Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Iredell County Volunteer and Docent Whit Strunk Completes His NC Environmental Education Certification

Whit Strunk recently completed the NC Environmental Education Program. Whit is a volunteer and docent for multiple organizations including Catawba Lands Conservancy, Carolina Thread Trail, Mecklenburg Park and Recreation Department, Friends of Lake Norman State Park and Catawba Riverkeeper. When he is not volunteering, he enjoys nature study, meteorology, kayaking, canoeing, boating, hiking, camping and surf fishing.

Whit says his favorite part of the program was the wealth of knowledge shared by instructors, colleagues and peers. “The creative ways educators are using to present scientific information was invaluable. My two favorite programs were the Leopold Education Project and Certified Interpretive Guide Training.”

When asked if the certification program changed his approach to teaching, Whit says prior to pursuing certification his only teaching experience was with adults. “During the Spring and Summer of 2019, I served as a volunteer educator at Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center. Most of the participants in the programs I taught were 5th and 6th graders. This presented an enriching challenge in preparing and delivering to learners of an age different from what I was used to. I do believe that teaching young people has made me a better adult educator because I am using new and creative methodologies I learned during certification coursework.”

For his Community Partnership Project, Whit led a team of Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center staff and volunteers in building a greenhouse and a raised bed garden. Both were then used by the Aqua Sprouts 4-H Club in Iredell County. The produce grown was donated to a local food bank located in Harmony, NC. “The Aqua Sprouts 4H Club was formed to teach its members about the scientific theory and practical application of aquaponics and hydroponics. Teaching was conducted in a traditional classroom with an indoor laboratory. The club wanted to expand its program offerings to include traditional gardening techniques.  When the leader made me aware of the club’s plan for expanding their program I offered to take the lead on planning, designing and constructing a greenhouse and raised bed garden.”

When asked if the way he thinks about environmental issues changed after participating in the certification program, Whit says he more clearly recognizes the importance of presenting well researched and credible scientific information. “While I believe I always presented credible scientific information, teaching in our current political environment makes it even more important. Today I advocate less in my role as an educator, and inform more using the best scientific information available.”

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