Jason Meador is a fisheries/mussel biologist with Mainspring Conservation Trust whose service area covers approximately 1.8 million acres in the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River Basins and is located within the six most-western counties in North Carolina: Cherokee, Clay, Swain, Macon, Jackson and Graham Counties and also Rabun County, Georgia. Jason conducts stream biomonitoring, stream restoration and provides environmental education for schools and summer camps in their six counties. When he is not working, Jason enjoys fishing, kayaking, hunting, foraging for mushrooms and snorkeling.
When asked about his favorite part of the certification program, Jason said networking with other educators. “My role as a non-formal educator came out of necessity since biomonitoring and restoration are seasonal events. In 2012, I needed to find a niche and source of funds to continue to stay full-time. The education piece has become the most popular program and the certification process has allowed me to revise and improve what we can offer.”
Jason says the Methods of Teaching Environmental Education (MOTEE) training offered by the NC Arboretum for the first time as a virtual workshop stood out to him. “Nearly half of my hours were earned in 2020 during COVID. Virtual classes have their pros and cons. However, the virtual MOTEE course with an hour and a half class for five days and homework was a great way to absorb the information.” He also notes the Growing Up WILD and CATCH workshops offered by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission as being hands-on and a lot of fun. He is already thinking of workshops for his continuing education credits, “I'll be taking Project WILD and Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) for continuing education.”
For his community partnership project, Jason examined the impacts of hunting and fishing from an ecological and trophic level viewpoint. “Partnering with NC Wildlife Resources Commission and NC Wildlife Federation we created curriculum appropriate in a classroom setting for students to analyze wildlife populations with and without humans managing certain species.”
When asked if the certification changed his approach to teaching, Jason says it encouraged the use of critical thinking and age-appropriate teaching. “We still have the same core programs, but I have revised everything, so the students are using critical thinking skills rather than listening to a presentation. In addition, I can offer more programs to a wide variety of ages. I was teaching 8-12th grade, now I teach PreK-12th grades.”
Jason says having a strong science background, the certification did not change the way he thinks about environmental issues, but it did influence his approach. “I am slow to jump to conclusions and I try to gather as much information to help make decisions. I am thankful that this course emphasizes a non-advocacy approach to teaching. We are not pushing an agenda, simply teaching students how to find information and make their own decisions.”