Monday, October 31, 2016

Emilee Mroz - Educator Spotlight

Emilee Mroz, a marine science educator and outdoor instructor at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores recently completed the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program. Mroz leads camps, school programs and kayaking and paddle board programs at the aquarium. She also works with aquatic animals including alligators and sea turtles.

For her community partnership project component of the certification program, Mroz worked with the Bogue Banks Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, a local non-profit, and a Boy Scout troop to install cigarette “cannons” on some of the beaches near her home. “The town of Emerald Isle is a popular tourist destination. The Surfrider Foundation and other local environmental groups conduct beach cleanups regularly and cigarette butts are the most common type of trash found littered on the beaches. I decided to find a way to encourage people to not to leave their cigarette butts on the beach,” said Mroz.

Members of the Boy Scout troop and Surfrider Foundation worked together to assemble and paint cigarette receptacles to be placed on local beaches and a local hardware store in the area donated most of the materials.  The finished cannons were installed next to the trash cans on the beach at a major access points. The Town of Emerald Isle’s Public Works and Solid Waste Department will empty the cigarette cannons along with the trash cans. Mroz hopes that this project not only raised awareness of the litter problem but will help make the beaches cleaner for everyone, including the wildlife.

When asked how participating in the program has changed her teaching or perspective on the environment, Mroz said, “I have used a number of the activities from the workshops in my teaching. I have also learned a lot about different flora and fauna which has helped me be a more thoughtful educator. I have deepened my appreciation for the natural world, especially the diversity here in North Carolina.”

For more information about the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, visit the aquarium’s website. For more information about the Office of Environmental Education or the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program, visit

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