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.

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