EENC News

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  • Mon, February 15, 2021 1:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s exciting to hear teachers and childcare providers will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning February 24! However, we know it’s still probably going to be a while until field trips, summer camps, and in-person EE programming outside the classroom are running at pre-pandemic capacities.

    Over the next year, EENC will be working to help collect, create, and distribute best-practices guides, resource lists, and professional development opportunities that respond to emerging needs in EE.

    To help you develop your spring and summer 2021 plans, we wanted to share some resources created and posted publicly by other amazing organizations.

    Virtual Learning

    In fall 2020, our EE and COVID Advisory Council concluded that online programming is probably here to stay. As you build your virtual portfolio, here are some resources to help you design better learning experiences:

    In-Person Programming

    Whether you’re thinking about camp, field trips, individual registration programs, or public events, there are a lot of resources being shared on how to do in-person programming safely. Be sure to look beyond “programs like mine” because there are a lot of potentially transferable recommendations!

    As many of us know, social distancing, mask wearing, and proper handwashing are all key in preventing coronavirus transmission.  If you teach indoors or work inside a shared office, you should also be paying attention to air flow and ventilation.

    Additional Resources

    Looking for support on other topics?  Check out these other resource collections.

    You all have been doing amazing research as we all continue to navigate the evolving situations.  Do you have another resource you’d like to share?  You can post it in EENC’s Facebook Group or email it to Lauren Pyle.


  • Mon, January 18, 2021 1:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you active on social media and have an amazing EE-related feed? Or are you plugged in to state-level environmental education news or on tons of EE organizations' mailing lists?  If you regularly come across news, features, videos, images, and resources that you think other people in North Carolina's EE community should be aware of, EENC could use your help as a content curator volunteer for our social media communications! 

    Ideally this position should take about an hour a month - just enough time to click "forward" or "share" for the things you're already scrolling through.  We're seeking 3-5 people to fill this role.  

    Contact Lauren Pyle  for more information and to get involved. 

    Learn more about EENC's current and upcoming volunteer needs here.


  • Mon, January 11, 2021 8:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What difference would $250 make for your teaching?  Could it pay for that workshop you’ve been dreaming of taking?  Materials for a professional development course you want to facilitate? Resources for an environmental education project in your community?  

    EENC recognizes that in our field, sometimes a little bit goes a long way in making a difference for the teachers, non-formal educators, government employees, students and volunteers we work with.  EENC is pleased to announce the third year of our mini-grant program.  The goal of this grant is to provide support to promote excellence in environmental education across North Carolina.

    EENC will award $2500 in mini-grants in 2021.  Accepted proposals can range from $50 to $250.  Each member can submit one proposal per year, either on their own behalf or on behalf of an organization or school.  Funding will be distributed on a reimbursement basis to awardees after their projects are completed.

    Grant Timeline:

    • January 11: RFP Opens 

    • February 28: Application Deadline

    • April 1: All applicants notified of status via email

    • April 10-December 1: Eligible project dates

    • December 14: Final deadline for project reports

    Eligibility Criteria:

    • Who may apply: Professional, Student, Senior, New to EE, Life, and all Organizational members of EENC.  Honorary members are not eligible.  

    • What you can apply for: Anything that would promote excellence for environmental education in NC, including but not limited to: professional development course fees, substitute teacher fees to allow professional development attendance, student field trip/virtual program fees, educational books or materials for facility/classroom/workshop, garden resources, etc.

    • Location: Projects must occur in NC and recipient must live in NC

    • Project time frame: Proposed projects must start on/after April 10, 2021 and be completed by December 1, 2021.

    To Apply:

    Members: Log in to your account in the top right corner of this page then apply online by 11:59 pm, February 28, 2021.  Not a member?  Join online and start your application today!  Questions?  Contact Lauren Pyle.


  • Fri, January 01, 2021 8:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    EENC is thrilled to announce that after more than a year of work, today we're launching new member levels and benefits to better support our community!

    You can read all the details here, but here are a few highlights.

    For Individuals:

    We added a new member level for professionals who are  new to the field of environmental education.  Whether you're just out of college or transitioning careers, this is a discounted opportunity to get involved for your first three years in the profession.

    Did you know EENC has over 20 hours of webinar recordings that qualify for Criteria III/continuing education credit for the NC Environmental Educator Certificate?  Members have access to them all on demand!

    Plus, EENC members get discounts on every event EENC charges a fee for - including Guidelines for Excellence workshops,  the annual conference, and other professional development.  With this, membership can quickly pay for itself!

    For Organizations:

    We now have tiered membership levels that provide Professional level benefits for anywhere between 3 and 100 team members.  You can use your membership to support your staff, interns, volunteers, board members, or even students.  Want to level up?  You can increase your membership at any time!  Contact the Membership Chair for additional details.

    We've added a completely new suite of benefits that provide support at an organizational or programmatic level including:

    • Invitation to exclusive annual EENC Organizational Leader Meeting
    • Opportunity to request letters of support from EENC on grant projects and other bids/proposals.
    • Site preference for EENC-hosted events in your area
    • Opportunities for shared marketing and exhibiting at EENC's annual conference


    Ready to join today?  Click here to become a member of our professional community.

    * Maximum individuals covered.  Have a bigger team? Move up to the next level. You can always opt in for a higher level of membership to access additional organizational benefits.

  • Fri, December 18, 2020 10:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Since the pandemic was announced in March, EENC's response to support the field of environmental education (EE) was pretty immediate - responding to the new "right now" as it develops.  In August, we began to feel it was critical to start having some longer term/bigger visioning strategies to ensure EE survives and thrives as the world continues to change.  EENC, along with the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, launched an Advisory Council to review the reality of COVID's impacts on environmental education as a whole, envision what the future of environmental education should look like, and then help identify strategies for how to make that vision happen.

    We convened 30 thought leaders from across the state representing a wide range of backgrounds - from school and formal education partners, to higher education faculty, to nonformal education leaders in programs large and small.  This group met five times over the fall.  First, we reflected on our own experiences and reports coming out at the national level about the impacts of COVID-19 on our field. 

    From there, the Advisory Council identified the needs we think are here to stay:

    • Stronger partnerships between formal educators, nonformal environmental education programs, and community programs.
    • Shared communications and storytelling, so that we're not all trying to make for the case for why EE is important independently
    • Continued virtual programming/engagement, whether its to provide pre- and post-visit support, or as an opportunity to engage learners outside the usual driving distance, or even just so people can continue learning on their own schedules.
    • Rethinking the role of an Environmental Educator.  "Other Duties As Assigned" doesn't quite capture all the responsibilities, skills, and expectations environmental educators are going to need to succeed.  
    • General EE Capacity Building.  Let's face it, there need to be more, higher-paying EE positions, more people providing environmental education, and more money to support equitable participation in EE.

    Considering these needs, we developed a comprehensive list of action strategies.  These action items are being distributed to partners across the state, so that we can all work to the best of our capacity to help elevate the field.  You will see calls to action to participate in these initiatives from EENC, the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and other partners over the next year, so that environmental education in North Carolina has a thriving future.

    If you have any other questions about this, please contact EENC Executive Director Lauren Pyle.

  • Tue, December 15, 2020 1:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Wow what a year!  When EENC announced our mini-grant winners back in April, none of us had any idea of what the year ahead would look like.  We are so thrilled that all our winners were able to continue with their projects, even if some of the details needed to change.  Eight of our awardees have completed their projects, and our remaining two are making amazing progress and will wrap up in 2021.  

    Want to see your project on this list next year?  EENC’s next round of mini-grants will be announced in winter 2021, so keep your eyes on the EENC newsletter for full details.

    Sandra Dixon, Pioneer Springs Community School, Worms at Work

    “My Worms at Work project was developed from an interest sparked during an EENC conference I attended on vermicomposting. I began the project with the students performing an experiment with food waste at their homes. Once it was determined the worms could help with our food waste problem, students were given research materials about vermicomposting and given the budget and the task of designing one for their building at school. Students planned out what materials were needed and I shopped and constructed according to their plans.  This will be an on-going project where we experiment with bedding types, temperature, light and food waste choice. The worm bins will be available for families to take home and care for during our remote learning phase and will then be a permanent part of our school once we return to campus.”

    Jenna Hartley, NC State University, Picking up more than just litter

    “The funds from this mini-grant went to supplies for teachers to conduct the citizen science clean-ups in their communities. They will be used by teachers in Durham and Onslow County to enable their students’ participation. The plans were initially for teachers on this mini-grant to collaborate with North Carolina State Parks and organize for their waterway clean-ups to take place on field trips to State Parks near their schools. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding school field trips, these supplies will be used more creatively in 2021 - potentially on local school grounds, at nearby waterways, or in students’ and families’ local neighborhoods. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to empower young people as environmental change agents in their communities.”


    Tatiana Height, UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies, Two-Part Project

    Cottage Gardens Resource Center Summer Program

    Cottage Gardens The original goal of the project was to implement a culturally relevant environmental education program for urban racial minority youth. I wanted to offer an in-person experience but due to COVID-19 I had to pivot and offer a fully remote program, free of charge to participants. Students met three times a week on Zoom to learn about water resources and environmental justice. Each week parents would come to the Cottage Gardens Resource Center to pick up activity kits which were purchased with support of the EENC mini grant. The activity kits contained everything that was needed for students to follow along from home.”

    Environmental Justice Workshop for American Conservation Experience AmeriCorps Members

    “Partners for Environmental Justice (PEJ) partnered with other organizations such as the American Conservation Experience (ACE), the City of Raleigh Parks Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, the Conservation Fund, Step Up Ministry, and the Water Resources Research Institute to offer a six week green workforce training program for 18-30 year olds. As a part of the program, PEJ developed and implemented a one day environmental justice workshop for the participants. The EENC mini-grant dollars were used to purchase supplies for a get to know you ball activity and two simulations that illustrate environmental justice problems.” 


    Marisa Sedlak, Town of Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation, Naturalist Packs

    “The Naturalist Packs on Beech Mountain are providing families the opportunity for self-led environmental education activities. The two packs consist of: a fish net, bug nets, a bird ID book, a “go find it” scavenger hunt game, an animal track guide, a clipboard and pen, binoculars, a bug jar, and a laminated sheet of paper that offers activities for the materials provided. The hope of these Naturalist Packs is that they strengthen participating families’ connection with nature.”


    Trent Stanforth, Johnston Community College, Nature PlaySpace Play Day Materials

    “This year, Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center submitted a grant proposal to EENC to seek funding for play materials that would be utilized in its newest exhibit space: the Nature Play Area.  This interactive exhibit is open to all ages, but tailored for younger audiences (2-5 year olds).  Areas of interest within this exhibit include: sandbox, crawl-through tunnel, a Little Free Library, and a slide.  With the grant, Howell Woods was able to extend the use of this exhibit to offer Nature Play Days, free of charge, to the public.  Materials included in this grant were: sand shovels, tubs to hold bubble mixture, animal eye masks, washable paints, sand buckets, and more.  These play materials created a sense of play and exploration for visitors, while also introducing the public to Howell Woods itself.”


    Willard Watson, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Environmental Art Packs

    “The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum created "summer backpack art camps" with 5 Nature focused lessons for ages 5-8 and 5 nature focused lessons for ages 9-16. The summer backpack camps allowed students to learn about their local biosphere and pick up some cool art techniques along the way. We reached over 200 people because many families purchased one kit for multiple children. We included surveys in the backpacks none have been returned. We have received anecdotes from families about the quality of the backpacks. The most exciting part of the project is that through the EENC funds we have been able to subsidize backpack camps and offer them at $5 for EBT card holding families.”


    Wendy Wilson, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Nature Learning Library

    “The Nature Learning Library project has provided a selection of nature, ecology, and plant-themed picture books appropriate to K-5th grade students for the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ Children’s Garden.  A selection of 28 books were purchased, ranging in subjects from trees, seeds, roots, stems, and leaves to forest ecosystems, nocturnal animals, birds, and biographic accounts of two famous female botanists, some in Spanish.  The learning library is ready for placement in the garden.  However, garden construction has been delayed due to the pandemic.  Upon installation, a “green roof” planting will be added.  When the library is placed in the finished Children’s Garden, we anticipate a high volume of family visitors taking advantage of the new resource.”


    Mir Youngquist-Thurow, Agape Center for Environmental Education, ACE at Your Place

    “The mini-grant funds helped to defray the cost of procuring supplies and equipment to enable ACE at Your Place and Guided Environmental Excursions to provide hands-on opportunities while respecting social distancing and safety protocols for the COVID-19 virus.  Participating teachers have reported that their students have benefited by improving their knowledge and appreciation of the natural world through hands-on experiences.  The supplies provided by the mini-grant provide individual kits for each student for various lessons. Students engage in hands-on activities with their kids and instruction from ACE Education educators, after which, the kids are sanitized before reuse.”




  • Thu, November 12, 2020 7:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over the last couple of years, EENC has been digging deeply into better understanding the needs of our community and what people are looking for when they become a member of EENC.  In 2019, we partnered with researchers from NC State University on a membership survey.  In 2020, a team went further, participating in a seven month membership boot camp led by a specialty consultant, along with our partners in the Southeastern EE Alliance.

    EENC's Membership Chair Elise Tellez, President Amy Renfranz, and Executive Director Lauren Pyle met regularly from January to July for coaching with the consultant and reflection/analysis assignments.  This team reviewed everything from historic trends in EENC's membership records, to the needs and return on investment we're offering our members, to trends impacting our field, to a detailed mapping project of how the benefits we provide are meeting our members needs.  The final product: a proposal to completely revise EENC's member levels and benefits to better support our community!

    We shared an overview at the annual membership meeting during the conference, and are actively working to get everything ready to implement everything January 1.  Here are a few things you can look forward to:

    • More clearly defined benefits for you, including: discounts on EENC events, conferences, workshops, and logo items at events, access to exclusive online resources such as webinar and training recordings, exclusive opportunities for financial support like mini-grants and eligibility for fiscal sponsorship, and the option to opt in for a discounted Green Teacher subscription.
    • A new discounted membership for people in the first three years in the field of Environmental Education - whether you're just out of college or making a career change later on.
    • A new tiered structure for organizational memberships.  This will make it easier to provide more of your staff with individual benefits - plus get access to some new benefits to support you at the organizational level, like the opportunity to request a letter of support from EENC for grant projects or proposals and site preference for EENC-hosted workshops and networking events in your area.

    We're looking forward to sharing all the details with you in January!  We are so grateful for everyone who has provided feedback and insight along the way.  And if there's ever anything we can do to better support you as a member, please let us know!

    over 100 educators from EENC's 2019 annual conference, sitting in an outdoor amphitheater
    Attendees at EENC's 2019 Annual Conference

    If you have questions before January launch,  please contact Lauren Pyle.

  • Tue, October 27, 2020 1:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and their state affiliates are working with Professors Bob Powell (Clemson) and Marc Stern (Virginia Tech) to disseminate a survey about what types of professional development environmental educators are receiving, how effective it is, and areas of greatest need to inform the development of more effective professional development opportunities for the field. 

    If you are an EE instructor, manager, or director, we hope you will take about 12 minutes to fill out this survey and help us learn more about the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you need most to better do your job! 

    You can find the survey at the following link:

    https://clemson.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3PkWhiBufaLQ9x3  

    The survey will remain open until November 25th. Your responses will be kept confidential. 

    Thank you so much! And we look forward to sharing the results in the future!

  • Thu, October 22, 2020 9:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Don't Waste It! is a new educator guide to waste management. The guide includes 11 lessons covering five themes: municipal solid waste, recycling, plastics, composting, and landfills. Don't Waste It! is designed for both formal and non-formal educators with lessons for pre-K to 12th graders that can easily be adapted for adult audiences. Each lesson includes a group activity, independent practice, extensions, and additional activities. 

    Developed by Chatham County Solid Waste and Recycling, Don’t Waste It! Is going to be expanding through the southeast.  The Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA) has been awarded a $100,000 environmental education grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over the next two years, we’ll be creating state-specific versions of the guide and then launching in-person and virtual training opportunities for educators to learn the curriculum.  This regional project will be led by EENC’s own Lauren Pyle and Shannon Culpepper.

    "The Don’t Waste It! project will help current and future educators across the southeast understand the systems for solid waste, recycling, and composting in their state.  We're excited to provide educators across our region with resources and lessons to share this knowledge with students, in order to inspire their local communities to get involved with composting, recycling, and other waste reduction activities," said Don’t Waste It! Project Coordinator, Lauren Pyle.  

    Don't Waste It! is approved as a criteria I workshop for the NC Environmental Education certificate, so we're looking forward to building a team of facilitators who can bring this workshop to a location new year in the next couple of years.

    EENC strives to be a leader in our state, region, and the nation - and this is just one example of how we’re putting this intention into action!  

    For more information, please contact Lauren Pyle.


  • Tue, October 06, 2020 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Researchers at the University of Florida are inviting our members to complete a survey on how environmental education professionals and researchers envision the future of environmental education.

    Link to survey: https://bit.ly/2S6eKyQ

    This study takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and your responses will help provide valuable insight into what the field of environmental education should focus on in the next twenty years.

    Participation in this study is completely voluntary and anonymous. If you have any questions about this project, please contact Lauren Watkins at lauryn014@ufl.edu or Dr. Martha Monroe at mcmonroe@ufl.edu. Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, (352) 392-0433.

    Thank you for your time. Your responses are incredibly valuable in shaping the future of the important work we do as environmental educators and researchers.

    Sincerely,

    The UF Environmental Education Lab

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Environmental Educators of North Carolina

P.O. Box 4904
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-4904

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