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