EENC and 2022 Board President Elise Tellez are pleased to announce the release of our 2022 Annual Report, which documents the impact and ongoing efforts of EENC toward our mission to build connections, provide professional development, and promote excellence for North Carolina's community of environmental educators.
“This past year has been an exciting year for EENC,” notes Executive Director Lauren Pyle in her letter to the membership. Key projects highlighted in the Annual Report include NC K-12 Science Standard revision advocacy work, a landscape analysis of environmental education across the southeast in collaboration with the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance, and the development of eeGuidance for Equitable Pay and Hiring in the environmental education sector.
That’s not all – 2022 also saw the development and release of a new professional development course on Universal Design for Learning in environmental education, and a corresponding presentation on universal design by EENC staff representatives at the North American Association of Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) annual conference in Tucson, Arizona in October. Board members also participated in NAAEE’s ee360 Leadership Clinic in May, where they worked alongside other Affiliates to discuss and dig into organizational structure and design for EENC. And in August, we brought members together for our own annual conference, held at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, for two days of speakers, networking, and professional development, including a keynote by Dr. Rasul Mowatt focused on the decolonization of environmental education practice.
It’s been a busy 2022, and EENC is excited to see what the new year holds. “In 2023, we will continue to champion environmental education, advocating for its integration at both policy and practice levels,” says 2022 Board President Elise Tellez in the Annual Report’s opening letter. We welcome you to stay in touch with EENC during 2023 by becoming a member, attending an event, and joining us at our annual conference.
The Let’s Grow Together campaign, EENC’s first collaborative crowdfunding effort, was a success! Between April 19th and May 19th, eight environmental education-focused organizations across the state collectively raised an incredible $8,645 to support their environmental education projects, programs, and advocacy work, exceeding the campaign’s original $8,000 goal.
We’re grateful for the partner organizations who joined EENC in this campaign: the Agape Center for Environmental Education, the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Longleaf Learning Collective, Wilkes County Soil and Water Conservation District, Wonder Connection, Woodland Discovery, and Woods Charter School. 100% of net proceeds from this campaign will directly benefit the partner organizations and their environmental education efforts, and all partner organizations who exceeded their original individual fundraising goal will also receive one free annual Core Organizational EENC Membership, valued at $110, to celebrate their accomplishment.
EENC would like to sincerely thank all of the generous donors who made the this inaugural year of the Let’s Grow Together campaign successful, including Mary Ammons, Kathryn Antman, Kirsten Bair, Keith Bamberger, Sally Barnes, Dori Barron, Tanja Bauer, Carol Brown, Sarah Burkhardt, Alley Buscemi, Jen Cannon, Liz Chavez, Kara Cockrell, Henry Cole, Laura Collins, Ann Costello, Jane Cottingham, Sasha Depew, Michael Dickson, Kristine Dohrmann, Adam Dovenitz, Amy Dowden, Mark & Renee Dowell, Tracey Dranttel, Emma Elstub, Holly Erdmann, Maggie Farance, Kristina Fischer, Tamara Goodrich, Jessica Griffiths, Kristen Gulish, Tomma Hargraves, Jesse Hart, Mark Hartman, Nyra Hill, Kimberly Houston, Kyle Johnston, Tracy Jordan, Amelia Kobravi, Katherine Kopp, Katherine Kovach, Kathy & Pete Krupp, J.L., Dalene LaPointe, Ashley & Jon Lorusso, Mary Lyons, Gay Lytton, N.M., Barbara MacKesson, John-Mark Magee, Kurtis Martin, Rachel McInerney, Kristina Miles, Amanda Miller, Jason Morris, Kay Nelson, Alenka Noronha, W. Norris, Melva Fager Okun, Christopher Paul, Jessica Pickard, Abigail Quesinberry, Erica Rapport Gringle, Stacey Richardson, Tasha Rose, Mitchell Rosen, Scarlett Santos, Rina Sarkar, Allison Saviello, Tracy Scholl, Danette Scott, Nancy Shannon, Kelsey Shaw, Tracy Shultz, Sue-Anne Solem, Nancy Spencer, Lynn Stinson, Donna Stubbs, Tami Taylor, Kyra Thurow Bartow, Katie Tompkins, Jackie Trickel, Will Ulmer, Michelle Valdes, Cindy Walker, Allison Weakley, Penny Wiard, JoAnn Yates, and many anonymous donors.
Thank you for helping us grow environmental education in North Carolina!
Missed the campaign, but still want to support EENC? You can donate anytime on our website.
EENC is thrilled to welcome Grace Baucom to our staff team. As EENC’s Communications & Relationships Manager, Grace Baucom will coordinate communication campaigns and projects designed to strengthen our statewide community of members and donors. Through her work, Grace will help strengthen communications and relationships, cultivate positive relationships for future growth, increase organizational capacity, and grow EENC’s network to increase our impact, reach, and representation across North Carolina.
Grace is a Certified North Carolina Environmental Educator and an NAI Certified Interpretive Guide passionate about fostering curious minds and sustainable communities through environmental education. She graduated from NC State University with degrees in Extension Education and Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, and minors in Environmental Education, Spanish, and Parks & Recreation. When offline, Grace enjoys exploring hiking trails and campsites across the state.
You can connect with Grace by email.
Environmental education integrates the natural world and meaningful outdoor experiences using evidence-driven, research-backed methods to develop students’ knowledge of concepts we all need to understand: how natural systems work, how to interact responsibly with our environment, and how we can protect natural resources for future generations. Environmental educators are using gardens, nature centers, creeks, and other sites across North Carolina to help learners of all ages to be healthier, happier, smarter, and better stewards of the environment.
“Environmental education is just as important for people as it is for the planet,” said Lauren Pyle, Executive Director of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina. “Most of the groups providing environmental education in our state are small organizations that dream of reaching more people. They need to grow so that all students in our state can reap the benefits.”
Learners of all ages, from infancy through adulthood, can benefit from the connection to and understanding of our environments that comes from environmental education. Implementing environmental education into every school day can build the foundation for lifelong engagement.
This spring, the Environmental Educators of North Carolina are asking you to join us in supporting our community of environmental education programs across the state. Through the Let’s Grow Together campaign, we’re working to raise funds and draw attention to some amazing organizations who are working to make North Carolina - and its environment - a better place!
Our partners for this spring initiative include The Agape Center for Environmental Education in Fuquay-Varina, the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina in Morganton, Longleaf Learning Collective in Raleigh, Wilkes County Soil and Water Conservation District in Wilkesboro, Wonder Connection in Chapel Hill, Woodland Discovery in Cornelius, and Woods Charter School in Chapel Hill.
Learn more and support these organizations and their environmental education work at https://www.mightycause.com/team/GrowTogether, or find your local environmental education center and plan a visit, attend a program, or make a gift to help grow their work.
Contact Lauren Pyle with any additional questions.
EENC is encouraging school and district administrators and formal educators who work in the PreK-12 setting, as well as environmental education providers, to participate in a survey as part of a regional landscape analysis conducted by the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA).
This analysis is designed to gain an enhanced understanding of environmental education providers and schools in the southeastern U.S. that are working towards similar goals. It will identify gaps and barriers to access that prevent successful implementation, and provide recommendations and next steps for increasing environmental literacy efforts in the southeast and accelerating the impact of environmental education in PreK-12 schools.
Through surveys, the analysis will gather data from PreK-12 schools and environmental education providers in the eight SEEA states. In fall of 2023, the data collected will be shared in a comprehensive analysis of environmental education offerings in the region, along with the gaps and barriers that exist in both formal and non-formal settings for students of all ages in these areas. These findings will also help provide opportunities for schools to partner with service providers to advance SEEA’s collective efforts toward environmental literacy.
To date, SEEA has surveyed over 500 schools and 600 environmental education providers. Based on findings from the analysis, several recommendations were identified for North Carolina environmental education providers, some of which include increasing the diversity of environmental education staff and leadership to better reflect the demographics of the state, addressing inequities in pay and benefits for environmental education, providing professional learning and resources to classroom teachers, and addressing gaps in services found across the state.
“This analysis will shine a light on environmental education, not just in our state but in the entire southeast region, and serve as a blueprint for future strategic planning,” said Ashley Hoffman, Executive Director of SEEA. “We strongly encourage members of our education community to take some time to complete this survey. By doing so, they are providing us with the information to shape the future of environmental education in the southeast.”
Educators and administrators can take the survey by visiting southeastee.org/survey.
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. To help with that, each year EENC awards mini-grants of up to $250 to support projects that promote excellence in environmental education.
We are proud to announce this year's winners.
Check back in December to learn more about what they accomplished!
This spring, EENC plans to coordinate a crowdfunding campaign to benefit environmental education programs across North Carolina. In short, we want to help you raise money for your environmental education center, classroom, or program! EENC plans to use Earth Day 2023 as an opportunity to raise support and increase awareness of the amazing environmental education being done in our state.
Requirements for Participating Partners
Participating partners must be nonprofit organizations, classroom teachers, or independent environmental education providers who are working in North Carolina
Funds raised must be designated for environmental education - whether that’s staff time to lead programs, materials, site improvements, student transportation, bringing in outside speakers, or anything else that promotes excellence in environmental education
Apply to be a part of the campaign
If accepted, set up a fundraising page as part of EENC’s team using provided templates
Actively fundraise for your program from April 19-May 19, 2023 - just before Earth Day through Endangered Species Day
Support You’ll Get As a Participating Partner
Shared promotion through EENC’s communications
Graphics and template text for you to share through your social media and email
Calendars and resources to make your campaign a success
Coaching and reminders throughout the campaign
The Final Result: Participating partners will be awarded 100% of the net proceeds from their individual campaigns!
Want to be a part of this? Apply by April 7 to be included in this campaign.
Learn more. Contact Lauren Pyle with any questions.
Part of EENC’s vision is that environmental education's substantial societal value is recognized and invested in widely by policymakers, funders, education institutions, and the general public through our advocacy work. This winter, EENC put this statement into action
In late January, a bill was introduced to the N.C. House of Representatives to add a computer science graduation requirement. In its original form, the bill effectively eliminated the state’s Earth/Environmental Science graduation requirement. This requirement was established in 1997, ensuring that all high school graduates in our state have a baseline knowledge about the earth, climate, air, water, and natural world around them. North Carolina is recognized nationally as a leader in the environmental education community, and other states are looking to our Earth/Environmental Science graduation requirement as a model. Knowing that the course could become an elective or removed from the curriculum altogether, EENC took immediate action to protect this critical course.
Initial steps by staff and Board members included developing a policy toolkit for EENC advocacy committee members, drafting phone scripts and email templates emphasizing the importance of environmental science in secondary education, and consulting with partners and organizations with similar missions. Within the first week, EENC mobilized members who lived in the district of the bill sponsors asking them to reach out to their representatives. EENC contacted partner associations and began building a grassroots campaign around this issue. With passion building, local media picked up the story and editorials were run in the News & Observer, the Greensboro News & Record, and other outlets.
Working with the NC Science Teacher Association and the North Carolina Forestry Association, bill language was edited and changed prior to being presented to the K-12 Education Committee. The voices of EENC were heard, but ongoing concerns were raised in the updated language. Instead of specifically eliminating the Earth/Environmental Science, the new language still reduced the overall number of science graduation requirements (currently three) to make space for the new computer science course.
EENC and our partners continued to engage with the bill sponsors and the State Government Committee members, the bill’s next stop. EENC prepared bullet points and compiled research to help our partners prepare for 1:1 meetings with the bill sponsors, and had frequent strategy calls with allies who were also mobilizing to protect the requirement.
We are celebrating the power of our network! Thanks to our members, partners, and community, this legislation was changed not once, but twice. After three intense weeks working behind the scenes, House Bill 8 passed the State Government Committee Meeting with an amendment from the lead bill sponsor that protects the Earth/Environmental Science Graduation Requirement. The new version of the bill reduces the total number of elective credits instead of impacting science. Our vision that environmental education is a societal value was recognized.
EENC will continue to monitor this bill as it makes its way through the Senate (follow the bill’s progress). We learned about this bill thanks to a tip from one of our contacts. Our strength is in our people, so if you learn about legislation that impacts environmental education in our state in the future, please reach out to EENC’s Policy Chair to let us know.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has just released the second draft of the K-12 Science Standards. This is most likely the environmental education community's final chance to share feedback in the standards revision process.
Just like we did with the first draft, EENC has compiled the links and information you need to know to help you prepare to complete the survey.
A few things to note in this round of feedback:
Please be sure to complete the survey by March 26 to help ensure that environmental learning is incorporated in our state's science standards at every grade level!
We are saddened to share the news of the passing of a creative, exuberant spirit who graced EENC with her enthusiasm for environmental education. Elizabeth Burke passed away in her sleep on January 30, 2023. Elizabeth was a feature of EENC in the early 2000s. She served on the EENC board as Communications Chair/Co-Chair from 2007-2012. Elizabeth received the Outstanding Newcomer Award 2006 and the Melva Fager Okun Life Achievement Award in 2012.
As one of the first individuals to become a Certified Environmental Educator in North Carolina, it is easy to understand Elizabeth’s dedication to environmental education. She founded Mud Pie Planet in the late 1990s and taught in the Triangle until she moved to Virginia in 2003. Even after moving out of North Carolina, she continued to serve on the EENC Board as Communications Chair. She led the change from periodic print newsletters to more environmentally sound digital newsletter, oversaw the development of EENC’s early web presence, and continued to be at the center of EENC communications while we hosted the NAAEE conference in 2011.
When she received the Melva Fager Okun Life Achievement award, she shared that throughout her career she never lost sight of her expressed goal, “To know nature, it’s critical to hold it in your hand. To fully understand the interdependence of organisms, there’s no substitute for seeing it in action.”
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