September is a big month for fifth grade teacher Terri McLeod. After several years at Kingwood Montessori STEM Magnet School, she's starting the new school year at Green Hope Elementary and can add the title North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator to her many educational accomplishments and adventures!
Terri also received another big honor this month--she was presented with the Environmental Educator of the Year award at the 59th Annual North Carolina Wildlife Federation Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet on September 9th.
As Terri's award nomination says, her "love for nature and sustainability, along with her incorporation of environmental education into the curriculum, has sparked a transformative and lasting impact, fostering a deep appreciation for science and the natural world among students from diverse backgrounds. Terri’s infectious enthusiasm and mantra of 'Science is everywhere' resonate throughout the school, igniting a love for learning and the environment."
That same "infectious enthusiasm" moved Terri to enroll in and complete the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program, a program administered by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. Lisa Tolley, program manager for the office recognizes Terri’s dedication to providing hands-on, outdoor learning experiences for her students. “Terri’s enthusiasm for the environment and science and her love of learning is evident in her teaching and her many accomplishments. From working with the Museum of Natural Sciences to create natural habitat and outdoor learning spaces at her school to providing resources and professional development to other teachers, Terri exemplifies what it means to be an environmental educator.
Terri says the Spring in the Mountains Educator Trek to Purchase Knob with educators from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences was an incredible experience for her. So, it was fitting that her last workshop for her certification was a Ground Level Ozone training at Purchase Knob on her birthday.
Terri notes that her favorite part of the process was the people. " I loved meeting others who are passionate about the environment and with sharing this knowledge with others. I loved seeing all the different aspects of EE that others participated, like: municipal programs, informal educators, non-profits, government agency, parks, museums, camps, outreach programs and so much more. This wide variety was eye opening and exciting."
Terri notes that the program broadened her mind and breath of understanding of the different aspects of environmental science and environmental education. "Participating the the EE Certification Program helped me in so many ways, but most importantly it helped me take my approach from advocacy to education....I always knew this in theory but needed the help to bring it into practice."