Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Environmental Educator Spotlight – Amy Kinsella

Amy Kinsella, a forest ranger with Holmes Educational State Forest in Hendersonville completed her environmental education certification this week. 

Kinsella is responsible for monitoring the health of 235 acres of state forest and for increasing forestry literacy for audiences of all ages. She conducts a variety of environmental education programs that occur on site, in schools and through year-long outreach programs including Envirothon, career days and festivals. 

The educational state forest offers workshops such as Project Learning Tree, and have outdoor instructor-led offerings like tree ID, birding, salamanders, and wildflower hikes. The state forest also hosts volunteer groups such as boy scouts, Eagle scouts and AmeriCorps members. 

Kinsella worked with an Eagle Scout group to complete a nature trail for an elementary school for her environmental education community partnership project. She assisted with identifying the trees on the trail and designating educational points along the trail. She worked with the local correction system to have engraved signs designed for identifying the trees on the nature trail. 

Amy feels that the certification program has changed her approach to teaching others. “We are in the process of evaluating our current program offerings and creating new programs that better meet curriculum standards. It was nice to see people who are passionate about providing a quality education program and to brainstorm about the evaluation process for program offerings," she said.

For more information about Holmes Educational State Forest visit North Carolina Educational State Forests and the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs

Monday, April 25, 2016

River Basin Publications Win Printing Industry Award

River basin education publications created by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality won two awards at the 2015 PICA (Printing Industry of the Carolinas) Award ceremony in Concord on April 16. The N.C. Correction Enterprises Print Plant of Nashville received a Special Judges Award under the “campaign” category for their printing of the Discover North Carolina’s River Basins booklet and the Catawba River Basin and Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin brochures. These publications are produced by the department’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.

The PICA Awards received more than 630 entries from 47 printing companies from across the state this year. The entries were reviewed by a panel of out-of-state judges using criteria that included clarity and neatness, sharpness of halftones and line drawings, richness and tonal qualities of color, paper and ink selection, ink coverage, difficulty of printing, effective contrast or softness, finishing, bindery, and overall visual impact.

PICA represents the graphic communications industry in North and South Carolina. Since 1931, this trade association has been dedicated to advancing the success of the Carolinas’ printing and imaging industry. Working together with Printing Industries of America, the world’s largest graphic arts trade association, PICA provides training, resources, and a voice of advocacy on both a state and national level.

The river basin publications are extremely popular with teachers and the public and receiving a PICA Award is wonderful news for an already successful program. The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs provides the Discover North Carolina’s River Basins booklet, brochures on each of the state’s 17 river basins and a poster sized map of the basins to educators. The program also maintains an interactive online map to find out which basin you live in and to find environmental education centers in your area.

PICA is headquartered in Charlotte, NC. For more information, visit More information about the DEQ River Basin program at

Friday, April 22, 2016

National Ocean Sciences Bowl Finals Held in Morehead City, NC


The text below features selections from the NOSB Media Advisory shared by N.C. Sea Grant.
Read the complete Media Advisory, with a list of teams and sponsors 

Top High-School Scholars to Compete in 19th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl

Contact: Allison Hays, 202-787-1644,
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2016 as a courtesy to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

North Carolina Sea Grant is among the North Carolina sponsors for the event. Follow the events via Twitter: #NOSB16.NOSB

North Carolina is being represented at NOSB by
Walter Williams High School (Alamance County) Good luck!

 WHO: Winning teams consisting of four to five high school students from 24 regional competitions will compete in the 19th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), an education competition that tests students’ knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology. The competition consists of buzzer-style, multiple-choice questions; longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions; and the Science Expert Briefing, a mock congressional hearing where students present science recommendations on a piece of legislation, bettering their understanding on how science informs policy.

WHAT: The theme for this year’s NOSB Finals is “Our Changing Ocean: Science for Strong Coastal Communities.” This topic encompasses numerous scientific disciplines and encourages an increased understanding of the science needed to sustain strong coastal communities, including improving community awareness; addressing erosion and increasing coastal populations and development; restoring coastlines; protecting estuarine ecosystems and services; and improving coastal disaster projection, preparedness, and response. During the finals competition weekend, students will participate in a number of hands-on science activities, including a career mentoring event with leaders in the science field; a tour of Duke Marine Lab; and multiple field trips, including behind-the-scenes looks at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, a shark tagging trip aboard the R/V Capricorn, and a coastal marsh cleanup at Fort Macon State Park. The top teams at the NOSB Finals will receive an all-expense paid award trip to various locations around the world to conduct scientific research with field experts.

 WHEN: April 21-24, 2016 — April 21: career event; April 22: field trips and opening ceremony; April 23-24: NOSB Finals Competition

 WHERE: Carteret Community College, 3505 Arendell Street, Morehead City, North Carolina WHY: Most high-school students do not have the opportunity to study ocean science as part of their formal coursework. To fill this void, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., created the NOSB as an educational forum to encourage and support the next generation of marine scientists, policy-makers, teachers, explorers, researchers, technicians, environmental advocates, and informed citizens to be stewards of the ocean. Many past NOSB participants have pursued college degrees and careers in ocean science, helping to solve the growing environmental, economic, and security challenges facing our ocean and planet.

Monday, April 18, 2016

State environmental agency encourages public to take part in Earth Day events

Earth Day is Friday, April 22, and there are many environmental education events to mark the occasion throughout North Carolina. A wide variety of fun, family-oriented activities are planned that incorporate music, games and outdoor recreation. These opportunities are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and discover ways to care for our environment. To help you find events in your area on Earth Day and through April, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs compiles an online calendar on their website, Events can also be searched by city and zip code. 

Trail hikes, stream clean-ups, nature tours, music and more await those who want to explore and learn about North Carolina’s diverse environment. The public can also follow and share events, environmental education news and cool nature stories on Twitter and Facebook by following and using the hashtag #NCEarthDay. Many of these Earth Day events are also part of the N.C. Science Festival, which lasts through April 24th. For more information N.C. Science Festival events near you, see

DEQ employees will be volunteering their time on Earth Day as well. The Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs is coordinating a DEQ Earth Day volunteer event on Friday, April 22. Raleigh area employees will be participating a stream clean up along a restored section of Rocky Branch that runs through N.C. State campus. Rocky Branch, a tributary of the Neuse, was once considered the most polluted stream in North Carolina. It now provides wildlife habitat, stormwater control, recreation and transportation along the Rocky Branch Greenway.

On Earth Day 2015, Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural and Cultural Resources employees and family members teamed up to create an artificial stream bed to improve drainage and stormwater control at Prairie Ridge Ecostation.
This year DEQ employees will volunteer to do a clean-up along Rocky Branch Creek and Greenway on the N.C. State University Campus.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Environmental Education is a “Natural” Fit for Libraries, Says Syracuse U Professor

Marilyn Arnone, a School of Information Studies (iSchool) Research Associate Professor and Associate Professor of Practice with Syracuse University, was recently awarded a Carnegie-Whitney Grant by the American Library Association. Arnone now resides in North Carolina and recently became a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator.

Arnone received the grant for a project that helps librarians and educators pair fiction and nonfiction books on environmental topics. In addition to being a valuable tool for teachers and librarians, the searchable paired booklist will assist higher education faculty who teach future librarians and will serve as a resource for promoting interest in reading environmental content.

This isn’t the first time Arnone has embarked on a large project to educate future librarians about the value of collaborating with nonformal environmental education programs and providers. As part of completing the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program, she produced the “Nature Librarians” website and video series that showcases what innovative community libraries and children's and youth services’ librarians are doing to provide their communities with nature-based activities and programs for children and families. “I loved doing this project and it gave North Carolina librarians some fresh ideas for nature programming,” Arnone said.

In addition to teaching her current courses, Arnone introduced a new course for the spring of 2016 on environmental programming for librarians.

When asked if obtaining her environmental education certification advanced her career, she said, “It helped prepare me to teach librarians in the Library and Information Science program at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies how to integrate environmental programming into their efforts to serve their communities.”

To read more about Arnone and her Carnegie-Whitney Grant, visit Syracuse University School of Information Studies website at

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Science in the Great Outdoors

North Carolina's natural wonders are even more spectacular when you discover the science around them! 

This year, as part of NC State Parks 100 Year Celebration, State Parks has partnered with the North Carolina Science Festival to encourage students, adults and families to discover science in one of North Carolina’s beautiful state parks.

Kelvin, the NC Science Festival mascot, has already visited Mount Mitchell State Park. His visit reminds us that everyday citizens worked to preserve Mount Mitchell as our first park in 1916.  They understood the science enough to know that the unique alpine forest needed protection. Since then, dozens of other parks have been championed by everyday folks who discover the science of these places enough to know how special they are. 

My conservation heroes include Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Margaret Nygard and A.B. Coleman. Chance are you know the first two; the latter are North Carolinians who gave us Eno River State Park and Merchants Millpond State Park by inspiring others to appreciate theses ecological wonders.  

The NC Science Festival and the efforts of several hundred NC Environmental Educators help ensure continued support for all parks - national, state, county, city, non-profit, and public-private partnership parks.

Science and Parks are everywhere.

Science and Parks are for everyone.

Science and Parks are FUN!

For a list of fun, do-it-yourself outdoor science experiments, visit 

Blog post by Sean Higgins, Interpretation & Education Manger, North Carolina State Parks