• Wed, September 22, 2021 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2201 conference attendees: a large group of people stands together outside looking at the camera, with smiles behind COVID masks

    Almost two weeks ago, nearly 180 environmental educators gathered together from across the southeast for EENC's 30th annual conference and the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance's regional conference.  From the moment they arrived at Lutheridge in Arden, we saw smiles (or rather smiling eyes above masks) to get together once more with their peers. 

    On Thursday, September 9, pre-conference field trips explored waterfalls,  toured pollinator hot spots, and helped with invasive species removal at a local land trust property.  On-site, educators learned how facilitate future workshops on the Don't Waste It! curriculum and learned best practices for questioning strategies and promoting discussion using BEETLES resources.

    The conference officially kicked off on Friday, September 10.  Over the next two days, attendees chose from over 30 concurrent sessions indoors and out and spent meals and breaks in deep conversation with one another.  On Friday, they learned about what we've been up to in EENC's annual meeting and we celebrated some amazing environmental educators and programs in our annual awards ceremony.  That afternoon, attendees enjoyed amazing donated beverages during the networking social. Keynote speaker Dr. Trish O'Kane capped off the day by joining us virtually to speak about her experiences with "Birding to Change the World" and conversing with the audience in a Q & A. Saturday continued with much of the same energy - with the addition of the Research Symposium.  

    During the conference, EENC also hosted our annual silent auction, raising over $3694 to support future future Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion workshops and kicked off the companion online auction, which is still going through Friday, September 24 at 7 pm!  Each SEEA state also provide a unique raffle basket, raising $874 for scholarships for future SEEA conferences.

    Overall, the conference was an amazing success.  We are grateful to the phenomenal sponsors who helped us keep the costs as low as possible for the educators who attended.  We're grateful for those who invested the time and energy in being a part of this conference.  And we're grateful for all the educators in our community that for so many reasons were not able to be there.  We look forward to seeing you all at EENC events - both virtual and in-person - in the year to come.

    2021 award winners: a man and three women, all smiling and holding award certificates, stands outside against a forested background

    2021 Award Winners

    Mouth of Mud Creek Field Trip

  • Fri, September 17, 2021 8:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We're growing again! EENC hired our first staff in January 2018 after 27 years as an all-volunteer organization.  Less than four years later, EENC is expanding our staff in order to better serve our EE community.  After a thorough review with internal and external stakeholders, EENC is thrilled to announce that Michelle Pearce has joined our team as our new Program Coordinator. 

    Michelle will coordinate professional development programming across the state, supporting our strategic priority to increase recognition of EENC as a go-to resource for environmental educatorsMichelle is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator and has a Master's of Arts in Education with a focus in Science Education. Her passion is empowering educators with tools that will help them provide equitable and inclusive learning.  She brings a weath of experience in professional development facilitation and event coordination to our team.

    Michelle is a long time member of EENC and has served on the Board of Directors as Membership Chair, Education Chair, and as the 2016 President. She is also serving in a support role at The NC Arboretum in Adult Education/Professional Development and as the state coordinator for Outdoor Wonders and Learning.

    You can contact Michelle at

    With the growth in our capacity, EENC is excited to provide more in-person and virtual events, workshops, and training for environmental educators across North Carolina over the next year.

  • Fri, September 10, 2021 1:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Every three years, the Board of Directors defines our organizational priorities through a strategic plan to help guide our work. EENC's four main focus areas for 2021-2024 are:

    • Advocacy for the field of environmental education
    • Partnerships for building capacity to advance environmental education
    • Increase recognition of EENC as a go-to resource for environmental educators
    • Build internal capacity of our organization

    Across all four of these priorities, we also identified two cross-cutting underpinnings:

    1. Prioritizing Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion 

    2. Considering a broad definition of environmental education - beyond classrooms and EE Centers

    The board and staff have developed a living action plan that guides our efforts achieve this.  Read our full strategic plan here to learn more about our plans for the next three years.

  • Wed, August 18, 2021 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We have an amazing community at EENC! Time and again, the thing we hear our members love most is the other people they can meet and connect with.  To help you build your network, we love to post stories about educators in our state. 

    Our interview today features Chimney Rock Management Director Emily Walker, a long time EENC member, supporter, and former board member.  While you might know Chimney Rock for its views, read on to learn more about their EE efforts!

    EENC: How did you get involved with Chimney Rock? 
    EW: I came to the Chimney Rock with my sister in 2005 looking for a summer job. We had our hearts set on moving to the Western NC Mountains, but I was hesitant to leave my position as a wildlife tech in Atlanta. The opportunity to interpret the incredible diversity of the park's resources with guests from around the world was reason enough to make the move. It's been a long summer - 16 years! 

    EENC: Why does Chimney Rock Management prioritize environmental education?
    EW: Chimney Rock Management's mission is to Create Elevated Experiences. We aim to do this by helping to create connections between people and the natural world. Environmental education is one of the best ways we can help foster these relationships. We prioritize our ee programs by supporting our efforts with other revenue streams in order to make it sustainable. We also try to incorporate some sort of interpretive or educational activity into any event or group function that we host.

    EENC: What projects or programs are you working on that particularly inspire you?
    EW: We created a program in 2018 where our naturalists provide programs at the school three times over the course of a school year and then the school has a culminating field trip to the Park. We had to put this on hold, but I am particularly excited to see it manifest. The pilot school is a local Title I school where many of the students may have not had the opportunity to visit before. We are also currently working on more informal interpretation opportunities to reach more visitors by having pop-up stations throughout the Park. I think this opportunity will help us to reach an audience that may not have come to the more structured programs due to commitments or interests.

    EENC: What goals do you have for your organization or programs within the EE field?
    EW: Our goal is to grow the recognition of our ee opportunities so that we can have a greater impact. We want to help create a bond between local students and the area. Our hope is that if we can help them to understand how incredible of a place they live that they'll work to protect the resource throughout their lives.

    EENC: What’s your favorite spot to be in the park this summer?
    EW: The Skyline Trail! It's quiet and gives you the feeling that you have the Park to yourself. It's an awesome trail that provides both a shady forest hike and some awesome views. 

    In addition to all this amazing EE work, Chimney Rock is a Guardian Sponsor for the upcoming conference.  EENC is so grateful for their support!!

    P.S. Want to share your story?  EENC welcomes member submissions to our news.  Log into your EENC account and find all the details on the Member Resources page.

  • Wed, August 11, 2021 1:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE) invite EENC members to apply for the upcoming NAAEE Environment 2042 Leadership Intensive Cohort (E42LI) funded through ee360. 

    The purpose of the 5-day Environment 2042 Leadership Intensive is, through transformative experiences, to create a cadre of change agents that will build a more equitable, diverse and inclusive environmental movement and just society. The goals of this program include: 

    • Developing leaders who are committed to effectively moving equity, diversity and inclusion forward in their sphere of influence.
    • Relationship and community building, especially across race and ethnicity.
    • Encouraging innovation through the exchange of ideas among people with diverse perspectives.
    • Learning about and raising awareness of equity, diversity and inclusion.
    • Strengthening the environmental movement by uplifting all voices.
    • Applying learning to action within the participants’ spheres of influence. 

    The E42LI exemplifies a diverse, inclusive culture, demonstrating how environmental organizations need to operate to be successful. The cohort includes representation across various dimensions of diversity with a strong emphasis on racial and ethnic diversity. The program includes a five-session virtual retreat from Nov 1- Nov 5, 2021. The facilitated retreat will include: racial equity training, understanding environmental and racial history, relationship and community building, skills to lead organizational change, and tools to develop action-based solutions.

    For full details and application information, click here.

  • Thu, June 17, 2021 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From 1990 through 2017, EENC was an organization led exclusively by volunteers.  In January 2018,  we took a big step to grow our capacity by hiring our first Executive Director.  Now three and a half years later, we're growing again. 

    To help provide you with more professional development options, more tools and  resources, and better support for the field of EE, we're hiring a part-time Program Coordinator.  Application review will begin July 5 and continue until the position is filled. 

    August update: this position has been filled.  We look forward to sharing the official announcement of our new teammate soon.

  • Mon, June 07, 2021 8:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Across our state, environmental education (EE) professionals are deeply interested in equity and inclusion. Currently, participation in training on this is often cost prohibitive for environmental professionals.  While there are a number of amazing multi-day deep-dive trainings, the multi-hundred-dollar cost is often unattainable for the small, underfunded organizations with limited professional development dollars or whose low-wage staff pay for their own professional development. While the quality of those deep-dive professional trainings is undeniable, there is a major need for an introductory course that provides foundational knowledge without that cost barrier, helping employees make the case for their organizations to invest in further training and inspiring individuals to continue their personal learning. 

    EENC has been working over the last year to create an ongoing, affordable training for EE professionals through a partnership between Center for Diversity and the EnvironmentEcoInclusiveYouth Outside, Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education, and Kentucky Association for Environmental Education.  

    This summer, we're launching registration for our first cohort in this 10-15 hour asynchronous online course.  For those pursuing EE certification, this course will qualify for Criteria I/continuing education credit.  

    This course is designed to provide a strong foundation in the language, concepts and principles of equity work for environmental educators and environmental professionals.  It is meant to be an introductory course and spark interest in further learning around justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). The main topics for the course include:

    • Foundations of communication for sensitive topics, including group agreements and nonviolent communication.

    • Developing a common language for discussing JEDI topics

    • Understanding historical intersections of the environmental movement with social justice topics, how those historical events might still be causing impacts today.

    • Understanding bias, stereotypes, and oppression

    • Reflecting on power and privilege that different identities afford, how that power and privilege manifests as microaggressions and how to use the power and privilege you had to develop a personal action plan.

    Registration will be $40, and EENC members receive a $10 discount. Thanks to grants and donations from amazing individual donors, we're also able to offer a sliding registration option for this course, so that cost isn't a barrier to participation. 

    Registration for our first cohort is available here.  We anticipate offering additional cohorts at least quarterly going forward.  

    Please contact Lauren Pyle with any questions.

  • Wed, May 12, 2021 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "It goes without saying that 2020 held surprises that none of us could foresee and no one would have asked for. The world shifted and environmental education — as we knew it — changed." 2020 EENC President, Amy Renfranz 

    EENC changed right along with it.  Because of new forays into virtual programming, we had a 135% increase in professional development and networking events.  EENC grew our membership, had thousands of hours of volunteer help, and hosted the most-attended conference in our history!

    Read more in our 2020 Annual Report.

  • Sat, April 24, 2021 3:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the North Carolina Affiliate , EENC is thrilled to share news from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) about upcoming events and programs that provide opportunities for our state's educators to get national recognition for their amazing work.  Here are some of their recent updates:

    NAAEE Conference:

    We are excited to announce our Call for Presentations for NAAEE’s 50th Annual International Conference and 18th Research Symposium in October. We are gathering virtually, after hearing everyone’s concerns about both safety and costs, and we are looking for compelling proposals. Learn more and submit proposals at

    CEE-Change Fellowship

    CEE-Change Fellowship Program will bring together a diverse and inspiring cadre of formal and nonformal educators and community leaders working to address today’s complex environmental and social concerns at the local, state, and national levels. Apply by May 17.  Learn More.

    30 Under 30

    NAAEE has opened the search to find 30 game-changing leaders under 30 years of age who are using environmental education to build a sustainable future for all. Apply by May 5.  Learn More.

    What Roles Does Civic Engagement Play in EE?

    NAAEE is working with Professors Bob Powell (Clemson) and Marc Stern (Virginia Tech) to disseminate a survey about the appropriateness and use of different approaches to civic engagement. The results will inform future training on these techniques and approaches. Visit this link for more information and please consider sharing this survey with your peers. 

    eeWORKS: The Impact of EE on Conservation & Environmental Quality

    How does EE lead to conservation outcomes and how does EE influence the quality of the environment? Check out our newest publication eeWORKS: The Impact of EE on Conservation & Environmental Quality here.

    Coalition for Climate Education Policy 

    NAAEE and a number of partner organizations have launched a new Coalition for Climate Education Policy (CCEP). This non-partisan network is working to advance climate change education and ensure that education and engagement are part of the toolbox of solutions to build more resilient communities, advance justice and equity, and create a climate-ready workforce. Learn more and join the coalition.

  • Thu, April 15, 2021 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    EENC is thrilled to announce that we're helping 11 educators from across our state in the third year of our mini-grant program.  With EENC's support, they will building school gardens and improving their schoolgrounds, purchasing much-needed supplies, and partnering with their communities to support black, indigenous, and people of color participating in EE.

    Congratulations to the 2021 mini-grant awardees:

    • Ranita Anderson, “Read, Question, Reflect, Imagine, Act: Using Language and Literacy to Promote Gardening and Beyond"
    • Marguerite Bishop, Nash County Public Schools, "Nashville Elementary Learning Garden- Composting Project"
    • Cindy Furey, Chapel Hill Carrboro Schools, "Green Eagles Leadership Club Daypacks"
    • Lauren Gibson, NC State University, "Providing classrooms with pesticide testing strips for an inquiry-based water quality testing activity"
    • Lauren Greene, North Carolina Botanical Garden, "From the Mountains to the Coast: Virtual Field Trip"
    • Marilyn Jesrani, Carolina Outdoor Fun, "The Environmental Benefits of Backyard Chickens"
    • Jessica Metz, New Kituwah Academy, "ᎦᏓᏛ ᏗᏫᏒᏅᎢ ᎠᎹ ᎢᏥᏂᏦᎸᎯ (Bring Water to the Garden)"
    • Sarah Pursel, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, "Bountiful Botany: Medicinal Plants of the Plateau"
    • Alayna Schmidt, WNC Nature Center, "Racially Diverse Speaker Series for Nature-based Teen Volunteer Program"
    • Shalyn Yost, Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County, "Outdoor Explorers"
    • Mir Youngquist-Thurow, Agape Center for Environmental Education, "Water Quality Testing Resupply"

    Our grant recipients will be working on projects now through December 1.  We'll share photos and stories as they finish. Stay tuned to see how these EENC members are promoting excellence in environmental education!

Environmental Educators of North Carolina

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

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