Thursday, June 13, 2024

Educator Spotlight: Christine Ricci

Christine Ricci, an Education Specialist for the NC Waterworks Operators Association, recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification. Christine helps facilitate training for the state’s water professionals and in her personal time, she loves to read, explore state parks and visit her friends and family. 

Christine says her favorite part of earning her certification was the variety of the training offered. “I learned from a variety of professionals in a variety of ways and about many different things. This meant I never got bored, and I was able to pass much of it on to students and colleagues.” 

When asked about an experience in the program that stood out to her, Christine said it was the Project Restore Educator Trek Waterdog Warriors offered by the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. This trek allowed educators to search for the federally threatened salamander, the Neuse River waterdog while learning from biologists and participating in field monitoring and restoration of the species. 

For her community partnership project, Christine worked with another educator from Gaston College, Marguerite Bishop, to design and install a learning garden with an outdoor classroom at Nashville Elementary School. “This garden is still in use, and I still help with it. Students still come up to me and say, "I remember taught me about..." I love that this project helped students get outside and foster a love of the outdoors. It also means a great deal that the school makes a point of using the garden.”

Before: The area before Christine's project

After: The garden and outdoor classroom

Christine says participating in the program changed her approach to teaching. “The program has helped me expand my environmental education curriculum and has given me other ways to approach how I teach specifically when it comes to issues around social justice.” 

She says the program also changed the way she views environmental issues. “The biggest change is understanding how environmental issues impact those in lower socioeconomic classes. I always knew it impacted them more but how much more, I wasn’t aware of.”

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