The 2020 EENC Nomination Committee is now accepting applications for the 2021 Board of Directors! The Committee is seeking dedicated board members who want to make a positive impact in North Carolina's community of environmental educators and participate in a dynamic and committed team.
If interested, please fill out the application by Tuesday, September 1.
If you have any questions about specific positions, serving on the board in general, OR need to submit responses in an alternative format, please contact Christine Wittmeier, EENC Past-President firstname.lastname@example.org
Know someone who has skills that will compliment our organization's mission? Please send their contact information to Christine.
"Teachers sometimes express reluctance to lead field excursions because they feel they lack sufficient knowledge or expertise to make them meaningful. Yet one does not have to be an expert on mushrooms, trees, or geology to lead a successful field trip. In fact, some of the most memorable learning occurs when teachers and students discover answers together. Field guides, phone apps, flash cards, and other resources can help with identification, but one of the most valuable skills we can ever help our students develop is the art of asking questions. Good questions lead to discovery, and an important component of any field excursion is to ask students to generate their own questions based on what they see."
Learn more about planning an outing using the seven C’s — Communication, Context, Concepts, Connections, Community, Closure, and Celebration in this article published in Green Teacher Magazine from Brad Daniel.
Last week, the North Carolina Governor’s office announced that schools will be able to open under Plan B, which includes both moderate social distancing for in-person teaching and virtual education. With this, field trips and traveling outreach programs will no longer be major operations for our community this fall. We know this means major shifts in revenue and staffing for North Carolina’s environmental education community.
We know that your organization will need to reflect on its own capacity to keep your participants and staff safe. Many of you may have already made the decision to provide exclusively virtual or remote programming for this purpose.
If you are considering exploring new types of in-person programs for youth this fall (especially outdoor programs), you may have questions about what types of programs you might offer that would fall under child care licensing in North Carolina.
Your organization can operate under your current status, without any additional licensing if:
You are providing programming for school-aged children, that parents pay for on their own. This could look like:
Your staff serving as supervision/tech support during virtual schooling days and then taking kids outdoors on breaks during school hours.
You do all your own programming outside of school hours, such as afterschool programs, school break camps, or specialty programs.
You are providing preschool programming for less than 4 hours per day.
You provide full day recreational programming, for 4 months or less.
You may need to become a licensed child care center if:
You want to run drop-off educational programs for kids younger than age 5, longer than 4 hours per day for more than 4 months.
You want to offer programs for school age children, but you want to become eligible for federal subsidy reimbursement to cover tuition for low-income families.
Want to learn more about becoming licensed or if your particular program idea needs to be licensed? Contact your county’s Lead Child Care Consultant to learn more.
For safety guidelines related to COVID-19, please review the materials provided by the NC DHHS and CDC. Also,EENC recently released eeGuidance for Reopening Schools,which provides strategies for schools and districts to utilize environmental and outdoor education to safely and equitably support student learning.
Please feel free to reach out to your statewide networks with questions, comments, and concerns. We’re here to help you as best we can. We will continue to communicate with you as other options and recommendations come to the forefront.
Environmental Educators of North CarolinaNorth Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers
The Environmental Educators of North Carolina write this open letter to assert that the need for environmental and outdoor learning has never been greater. We urge you to bring environmental education to the forefront to support the resilience of North Carolina’s school systems in addressing the impacts of COVID-19.
Environmental education is a process that helps people learn more about the natural systems we all depend on, and understand what we must do to interact responsibly with our environment and safeguard natural resources for future generations. Across all age groups, greater access to the outdoors is associated with reduced stress and greater mental health and well-being. As we look to improve the health and well-being of our children, we need to advocate for guidance that brings safe access to outdoor learning to all communities.
School closures and the sudden shift to online learning has brought to light great inequities in education. Schools with more resources have been able to keep students on track, while those serving families who may lack computer or internet access have stumbled. Behavioral experts suggest that the COVID-19 disruptions will cause at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) per student. As we look to address these discrepancies through educational investments and policies, the potential for outdoor and environmental learning must be part of the conversation. The outdoors is a resource for learning, engagement and health, and it should be available to all. In addition, there is growing research indicating coronavirus transmission is reduced in outdoor environments.
During the present coronavirus emergency, it has become clear that it is paramount for our society to address and proactively deal with the global challenges we are confronting. COVID-19 is a serious threat to human well-being, but it is related to other environmental challenges (climate change, biodiversity) and we must understand and address them as well.
Community-based environmental and outdoor education programs can and should be essential partners in supporting schools and families as we head into the upcoming school year.
Environmental and outdoor learning will not only enable us to create healthier, more civically engaged and sustainable communities, it can help solve some of the many issues that school districts across the state are facing including lack of space required for physical distancing, supporting gaps in instruction, and supporting students mental and physical health.
We present the attached guidance for school districts across the state to consider when creating plans for re-opening. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and school districts across the state to deploy the resources and support of environmental and outdoor learning providers throughout the state to support the resiliency of school districts. We are available upon request for consultation and solution-driven planning. The guidance (available at www.eenc.org/eeGuidance or https://eenc.org/resources/Documents/eeGuidance%20For%20Reopening%20Schools,%20EENC.pdf) is only a start to what we might accomplish by co-creating solutions together.
The COVID-19 virus pandemic has changed the landscape for almost every decision that we make going forward. We believe that we cannot afford to return to the same “normal” from before this pandemic and urge you to promote and support EE and environmental literacy among all North Carolinians.
Lauren Pyle, Executive Director
Amy Renfranz, Board President
Since March 2020, EENC has been regularly convening a group of volunteers for a diversity, equity, and inclusion action team. This dedicated group of members, partners, and external stakeholders has helped us reflect on things like what dimensions of diversity EENC should report on as an organization with a commitment to this work and how to make our communications and events more inclusive.
One of the big projects they have helped us with is updating our justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion statement. After a month of careful deliberation, this team created a draft statement that was submitted to the board. The board reviewed the document, suggested edits and asked the action team clarifying questions. After a final review by the action team and approval by the board, EENC is proud to share our new statement.
You can find it posted on the "About EENC" page of our website. But it's more than just a public statement. This is part of our policy manual that guides the board and staff in all organizational operations. We are working toward this commitment being reflected in all our events, programs, communications, and partnerships.
We acknowledge we still have a lot of work to do. We are grateful to our action team who will continue to help us on projects through the end of the year. We are grateful for our partners who are making their own commitments. And we are grateful for our members and the educators in our EE community who are joining us on this journey.
Do you know an environmental educator, EE program, or center in North Carolina that promotes excellence in environmental education? Nominate your EE heroes for an EENC award! We give several types of awards for both members and non-members, so help the great EE professionals in your life get the recognition they deserve for their great work.
Learn more about EENC's awards here, including last year's winners!
Nominate yourself or someone you know for a 2020 award here.
EENC today released eeGuidance for Reopening Schools, a new publication which offers support for schools and districts as they find ways to safely reopen their schools to students this fall. Developed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the guidance offers dozens of specific strategies for schools and districts, including using the school grounds for outdoor classroom spaces as a strategy for adhering to physical distancing guidelines, engaging community environmental and outdoor education programs as alternative spaces for learning, tapping into the expertise of environmental educators to support teaching and learning, creating healthier learning environments and supporting at-home learning.
While we are all eagerly waiting to hear if schools with open with their A, B, or C plans, it is critical that we connect formal and nonformal educators across the state to support student learning.
Learn more at eenc.org/eeGuidance
Environmental Educators of North Carolina is excited to announce that we will be hosting our 2020 EENC Conference virtually. The virtual conference will take place on our originally planned dates of September 18 and 19.
This was not a decision we took lightly. Nearly 200 educators provided feedback through the survey we sent a couple of weeks ago. The results clearly showed that many educators were uncertain if they would be able to attend the conference in-person this year for many reasons, including personal safety, travel restrictions, and funding availability.
By pivoting to a virtual conference now, we can dedicate the time needed to plan a wonderful virtual experience for you! You can expect two half-days of virtual sessions and a keynote speaker. Thanks to your suggestions, we will also include lots of opportunities to network virtually. We are also planning to hold section events within a couple weeks of the conference so educators have more opportunities to get together for some fun activities, in-person and virtually.
Registration for the new virtual event will open mid-July, so keep an eye out for additional details. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the EENC Conference Chairs, Shannon Culpepper and Trent Stanforth at email@example.com.
NAAEE is working with Professors Marc Stern (Virginia Tech) and Bob Powell (Clemson) to disseminate a survey about the needs of the field regarding the evaluation of environmental education (EE) programming. The goals are to better understand current practices, hopes, and challenges to inform the development of tools and services for the field and to promote culturally responsive evaluation as we work to build a new evaluation portal.
If you are an EE instructor, manager, or director, we hope you will take about 15 minutes to fill out the survey and help us learn more about your thoughts on evaluation.
You can find the survey at the following link:
The survey will remain open until June 30, and your responses will be kept confidential.
Thank you so much! And we look forward to sharing the results in the future.
Encuesta: Estimar las condiciones y las necesidades de la evaluación en EA
NAAEE, en conjunto con Profesor Marc Stern (Virginia Tech) y Profesor Bob Powell (Universidad Clemson), busca las perspectivas de una gran variedad de profesionales sobre las necesidades con respeto a la evaluación de los programas de educación ambiental (EA). Las metas de esta encuesta son entender mejor las prácticas, las esperanzas, y los retos actuales para informar el desarrollo de servicios para la profesión y para promover la evaluación culturalmente receptiva.
Si es un instructor, coordinador, o director de EA, queremos su opinión. Esta encuesta en el vínculo le llevará 15 minutos:
Sus respuestas son confidenciales. La encuesta estará disponible hasta la 30 de junio.
Gracias! Compartiremos los resultados en el futuro.
NAAEE Executive Director
Note: EENC is our state's affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).
As a Rethink Outside partner, EENC is part of a growing effort to unify and amplify a shared narrative around time spent in nature, reshaping how people think about and prioritize the outdoors and its benefits. Coordinated by Blue Sky Funders Forum, and launched in October 2019, this shared narrative aims to tell a unifying story and engage new partners to bring the promise of healthy communities to all.
In order to provide guidance and support to organizations seeking to elevate connections to the outdoors during COVID-19, Blue Sky has released a new Rethink Outside messaging brief. This messaging brief draws on best practices in frame-based messaging, recent studies of narrative change, and guidance from the NAACP on how to communicate effectively and respectfully during a time of crisis. It offers a roadmap for connecting the tested values and core message of the Rethink Outside shared narrative with the ever-changing public conversation. It is designed to serve as a bridge between the extraordinary focus at this moment on public health and public economies, and the conversations that must come next around how to build safer, healthier communities for all.
This messaging is designed for you to use in communications with stakeholders regarding how your organization is evolving during COVID-19. It is intended to be a tool for your existing communications efforts, if you have need and capacity. It is not a requirement and there is no expectation it be used if it is not helpful for your organization.
You can download the messaging brief here. Below are additional resources and opportunities to engage with Rethink Outside.
Pledge your participation in Rethink Outside
Share examples of ways you have used the shared narrative in your work in this open Google Sheet, and by using #RethinkOutside on social media
Access stories and additional resources
Participate in storytelling workshops (registration will open in July)
You can learn more at RethinkOutside.org. Please contact the Blue Sky team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
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