Monday, February 27, 2017

AmeriCorps Member Expands Service With EE Certification

Barbara Goldentyer recently completed a 10-month service term with the Triangle Land Conservancy. Barbara also completed her N.C. Environmental Education Certification during that time. As part of her service, Barbara taught classes for local partners, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, the East Durham Children's Initiative and the Salvation Army.

Barbara credits the EE Certification workshops and classes with giving her a variety of fun activity ideas strategies for using outdoor and nature play with children, as well as giving her a lot of nature and environment content knowledge.
Barbara recalls one memorable moment at the East Durham Children's Initiative: "I brought a corn snake to a program with the East Durham Children's Initiative. We talked about reptiles, what makes an animal a reptile, what adaptation reptiles have, and why snakes are important and beneficial to our ecosystem and then the kids got to touch the snake. After the program, I was packing everything up, several of the kids who'd been scared of the snake wanted to see it again. One little boy just sat there very gently petting the snake with one finger for several minutes. Seeing that change in how he related to the animal in just one class really stands out to me."

For her project, she developed and facilitated a series of programs with the East Durham Children's Initiative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) summer program that consisted of eight programs for their middle and elementary school students with hands-on activities including meeting a corn snake, making reptiles out of model magic, and learning to use binoculars. The last week Goldentyer took the children out to Horton Grove Nature Preserve for a field exploration. "The East Durham Children's Initiative operates in a low income part of East Durham and many of kids had never been to a nature preserve before, so I think that experience alone, made a huge difference."

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wildlife Educator Completes Her Environmental Education Certification

Kristin Frew, a wildlife education specialist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission completed her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification this month. In her role with the commission, Frew teaches environmental programs to a wide variety of audiences and assist with staff training. In addition, she volunteers with the Piedmont Wildlife Center on their Raptor Team and serves as membership chair for Environmental Educators of North Carolina.

Frew says her favorite part of the certification program was participating in the instructional workshops. “I enjoyed traveling across the state meeting other educators and learning innovative ways to engage audiences.” She says the experience in the program that stands out the most for her was participating in the Sea Turtle Exploration Workshop at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “It was my first time going to the aquarium and we got to watch the staff feed the animals at the top of one of the tanks. If it wasn’t for the certification program, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”

For her community partnership project, Frew developed a curriculum guide for the Piedmont Wildlife Center that addresses wildlife conservation and highlights impacts on wildlife and things people of all ages can do to benefit wildlife such as recycling, building nest boxes or creating backyard habitats. Educators at Piedmont Wildlife Center were trained to use the material in their education programs.

Frew says the certification program broadened her knowledge of effective ways to teach environmental education and skills for developing and implementing programs for a wide variety of audiences. “I feel more confident in my ability to engage audiences and the resources I received from workshops are invaluable.”

Although Frew, who has a background in wildlife, had an understanding of most environmental issues coming into the certification, she says the program helped her build on that knowledge and learn more about how to present those issues to audiences in an effective way. “I feel that I am more prepared to teach others about environmental issues and the ways in which people can help prevent or solve those issues,” says Frew. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Educator Spotlight: Sara English

Sara English recently completed the N.C. Environmental Education Certification Program and credits the program with helping her move her education career in a new direction. 

When English began the program, she was working as a high school biology teacher. She now works in nonformal education as a program specialist at the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia and as an adjunct biology teacher at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “I started as the environmental educator at the Schiele, but have recently moved into aboriginal cultures specialist position focusing on Native Americans, specifically here in the Southeastern United States. It has been great to combine my new position with what I have learned as an environmental educator because the two topics are so interconnected.”

English says one of her favorite parts of the program was getting to travel to new parks and environmental education centers in North Carolina. She also enjoyed the workshops and getting to meet so many interesting people.

When asked about an experience that stands out for her, she is quick to say there are so many good experiences but recalled one workshop in particular. “Probably the best experience was the Project WILD workshop I took with Tanya Poole as one of my first workshops ever. It was then I realized that I really could have a career doing the things I loved like being outside, hiking and enjoying wildlife and not only that, but I could share it with others! It really opened by eyes to a new way of thinking and a new life for myself.”

English feels that the program influenced her approach to teaching. “It is the hands-on experiences that have really stuck with me. Getting up, going outside, doing things is so much more meaningful than sitting in a classroom and listening. They both have their perks but the hands-on experiences provide mental stimulation and it also provides you with a personal connection and stronger memory of the topic. I try to incorporate hands-on experiences with every program or workshop that I facilitate.”

When she isn’t working, English enjoys being outside anywhere with her dog and significant other. She loves science of all kinds, plays drums in a silly garage rock band called Solar Cat, and loves to read books, both fiction and nonfiction.