Shannon Lally recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification. Shannon is a core instructor for Muddy Sneakers, a non-profit that provides an outdoor science education program for fifth graders attending public schools throughout North Carolina.
Shannon says she loved the variety of experiences that she was able to participate in as part of her certification. She particularly found the project challenging but rewarding. For her community partnership project which is required for certification, Shannon designed a curriculum for Rise and Shine Afterschool Program.
Shannon had served as a garden teacher for the afterschool program while doing her AmeriCorps service. She later reconnected with the director and learned that the program had almost shut down during the pandemic and that their enrichment curriculum was in needed of a significant upgrade. “The year-round after-school program helps poor and racial minority children learn about the fundamental importance of education, about their community and culture, and about themselves.” Shannon noted that most of their STEM enrichment time focused on math and engineering. Shannon revised the curriculum to include environmental education and connections to nature. “I added to and revised the lessons plans after facilitating them for students and volunteers this Fall. Once finalized, they will become part of the program's regular enrichment curriculum.” She hopes the new curriculum will educate students on local western North Carolina ecosystems and their role within them, hopefully, creating a sense of belonging and stewardship.
Shannon also says that the program changed the way she thinks about environmental issues. “I feel better equipped to view environmental issues from an objective place and empowered to teach others to think critically about them as well.”