Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Educator Spotlight: Jane Jarrett

Congratulations to Jane Jarrett for completing her N.C. Environmental Education Certification. Jane is an instructor at East Carolina University, where she teaches undergraduate students majoring in recreation and park management and recreation therapy. “One of the classes I teach is recreation and event programming, where I mentor students through the writing of program plans and implementation of community events and programs,” said Jane. When asked about her life outside of work, Jane replied, “When I am not working you can find me spending time with my two large dogs, my snake or my bird!”

For her community partnership project, Jane created a set of interactive nature boxes for a schoolyard garden in Greenville, North Carolina. Her project was part of an afterschool program for children who have underperformed in a traditional school environment. Jane created nature boxes with different themes related to the schoolyard garden, with a special focus on birds and pollinators. “My goal was to develop interactive, themed nature boxes that motivated students and kept them engaged,” said Jane.

Jane partnered with the East Carolina University Lab School and the Pitt County School System to implement her project. To help students keep up with their school curriculum, Jane ensured that learning materials in the nature boxes were related to vocabulary and concepts learned in the classroom. Nature boxes contained crafts, games, activities, and lesson plans for teachers and other learning facilitators.

As an educator focusing on community-based initiatives, it was important to Jane to create a project that engaged not only the school children, but the other community members involved in implementing the afterschool program. “This project engages members of the community by providing them resources to utilize while working with the participants. Having the materials, lessons, activities, games etc. ready to implement makes this project accessible for the facilitators/teachers/volunteers. The nature boxes, Children's Garden and afterschool program are provided to the participants for free.”

Jane said her favorite part of the N.C. Environmental Education Certification process was the chance “to interact with passionate educators and facilitators.” She also stated that participating in the certification program led to some changes in her teaching style. "I started noticing more subtle connections that I have personally made to enhance my labs and lectures...I was able to share methods of teaching environmental education with my students and encouraged them to create an atmosphere of excitement rather than advocacy with their participants."

When asked about the trainings and workshops that she enjoyed most during the certification process, Jane said she appreciated programs that “involved audience participation and got people outside their comfort zone.”

To learn more about the NC Environmental Education Certification, visit the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' website.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Educator Spotlight: Kristin Gibson

In June of 2018, Kristin Gibson completed her N.C. Environmental Education Certification. Kristin was serving as an AmeriCorps Coastal Community Engagement Specialist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation in Newport, North Carolina.

To complete her certification, Kristin organized a community partnership project focused on cleaning up marine debris on the beaches of Emerald Isle. Kristin’s project idea was motivated by the pollution she witnessed growing up along the North Carolina coast. “Spending my high school years in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, I have always known how important the summer tourists are to the local economy. However, after a long day at the beach, tourists would litter the area with straws, bags, and other plastics. Marine debris is unsightly, and takes away from the aesthetic value of the beach.”

In the fall of 2017, Kristin attended the Marine Debris Symposium, where she watched a presentation by the founder of BlueTube, an organization that collects recycled plastic bags and uses the bags as receptacles for beachgoers to collect trash. The presentation by BlueTube founder Patty Goffinet had a strong effect on Kristin. “The minute she finished her presentation, I knew BlueTube was something we needed in Emerald Isle. Not only to protect our economy, but to decrease the amount of litter entering the marine environment through education and direct action.”

Kristin orchestrated the construction of BlueTubes at two beach access points at Emerald Isle. BlueTubes are bright blue, easy-to-spot containers that hold reused plastic bags. As Kristin explains, “BlueTubes are installed at beach crossovers so people can grab a bag on their way to the beach, pick up trash and throw it away.” Kristin partnered with BlueTube Beaches, Emerald Isle Realty, and the Town of Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation to complete her project. At the end of her project, Kristin held a mini beach cleanup and public installation event, where she explained to attendees the environmental impact of marine debris.

Looking back on her certification process, Kristin stated that the program taught her to better understand how to provide educational material for different audiences. “Participating in the EE Certification program has taught me to pay more attention to age appropriate lessons and the different types of learners. This was very beneficial for my after school programming! I was able to create much more effective curriculum and lessons for the students.”

Kristin also believes that her NC Environmental Education Certification provided her with useful skills for her future career. “Earning my EE certification has allowed me to network with other educators, learn new teaching skills, and gain more knowledge of the environment in North Carolina.” Kristin encouraged other young educators to pursue the certification program, especially those who do not yet have experience in environmental education. “As a new educator, it was very helpful, and I think college students looking at the field would feel the same way.”

To learn more about BlueTube, visit the BlueTube website. To learn more about the NC Environmental Education Certification, visit the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs' website.