouraged to make a pledge to take a child outside during the week and chart their location on a digital map. The website also offers a link to interesting outdoor activities, a list of participating organizations in your area, and a portal for partner organizations to post information and add links to their website. “Free time in nature has been shown to improve every area of a child’s life, from having healthier, stronger bodies, to being more successful in school, to having better relationships in their community,” says Liz Baird, director of education for the Museum and the program’s founder. “Time outside every day should be part of your regular routine.”

Currently, all 50 US states and four foreign countries actively participate in Take A Child Outside Week. More than 400 organizations participate nationwide, including all 35 North Carolina State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Prairie Ridge Activity
Visitors can also venture outside with Museum educators to explore a variety of habitats — including a Piedmont prairie, woodlands, a lowland forest and a pond — on Friday, September 28 at the Museum’s Prairie Ridge Ecostation in west Raleigh. Come any time between 3 to 6pm and visit sites throughout the Ecostation and learn about nature activities that you can enjoy year-round. Learn about bug sounds, sample aquatic invertebrates, investigate ways to attract wildlife to your yard, and more. There will also be a nature scavenger hunt. Each family will receive some take-home items to start building their own explorer’s kit. All ages are welcome; children 15 or younger must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes. No registration required. For information e-mail, call 919.707.8878 or visit .

Examples of Take A Child Outside activities
• Make a Date with the Moon - A monthly journey outside to look at the full moon.
• Spritzing spider webs – Discover the architecture behind spider webs by using spritz bottles.
• Leaf number search – Find and identify leaves with one to ten points and beyond.
• Shadow search – Use chalk to trace a shadow on the sidewalk, come back later to see how the shadow has moved and learn why.
• Animal tracks – Locate animal tracks in the dirt and cast them in plaster.
• Outdoor sculpture – Follow sculptor Andy Goldsworthy’s lead and create sculptures using only tools found in nature.
• Shape search – Find common shapes (square, circle, triangle etc.) in nature
Color search – Identify colors of the rainbow found in nature.
• Bird song – Listen for a bird call and attempt your own imitation.
For more information or to join us as a partner please e-mail or call 919-707-9893.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 West Jones St., Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Hours: Mon. –Sat., 9am–5pm and Sun., Noon–5pm. Admission is free. Find more information online at The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.

N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs Joins in Take A Child Outside Week Efforts

Take A Child Outside Week (September 24-30) has become a fall tradition in North Carolina and beyond. Take A Child Outside week is an initiative of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and is now held in cooperation with many partners in the U.S. and Canada. (See the official press release above).

The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is a proud supporter of Take A Child Outside week and promotes it through the NC-EE listserv, social media and other contacts. This is a great way for environmental education centers and organizations to promote their programs and join in the efforts to get more kids (and adults!) outdoors.

Taking part is easy. Here are some tips on easy ways to join in:
  • Use the Guide to Environmental Education Centers in North Carolina to find places to explore!
  • If you are an organization that provides events or programs, be sure you have joined in as a partner  on the Take A Child Outside website: If you have already planned activities, put them on the EE Calendar! (Here is an example from Lake Waccamaw State Park)
  • Brand programs that get kids outside as “Take A Child Outside” events and post them to the EE Calendar. You can plan new events or just tag them with the Take A Child Outside name.
  • Post photos of your outdoor events and outings during the week to our Facebook page at 

Interested in research articles that show the positive effects of time spent outdoors? Check our EE Research and Data page:

Monday, August 20, 2012

School Gardens and Service Learning--A new North Carolina Tradition!

In North Carolina, UNC TV's Almanac Gardener is a spring and summer tradition. A recent story featured on this popular state-wide program highlighted what is becoming another North Carolina tradition--school gardens and service learning! Watch the segment below on the Guilford County School Garden Network to learn more about the health and educational benefits of school gardens of all types! It is also notable that this program integrates the garden with service learning projects for the students.

                                                   Watch Gardening at School on PBS. See more from Almanac Gardener.

There are many school gardens and outdoor learning environments across North Carolina and research increasingly shows that time spent outside in engaged, hands-on learning has positive health and academic benefits. Learn more on the "Outdoor Classroom" and "EE Research" tags on our environmental education news feed.

Need funding for a school garden or outdoor learning environment? Check out our Environmental Education Grants page--you'll be surprised at how many related grants are available. Also, the Environmental Education Contests page is helpful as well, as several contests also provide support for school gardens, farm-to-school type programs and more.

Orange County Teacher Wins Governor's Conservation Achievement Award

Eric Landon McDuffie, an eighth-grade science teacher at C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough, has been awarded the Governor's Conservation Achievement Environmental Educator of the Year Award by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Each year the North Carolina Wildlife Federation presents the prestigious Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards, an effort to honor individuals, governmental bodies, organizations, and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina. These are the highest natural resource honors given in the state.

Eric has a long history of integrating environmental education and using outdoor learning with his classes. This award specifically stems from Eric's successful efforts to obtain a $355,000 Clean Water Trust Fund grant to improve water quality on the school's campus. The project not only improved water quality--it also provided an outdoor classroom for the school!

Eric has a strong environmental background--he once worked as a fisheries biologist and he is also currently enrolled in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program. Congratulations Eric!

Some of Eric's students already promoting the benefits of outdoor, hands-on learning!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

N.C. Team Places Third at North American Envirothon!

Congratulations to Raleigh's Enloe High School Envirothon Team that recently represented our state at the North American Envirothon competition, held this year in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. They placed 3rd out of 54 teams from across the United States and Canada. This is no small feat folks! Read more about it in this press release from the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. Thanks to Sheila Jones, Environmental Education Specialist with Wake SWCD, for passing this along!

N.C. Team in Top 3 at North American Envirothon!

Three’s a charm and a huge win for North Carolina’s State Champion Envirothon team from Enloe High School in Raleigh.  Putting five heads together, they clinched 3rd Place at the 2012 Envirothon, a week long environmental education competition held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA and sponsored by Canon U.S.A., Inc. 

The five high school students competed with an international field of 54 high school teams—44 U.S. states, nine Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory.  They achieved the second highest Oral presentation score, and tied for the top Wildlife score.  In total, the team took home $15,000 in scholarships -- $3,000 each, an engraved plaque, and Canon products for their school and local sponsor Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.

At the Envirothon, all qualifying teams receive training and are then tested on soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues under the supervision of foresters, soil scientists, wildlife specialists, limnologists, and other natural resources and environmental education professionals.

Teamwork, problem solving and public speaking skills are evaluated as each team offers a panel of judges a 20-minute oral presentation containing recommendations for solving an environmental problem related to the annual theme. This year’s theme was “Low Impact Development” (LID) that focused on how hard surfaces increase stormwater runoff and water quality problems.  LID is a design approach that develops land with the water cycle in mind by incorporating “best practices” that manage and reduce nonpoint source pollution to protect the health of watersheds.

The team’s journey to nationals began at the 2012 Area 4 Envirothon held in March.  Studying after school and on weekends paid off as they captured 1st Place, earning the privilege to advance to the 2012 NC Envirothon in April. Over 2,000 students, 220 teachers and 200 schools participate in the North Carolina Envirothon, “the natural challenge”.  Overall, more than 500,000 teenagers participate each year in the Envirothon throughout North America to win a share of $120,000 in scholarships and Canon products. 

Wake County high schools have placed in the Top Five at the North American  Envirothon three times since 2001 and in the Top Six in 2006!  Wake County middle schools and high schools are invited to form teams and register for the 2013 Envirothon by contacting Sheila Jones at Wake Soil & Water Conservation District  at (919) 250-1065 or

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Raleigh Teens Competed in National Canon Envirothon Competition...

Asheville, NC had the honor of hosting the 2009 Canon Envirothon!

Well, as you know from the story above, our North Carolina Team did quite well! We decided to leave this story as it gives some background information on N.C. Envirothon. We have also added a few Envirothon facts the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District and Steve Bennett, state Envirothon Coordinator with the NCDA&CS Division of Soil and Water Conservation sent us:

*The North Carolina Envirothon began in 1991 and celebrated its 20th Anniversary last year in 2011.

*This summer's 2012 Canon Envirothon marked the environmental education program's 25th Anniversary.

*The N.C. Envirothon has hosted the North American Canon Envirothon twice in Asheville.

*North Carolina is 2nd only behind Pennsylvania for having the most teams score consistently in the Top 10 over the Envirothon's 25 years!

*North Carolina had the first blind and low vision team in the nation compete in a regional Envirothon. The "Green Knights" from the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh competed at the 2011 Area 4 Envirothon in Bunn, NC. 

Previous story: North Carolina's 2012 state champion Envirothon team, Enloe High School's "Sub-Chronic Exposure," is on their way to the National Canon Envirothon competition. Teams from 45 states and 9 Canadian provinces will compete in this academic contest which requires a comprehensive knowledge of several environmental topics and issues. This year's focus is nonpoint source pollution and low impact development. The competition is July 22-27 at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. In 2009, it was hosted on the campus of UNC Asheville.

You can read more about the team on the Friends of Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District blog.

The N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is proud to support the efforts of N.C. Envirothon. Congratulations to all the North Carolina competition winners! Second place went to "D C Endemic," a homeschool group from Davidson county, and third place went to the Durham 4-H "Natural Disasters."

The Canon Envirothon is North America's largest environmental education competition for high school students. In North Carolina, Envirothon is sponsored by the state’s 96 local soil and water conservation districts and their association, with organizing support from the N. C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation. N.C. Environthon offers competitions for both high school and middle school students and also offers trainings each summer for Envirothon team advisors. To find out how to participate, visit or contact your local soil and water conservation district.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Environmental Educator Named Tar Heel of the Week

Renee with her husband Scot Pressley
Renee Strnad, an environmental educator for N.C. State University Extension Forestry and the state Project Learning Tree coordinator was named Tar Heel of the Week by the News & Observer for her accomplishments as an environmental educator. 

Renee is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and currently serves as the President of Environmental Educators of North Carolina. She was recently awarded Project Learning Tree Gold Star Award, the highest honor bestowed by PLT to a PLT program coordinator in recognition of their years of exemplary service to Project Learning Tree.

Congratulations to Renee! Go here to read the story

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grandfather Mountain Director of Education and Natural Resources Receives National Honor

Congratulations to Jesse Pope! Jesse is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator and serves as the current past president on the board of the N.C. Association of Environmental Education Centers. It is noteworthy that a tourism industry group recognized a career environmental educator for this honor!

More details in the press release below from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation:

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, NC-- The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is proud to announce that Director of Education and Natural Resources, Jesse Pope has been selected as a member of the "Forty for the Future," travel's leading talent project by the Southeast Tourism Society.

The purpose of the award is to recognize 40 young professionals under the age of 40 from across the country in the tourism industry.  The goal is to highlight certain younger professionals whose work and commitment to travel and tourism has made a positive difference.

Jesse Pope came to Grandfather in 2002 as a wildlife keeper and backcountry ranger.  In 2004, Pope's extraordinary knowledge and friendly demeanor led management to ask him to develop a Naturalist program for Grandfather Mountain.     

During his tenure as Chief Naturalist, Pope took the program from the seed of an idea to the experience that visitors report adds the most value to a visit.  In 2010, he was named Director of Education and Natural Resources, managing three full time and three part time employees.

As Director of Education and Natural Resources for the Stewardship Foundation, Jesse develops and oversees educational experiences, conservation efforts, and resource management; ensures that educational programming aligns with GMSF's mission and state and national guidelines for environmental education; oversees all aspects of education, including formal and non-formal programs, and guided hikes; promotes GMSF's efforts to the public and to the educational and biological communities.

"Pope is the most knowledgeable person on the mountain about most anything in his field: birding, plant identification, the characteristics of distinct Appalachian ecological communities, trail maintenance, high angle search and rescue, opening cars when the keys have been locked inside and much more," said Penn Dameron, president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

He is certified in everything from Environmental Education to National Park Service Eastern High Angle Rescue and is currently enrolled in a Masters program for Environmental Education at Montreat College.  The vast spectrum of knowledge Pope has acquired through his educational background and his 10 years of experience meld with his naturally gregarious personality to make him a truly unique educator. All of Grandfather Mountain is his classroom.

For more information about Southeast Tourism Society and the "Forty for the Future Award," please visit the Southeast Tourism Society website at

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth's resources.  For more information, visit or call 800-468-7325.

NCSU Researchers Visit Environmental Literacy Center to Test Environment-based Learning Game

Guest post by Deja Smith, N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs Summer Intern
A group of researchers from North Carolina State University Department of Computer Science recently visited the Environmental Literacy Center to test their prototype video game, “Future Worlds.” The scientists collaborated with a group of middle school summer campers from the Museum of Natural Sciences’ Investigate Lab camp to test the prototype. The principal investigators on the project are Jonathon Rowe, James Lester, Brad Mott, Eleni Lobene, James Minogue and Marc Russo. 

Future Worlds is an interactive cyberlearning tool explores the causes and effects of different factors on environmental systems and how human actions can have negative and positive effects on the environment.  The layout is planned to be in “Sim City” style where the participant is an outside user controlling different environmental factors and examining those effects on the environment.

The campers worked with a paper prototype of the game as well as a Microsoft Surface 40” multi- touch computer table.  Phrases such as “This is awesome!” “Wow this is so cool!” “I can’t wait to show my friends this” and “I learned a lot, but still had fun” were heard throughout the room. Future Worlds is still in its beginning stages and is expected to be completed in 2013. It is set to be an interactive exhibit in the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences the same year.   

The Environmental Literacy Center is operated by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and is located on the 3rd floor of the Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center in Raleigh.  The center is open to educators by appointment to use for environmental education-related research, small meetings and other work sessions. Contact the N.C. Office of Environmental Education for details.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sturgeon City Holds First Program Alumni Event

Photo of Sturgeon City Alumni  from See more great photos of the alumni in the story's photo gallery!

Sturgeon City, a unique environmental and civic education center in Jacksonville, NC, recently held its first program alumni homecoming. Several individuals shared remembrances of the environmental education programs they participated in as middle school and high school students and described how Sturgeon City has positively impacted their lives, their community and the local environment.

The Jacksonville Daily News quotes Brandon Fresia, who was in Sturgeon City's first program in 1999: "To feel like I was doing something for the community in the future, that I would actually have a say-so in something that was going to be pretty big was huge for me. Thirteen years later (Sturgeon City) has moved 100 times fold from where it started ... so just to imagine where it’s going to be at it in another 10 years makes me excited." Read more about Sturgeon City, the alumni and their experiences in the Jacksonville Daily News, Sturgeon City Welcomes Back Alumni.

Sturgeon City is on the site of the city's former wastewater treatment plant. Several of the original structures remain and some house their environmental education programs. Sturgeon City's story is just as unique as its facilities. For more than 40 years, the City of Jacksonville discharged its wastewater into the New River. In 1997, the City moved to an environmentally friendly and expandable land application treatment system which stopped discharging the treated effluent into the river. Residents were concerned about the severely degraded condition of the waterway and the Jacksonville City Council determined that it was their moral responsibility to help clean up the area where the City’s discharge had occurred. An initiative was created that used bioremediation to help jump-start natural processes. Students volunteered to help and became excited about being part of something that effected a positive change they could see. Further, many were excited about the science being used, about working alongside field scientists and about the power of volunteerism. Their enthusiasm inspired a community to transform the former wastewater treatment plant that had contributed to the problem to stand as a reminder of the civic action that overcame a degraded river and to be a force for the future to protect the river and other natural resources.

North Carolina Loses Great Friend and Supporter of Environmental Education

Joe C. Hogue Jr., a strong supporter of environmental education in North Carolina, recently passed away at age 69. Joe worked for more than 30 years with the North Carolina Forest Service and played a key role in the development of the state's educational state forests. Joe later became the N.C. Forest Service's Information & Education Chief and was a key figure in the development of the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program in the early 1990s. Joe continued to play an active part in the EE Certification Program and in environmental education as a whole until his retirement in 2002. Even after his retirement, it was not unusual for Joe to drop by the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs or at environmental education gatherings around the state. He will certainly be missed. Joe's complete obituary is available here.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

N.C. Certified Environmental Educator Recognized by Virginia DEQ Environmental Educators Leadership Program

George Jefferson, an assistant park ranger at Hanging Rock State Park and a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator, was recently recognized by the Virgina Department of Environmental Quality Environmental Educators Leadership Program (EELP) as an Environmental Education Leader. This is the highest level of recognition in the EELP. George's recognition is very appropriate as he conducts environmental education programs in both states. He is also a Virginia Master Naturalist and a trained facilitator for several Virginia-based environmental education programs. Congratulations George! You can read more about George and other N.C. Certified Environmental Educators at

Thursday, May 31, 2012

North Carolina Environmental Educator Receives Project Learning Tree® Gold Star Award

Congratulations to Renee Strnad, the North Carolina Project Learning Tree Coordinator, on winning the Project Learning Tree Gold Star Award! Renee is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and has served as an  essential partner with the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs in the development of the N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan and the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program. Read more about Renee and her work in the PLT press release below:

Washington, D.C. – Project Learning Tree® (PLT), the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation, honored Renee Strnad, North Carolina Project Learning Tree Coordinator with NC State University - Extension Forestry, with a PLT Gold Star Award.  The PLT Gold Star Award is the highest honor bestowed by PLT to a PLT program coordinator or partner in recognition of their years of exemplary service to Project Learning Tree. 

Kathy McGlauflin, Director of Project Learning Tree and Senior Vice President of Education with the American Forest Foundation, presented the award to Strnad on May 17 during PLT’s 26th International Coordinators’ Conference in Deadwood, South Dakota. 

“Renee’s passion for environmental education and for inspiring students and teachers is contagious,” said McGlauflin.  “Her unflagging support of PLT since early in 2000 has provided thousands of educators in North Carolina with professional development and curriculum support to help engage their students in learning about the natural world, forests, and the importance of stewardship.  She finds creative ways to engage people of all ages in learning about the environment and is a true believer that you should ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’”

Strnad came to North Carolina after graduating from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas in 1997 with a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.  She was drawn initially to the Outer Banks by an environmental education position and within the year she relocated to Raleigh and NC State University where she is the Environmental Educator for Extension Forestry in the College of Natural Resources and North Carolina PLT coordinator.

PLT provides educators with the tools they need to bring the environment into the classroom and their students into the environment.  PLT’s curriculum materials cover topics ranging from forests, wildlife, and water, to community planning, waste management and energy.  The curriculum meets national and state education standards, including the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for grades K-8 in language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Strnad has been a certified environmental educator in North Carolina since 2003.  She coordinates teacher professional development, as well as classroom programs and field activities for K-12 students.  She supports 4-H natural resource programs statewide and serves as a liaison between the College of Natural Resources at NC State University and environmental educators.  She also coordinates forestry institutes each summer for educators -- one on the coast and one in the mountains.

“I play in the woods, teach about the woods, and increase the knowledge of teachers and students like,” says Strand of herself.  “A personal passion is ensuring that people understand the ecology and importance of forest fires in maintaining forest health in our state,” says Strnad.

Strnad also helps citizens better understand issues surrounding solid waste.  She developed a workshop series on municipal solid waste in cooperation with North Carolina’s office of Environmental Assistance and Outreach.  She serves her community as a member of the Board of Directors for the Scrap Exchange, a non-profit creative reuse center, based in Durham, whose mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.
Since 2008, Strnad has been a key player in efforts to align North Carolina’s state standards with national environmental literacy guidelines.  She was instrumental in acquiring the first funding to support implementation of the N.C. Environmental Literacy Plan through a baseline study of environmental literacy in North Carolina students.

In 2009 Strnad was the winner of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina award for Outstanding Service, and she currently serves as President for the group.  In 2011, she received the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Environmental Educator of the Year award.

Strnad also supports national environmental education efforts through her work with the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE), and last year she chaired NAAEE’s Volunteer Committee for their annual conference that was held in Raleigh in October.  She is currently serving as President of Environmental Educators of North Carolina, which is the NAAEE Affiliate in North Carolina. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

N.C. Environmental Education Center Becomes First State Attraction to Join NC GreenTravel Initiative

Grandfather Mountain, one of the state's recognized "N.C. Environmental Education Centers," recently became the first attraction to join and become certified to the NC GreenTravel Initiative, a program that recognizes state travel-related businesses that employ healthy environmental practices. The N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach – in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University and the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development in the N.C. Department of Commerce – launched the NC GreenTravel Initiative earlier this year to spotlight the state’s commitment to sustainable practices and to recognize businesses that have integrated greener practices into their daily routine.

Grandfather Mountain has long been dedicated to environmental education for visitors as well as schools, civic groups and many others. Over the last several years, they have also integrated their dedication to EE with a commitment to sustainably. This has included generating its own green power through an array of photovoltaic cells; using solar thermal panels to heat the water and supply radiant heat in Grandfather’s Fudge Shop; and using 100 percent compostable and biodegradable plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives and take-out containers in its Nature Museum Restaurant. Recycling bins for aluminum and plastic can also be found in different locations throughout the park.

Read the entire N.C. DENR Press Release for more details as well as contact information for the NC GreenTravel Program.

N.C. Teacher Wins Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators!

Frank McKay, a teacher at Exploris Middle School in Raleigh, has been awarded one of 18 Presidential Innovation Awards for Environmental Educators.  This award recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers for excellence in integrating environmental education into their lessons and connecting students with their communities and the natural world. The award is sponsored by the White House Council on Environmental Quality in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Exploris is an urban charter school with no school grounds or outdoor classroom spaces, but Frank has worked with many community partners and local and state agencies to find environmental education experiences for his students, including the City of Raleigh's Walnut Creek Wetlands Center.  (Here is more about Frank's work at Exploris).

For more information about the award program, visit the PIAEE page on the EPA website.

Congratulations Frank!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meet North Carolina Certified Environmental Educators!

For several years the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs has featured profiles of individuals certified through the N.C. Environmental Educator Certification Program. We recently moved all of the past profiles to a new blog format. Check them out at

You can also access the profiles from the main EE Certification site, which lists all N.C. Certified Educators by county.

The North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program recognizes professional development in environmental education and acknowledges educators committed to environmental stewardship. This 200-hour program establishes standards for professional excellence in environmental education for formal and non-formal educators. It consists of workshops, field experiences, teaching experiences and and environmental education community partnership project.

To more about the program, including the enrollment process, are available at

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EECapacity Seeks to Enhance Environmental Education in Urban Communities

A training focused on addressing environmental education in urban communities took place the week of May 15th in Washington, DC. This project stems from a five-year Environmental Protection Agency environmental education professional development program grant that was awarded to the Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab. The EE Capcity program "seeks to redefine environmental education practice within the context of an increasingly urban society" and will also research the role of new social networks in creating innovative educational practices.

Though the training has ended, the program continues and Twitter users can still continue the discussion with the hashtag #eecap. For a detailed story on the EE Capacity project, read this piece in the Cornell Chronicle. Photo from Cornell Chronicle.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eleven N.C. Colleges Make Princeton Review's "Green Colleges" Guide

The Princeton Review, in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, released its third annual edition of "The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition" in April. Eleven North Carolina colleges made the list this year!

Appalachian State University
Catawba College
Duke University
Elon University
Guilford College
North Carolina State University
University of North Carolina at Asheville
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wake Forest University
Warren Wilson College
Western Carolina University

"The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition" profiles 322 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada that demonstrate notable commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. The 232-page book—the only free, comprehensive, annually updated guide to green colleges—can be downloaded at  and The Guide was developed with generous support from United Technologies Corp (, founding sponsor of the Center for Green Schools. (From the Princeton Review Press Release)

Congratulations again to the eleven, but we know many more North Carolina four-year, two-year and community colleges are doing great work in environmental education, sustainability and green-jobs workforce development. We'll try to feature more of those in EE News Tips and in the "EE College" tag on our Delicious feed.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two N.C. Schools Named U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Congratulations to Evergreen Community Charter School in Asheville and American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro for being named two of the first U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools! Read more about this new program in the press release below:

Obama Administration Names 78 Schools in 29 States and D.C. as First-Ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Winners Represent a Diverse Portfolio of Schools, Includes 66 Public and 12 Private Schools in Urban and Rural Communities

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined today by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to announce the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, a list including 78 schools that span 29 states and D.C.

The announcement was made during a visit to Stoddert Elementary School, one of D.C.’s two honorees.

“Science, environmental and outdoor education plays a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

"Schools that take a green approach cut costs on their utility bills, foster healthy and productive classrooms, and prepare students to thrive in the 21st century economy," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "These Green Ribbon School award winners are taking outstanding steps to educate tomorrow's environmental leaders, and demonstrating how sustainability and environmental awareness make sense for the health of our students and our country."

The 78 awarded schools were named winners from among nearly 100 nominees submitted by 30 state education agencies, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education. More than 350 schools completed applications to their state education agencies. Among the list of winners are 66 public schools including 8 charters, and 12 private schools composed of 43 elementary, 31 middle and 26 high schools with around 50 percent representing high poverty schools.

"These Green Ribbon Schools are giving students and educators what they need to maximize learning and minimize risks like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ensuring that no child is burdened by pollution in or around their school," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Today's winners are protecting our children's health and opening up environmental education opportunities for students. The EPA is proud to help recognize the Green Ribbon award winners and will continue working to improve the environment of our nation’s schools and helping prepare students to succeed in the emerging green economy.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s “Green Ribbons” are one-year recognition awards. Next year’s competition will open in summer 2012. State agencies are encouraged to send their intents to submit nominees by June 15, 2012 via email to .

Connect with more U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools resources.

Read all U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools blogs.