Jennie has been a teacher for 12 years and next month she will be taking a position as an environmental specialist with the NC Department of Environmental Quality. “I love to learn, and I am always trying to learn something new. I am passionate about natural history, and I love to hike and identify every plant along the way. I also love to travel, I have lived in Puerto Rico and recently traveled to Canada, Belize and Rome, Italy.”
Jennie says her favorite part of earning her certification is attending the Environmental Educators of North Carolina’s conference. When asked what certification experience stood out for her, she says it was a trip with her students. “Taking my students on hiking trips to the Eno River and having them dip net in our retention pond at the school for macroinvertebrates. I loved seeing them experience those things for the first time.”
For her community partnership project, Jennie worked with 5th grade students at Excelsior Classical Academy to write a Keep NC Beautiful Window of Opportunity Grant for a pollinator garden. The students were involved with all aspects of the project. “This project helped 5th graders learn more about pollinators and their needs and it also got them out of their comfort zone. They did research, planned engaging lessons, and presented those lessons to students of varying ages. Not only did students share this commitment and passion among their peers, but they also shared it with other grade levels and other adults. It carries on even today as I chat with them in the hallways about the work we did for this grant and how we can do other things to inspire our school community to value and care for our environment.” Jennie says the lesson about pollinators reached around 400 students from ages five to 10 years old.
Jennie says the program changed her approach to teaching. “Students gain more by getting their hands on what they are learning, and it helps them build better connections to what they are studying. I also learned that it is ok to just let kids sit still in nature. Even high schoolers.”