The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently recognized 223 educators who have completed a comprehensive certification program in environmental education. This accomplished group of individuals truly reflects the diversity of educators in the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program, as it includes nature center and museum educators, naturalists, teachers, park rangers, academics and many other professionals in the private and public sectors.
The program is administered by the Office of Environmental
Education and Public Affairs in the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) and is a partnership between DENR, the N.C. Department of Public
Instruction, Environmental Educators of North Carolina, the N.C. Association of
Environmental Education Centers and the Wildlife Resources Commission.
|The honorees were all smiles!|
Honorees and guests from around the state attended a Nov. 22 ceremony at Embassy Suites in Cary. The keynote was given by Pat Simmons,
|Pat Simmons, incoming director of|
of the N.C. Zoo, gave the keynote
(and it was great).
Simmons thanked the honorees for their dedication and challenged them to continue their innovative collaborations that bring nonformal educators and classroom teachers together to educate children and adults about our state's natural resources. Her sentiments were echoed by Bill Cobey, Chairman of the State Board of Education, and Beverly Vance, Section Chief of K-12 Science for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Chairman Cobey noted: "The fact that we are honoring both classroom teachers and nonformal educators tonight is proof of the important partnership between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Instruction in promoting environmental literacy in our state."
Guests and honorees were able to see the premier of this short film that explains the certification program from the first-hand experiences of four certified educators. The film was created by Martin Kane with the Division of Parks and Recreation.
Other special guests at event included DENR Secretary John Skvarla, Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers, Division of Parks and Recreation Director Michael Murphy, Environmental Educators of North Carolina President Dr. Brad Daniel and North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers President-elect Sarah Kendrick.
The North Carolina Environmental Education program was the first of its kind in the nation and has served as a model for other states following North Carolina’s lead. The North Carolina Environmental Education program establishes standards for professional excellence in environmental education while recognizing educators committed to increasing environmental literacy. Individuals must complete 200 hours of professional development to be certified, which includes 70 hours of instructional workshops, 50 hours of outdoor environmental education experiences, 30 hours of experiences that promote awareness of the state’s environmental education resources and 30 hours of teaching experiences.
The program also requires an environmental education partnership project that addresses a need in educators’ communities. These projects have had far-reaching impacts on communities throughout the state, providing projects such as interpretive trails, recycling programs, school and community gardens, outdoor classrooms and even small ecological restorations. Examples of these projects can be viewed on the EE Certification blog.
For more information about the program or to enroll, visit www.eenorthcarolina.org