EENC News

  • 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

  • Fri, September 25, 2020 2:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pivot!  Like many of you, this spring EENC pivoted all our professional development and networking opportunities to a virtual format.This includes EENC’s core workshops on the Guidelines for Excellence. These workshops qualify for Criteria I and continuing education credit for the NC Environmental Educator Certificate, managed by our partners at the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.  With so many educators in our state working on their EE certificates, getting these workshops up and running was a high priority. 

    The Guidelines for Excellence is a 6-part series of materials to help environmental educators hone their practice and programs to national standards for high-quality EE programming.  Starting with some resources provided by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), EENC created the first virtual Guidelines for Excellence workshop in the nation in June of this year.  

    Focusing on the K-12 Environmental Education Guidelines, this workshop is for educators (formal, nonformal, and higher education) who want to learn more about what environmental literacy is and how to explain the value of environmental literacy, what environmental literacy should look like by the end of grades 4, 8 and 12, and how to connect these Guidelines to your EE instructional materials and NC curriculum standards.  After piloting the activities in Google Classroom in June, EENC created a course that is offered as a combination of independent work offered through the learning platform Moodle and two live group Zoom calls.

    Our 6th workshop on the K-12 EE Guidelines is planned for October, and we’re planning more .  With the successes and lessons learned so far, we’ve been able to develop a template that is being shared to other NAAEE affiliates and Guidelines trainers across the nation.  Plus, we’re in the process of developing a second online workshop option, focused on the Professional Development Guidelines, that will be ready later this year.

    EENC strives to be a leader in our state, the region, and the nation.  Creating and sharing our virtual workshops on the Guidelines is just one example of how we're putting this into practice.

    EENC is a proud affiliate of NAAEE and is thrilled to be a pilot state for the Guidelines for Excellence.


  • Tue, September 22, 2020 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Even though we are physically apart, environmental educators are stronger together. Together, we can change the world! This year’s conference focused on environmental education in schools, building resiliency in EE, connecting with nature in our communities, EE beyond parks, schools and science centers, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in EE.

    A few fun numbers:

    The conference launched Friday afternoon with our annual member meeting.  We celebrated successes over the last year including serving over 1860 participants in our summer webinar and community call series, creating the first online Guidelines for Excellence workshop in the nation, and releasing the eeGuidance for Reopening Schools. EENC also announced new member levels and benefits coming soon, our participation in a landscape analysis project through SEEA, and a new online diversity, equity, and inclusion course coming by the end of the year.  EENC was also thrilled to share that we are going to be coordinating the expansion of a new solid waste and recycling curriculum, Don’t Waste It!, throughout the southeast funded by the EPA.  

    After multiple rounds of inspiring sessions, Friday ended with a thought-provoking presentation from keynote speaker Diquan Edmonds focusing on our theme, “CommunitEE: Together for a Better World”

    Saturday opened with coffee and conversation, diving into three hot topics in virtual round tables: hands-on virtual learning, new and innovative EE program ideas, and building relationships and partnerships during COVID.  The rest of the day was dedicated to EENC’s annual research symposium and additional rounds of concurrent sessions – before ending at lunch so everyone could enjoy an afternoon outside!

    Thanks to the virtual format, all the conference sessions and keynote were recorded and are being posted online by 9/28 for all registered conference attendees. Didn’t register before and wishing you could join in? Click here to gain access and earn to up to 10 hours of criteria III/Continuing Education credit.


  • Fri, August 21, 2020 8:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council has expanded their grant opportunities to more than just schools during COVID. Nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses are now eligible to apply for GO Grants!  You have to submit a proposal that covers both the requirements of the CARES act and meets the goals of the Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund

    This opportunity is being offered to help you get kids outside and learning through the pandemic, so contact their staff with your ideas. Need a starting point to get your creativity flowing? Potential projects might include: 

    • Providing scholarship funding to defray costs for outdoor-based learning pods/forest school programs.
    • Providing outdoor learning experiences for kids and families, such as learn to hike, fish, paddle, or camp.
    • Purchasing tools and resources to make outdoor learning programs and spaces accessible to all kids and families.

    Are you a classroom teacher? Their traditional grants are a simple PDF application! No formal grant writing experience required! You can apply for: 

    • Up to $15,000 to build an on-campus learning center (outdoor classroom, greenhouse, new pollinator garden, etc.)
    • Up to $5,000 to have a field trip come to you
    • Up to $2,500 for an off-campus outdoor educational field trip

    Note: Virtual field trips/outreach experiences are not eligible for this funding.   

    Accepted projects must be complete by 12/31/2020.   Proposals are reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis but funds are limited - so get your application in today!

  • Tue, August 04, 2020 3:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 eencpastpres@gmail.com  

    Know someone who has skills that will compliment our organization's mission? Please send their contact information to Christine. 

  • Wed, July 29, 2020 8:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "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.

  • Thu, July 23, 2020 8:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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: 

      • Providing one-day, week-long, or semester-long programs in small groups. 
      • 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:

    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.

    With support, 

    Environmental Educators of North Carolina
    North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers

  • Tue, July 21, 2020 4:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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. 

    Signed:
    Lauren Pyle,  Executive Director
    Amy Renfranz, Board President

Environmental Educators of North Carolina

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

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