Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Educator Spotlight: Carrie Harmon

Carrie Harmon recently earned her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. She is an education ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service at Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. When Carrie is not managing the forest through prescribed burns, weed control, and soil and water management, she is teaching visiting groups about forestry.

Carrie said that her favorite part of the program was exploring new Environmental Education Centers across the state and learning about existing environmental education resources. A workshop at the Carolina Beach State Park especially stands out, where she took a bat workshop and skulls, tracks and scat workshop. "The identification handouts were really helpful, and I have used the information given when I teach classes at the forest."

Her community partnership project focused on increasing environmental literacy within Bladen County. She did this by setting up a Little Free Library at Jones Lake State Park and organizing a Summer Read and Hike Day to celebrate the official opening of the Free Library. "By stocking the library with books geared toward environmental literacy, citizens will hopefully become more aware and sensitive to problems in the environment and will have the knowledge to tackle them." Community members donated books focusing on nature and the environment and were integral in the success of Bladen County's first Little Free Library. "I wanted residents of Bladen County to have something that they could claim ownership of; something that was a lasting impact on the community. The out-pour of book donations from community members and local organizations has been incredible."

The Environmental Education Certification program provided Carrie with new resources and methodologies that she can apply to her work as a ranger. "I have gained so many resources for teaching thanks to EE Certification. I would never have attended all the fascinating workshops at all the various EE Centers if I hadn't gone through the program. Now, I have a plethora of guides, fact sheets, web links, workbooks, and tools to use in my teaching. This helps to broaden the information that I give in my classes."

Carrie also says that the program impacted her own interactions with the environment. "'I've definitely become more aware of the interrelationships of systems within the environment. A change in one thing, whether it's a population of an insect species or the temperature of a stream, can cause a ripple effect and change other things. This awareness has evolved my own interaction with the environment, hopefully for the better."

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