Friday, May 22, 2020

Mecklenburg County Educator Cassie Skrutowski Completes Her N.C. Environmental Education Certification

Cassie Skrutowski, an educator at Reedy Creek Nature Center in Charlotte and at Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill, recently completed the NC Environmental Education Certification.

Cassie develops and teaches environmental education programs to school groups on field trips and provides programs to the public. She works with all age groups but her main audience is elementary-aged students. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking and nature art.

Cassie says the instructional workshops were her favorite part of the program because of the curriculum guides she received. “The guidebooks have many environmental activities in them that are extremely useful for educators. These workshops were always well put together and allowed us to explore ways we could teach the activities for varying age groups and locations. Playful Pedagogy was a workshop that stood out to me because the activities were all about letting children play and learn through play, which was such an interesting concept for me to learn about.”

For her community partnership project, Cassie created lesson plans for local preschools based on age-appropriate books about animals. She also brought nature center animals for the students to touch and learn about including hermit crabs, starfish and a yellow-bellied slider. The preschools will be able to use the lesson plans in the future and hopefully continue to incorporate environmental content into their learning.

Cassie says the certification changed her approach to teaching in several ways. “I learned about the NC school standards and how lesson plans should be in accordance with those standards for field trips. I also learned that as an environmental educator, my focus during teaching should be to give all the facts, and let my students draw their own conclusions. We, as educators, should not "force" our opinions on anyone, or try to lead them to conclusions that we personally believe are correct. I try my best now to be unbiased while teaching, and to provide all sides of any issue I speak about.”

Through the program, Cassie says she also changed her view of environmental issues. “I learned about many new environmental issues that I was not knowledgeable on prior to the workshops I took. I try to think more proactively about environmental issues, and what I can do at home and work to help.”

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