Kim Lehnes, a high school teacher recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification. Kim teaches biology and AP biology and credits the certification program with helping her start an “encore” or post-retirement career. “I’m that teacher who is always muddy and carrying a net and a bucket. I’m the one in the creek with her classes, trying new ways to engage my students and to learn to respect nature and all its gifts.” Kim loves to explore outdoors, travel, read historical fiction and she is a Disney fanatic. She also enjoys cooking, baking and experimenting with recipes.
Kim says the site visits were one of her favorite parts of the certification program. “I enjoyed observing the diversity our state has to offer. Networking and meeting people of differing career paths that care about the natural world was a positive experience for me.”
Kim says the outdoor workshops really stood out to her, especially the ones that focused on water. She particularly enjoyed coastal events such as CATCH (Caring for Aquatic through Conservation Habits) a program of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Sound Exploration and Sea Turtle Exploration offered by the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “All the Project WILD activities (a program of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission) were awesome, and I incorporated many of the activities into my classroom activities.”
When asked if the program changed her approach to teaching, Kim says it gave her the opportunity to expand her knowledge and to share her excitement and knowledge with her students and her community. “It allowed me to move my instruction outdoors. My students engaged in real time data collection and interpretation.”
Kim says completing the program helped her realize the importance of sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge about the environment with her community. “The program really did not change my thinking on environmental issues but gave me tools to share environmental issues with others. I appreciate the resources and contacts I made with the supportive staff of the environmental education program, the staff at NCMNS (NC Museum of Natural Sciences) the available online resources, and NC Wildlife Resources Commission and their staff. It is a true gift to have all these resources available to the public. I learned that the opportunities to share are always available even in simple activities and stories.”
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