This morning, I found myself with tears in my eyes. Remembering a loved one is like that. Out of nowhere a cherished memory finds its way into your consciousness. Tears of fondness found their way into my eyes in memory of a beloved father. And what was it you might ask that prompted this reaction in my 42 year old self, and 4 years after his death? It was a childhood memory of Sunday mornings sitting at his feet while he read...the Mark Trail comic.
The Sunday comic strip by Mark Trail that my Dad would read to me typically highlighted a particular species or topic. The comic began in 1946, and has been teaching people about the preservation of our natural resources ever since. Various publications were also published under the Mark Trail name, including for government and nonprofit groups. Mark Trail also won many conservation awards. As with anything that has been around that long, there is some controversy over gender representation and out-dated science, but it is an amazing timeline of reaching the general public regarding conservation.
Learning the history of this historical interpreter was simply a fun detour prompted by this memory. What was most poignant to me, is the reminder that it is the off-hand, unassuming moments that often teach us so much, as children and adults alike. Relationships, passions, and a heart for sharing, all touch those around us in meaningful ways. In this time of “isolation”, “quarantine”, “social-distancing” and “phased reopening,” we find our circles smaller and, perhaps, more open to contemplation.
Most of us have had our interpretation work significantly altered in 2020. But, we ALL have a community we continue to make a meaningful impact on. Six months ago we may have been too hurried, or harried, to share these teachable moments with what is now our closest circle: hiking, but also picking up trash and carrying it out, not as an organized cleanup, but just because; exploring historical experiences of the Spanish Flu and 1918 Influenza Pandemic, not as a required school assignment, but for curiosity's sake; shadowing a sea turtle volunteer(because, well, sea turtles aren’t under a stay at home order and nesting season has begun), to learn more about turtles to share with my circle, just because I am interested and have the time; sharing a social media post about baby bats to an audience that may have been too busy to give it a look several months ago, and thus increasing awareness in a quiet, unassuming way.
We are interpreters. Our execution of that passion may have been altered, but has not been eliminated. As long as there are people on this Earth, we will be called to, and have the opportunity to, share our passions. Chin up. You are still making a mark. Your community, whatever that looks like right now, is waiting. Embrace it. Be fulfilled by it. Enjoy it.
We join you this week in mourning and frustration over the ongoing harm that people of color experience in our country, including the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and the racism experienced by Christian Cooper while he was birding in Central Park. We recognize that they represent a small and recent sample of a much larger issue, and that there cannot be inclusive environmental education in outdoor spaces until all people feel safe in their communities.
Environmental education is critical for a sustainable future. It provides time in - and a connection to - the outdoors which research has shown to improve academic performance and physical, mental, and emotional health, making it just as important for our participants as it is for the planet. EENC embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as central to our work. It will take people of all ages and backgrounds working together to achieve our vision for a sustainable future. We believe everyone regardless of race, creed, age, sexual/gender identity, income, physical/mental ability, etc. should feel welcome in EE activities in North Carolina to reap these various benefits.
Making the Case for Equity and Inclusion in EE
Helping You Learn More: Deeper Dives, Strategies, and Best Practices
Teaching With Equity and Inclusion
Inspirational People and Stories: Shining a Spotlight on Amazing Work by Phenomenal People
Building Your Network: Organizations, Business and Agencies
We rededicate ourselves to listening and working toward a more equitable, anti-racist future. Will you join us?
Thanks to our amazing donors this spring, EENC is launching a webinar series to help environmental educators continue to build skills as we all negotiate the new normal with COVID-19. Throughout the series, we hope to cover a wide range of topics. Webinars may focus on lesson plans, curricula development, technology and virtual learning, naturalist skills/knowledge, educator self-care or environmental education operations such as communications, strategic planning for your program/department, risk management, or equity and inclusion.
We're planning to start these in June and offer webinars every week for at least 16 weeks. Recognizing that not everyone has the same set schedules, we're planning a rotating day-of-the-week strategy at 1 pm. Check out the upcoming webinars here.
Webinar registration is free and open to anyone to attend, but is limited to 100 participants. A recording of the webinar will be sent to attendees afterward. It will also be posted on EENC's members-only page - so if you're an EENC member and not able to attend during the scheduled time, no need to register!
Do you have a topic you'd like to present on? Click here to learn more and submit your idea.
Webinars will qualify for Criteria III and continuing education for NC DEQ EE Certificate.
Please consider completing and sharing this survey from the Children & Nature Network by May 19.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen people around the world turn to nature for reprieve and respite from the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve also seen temporary improvements in air quality and other environmental impacts resulting from the global pause. We are interested in understanding how participants in the broad movement to connect people to nature are thinking about changes in their attitudes and behaviors, as well as societal changes, in response to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders. We are also interested in understanding how and if people anticipate their own and others’ behavior to change long-term. We feel this information could have important implications for program and policy priorities in the months ahead. The survey is open from May 12 - 19 and results will be shared broadly.
All responses will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. If comments are used to provide illustrative examples of survey respondents’ attitudes, care will be taken to ensure that any information that may identify the respondent is removed. This survey is a collaboration between the Children & Nature Network, University of Minnesota and many other organizations.
EENC is sharing this as a proud member of the Children & Nature Network and affiliate of NAAEE.
In this time of physical distancing, we've been hearing from educators across the state about the need for community. EENC has hosted a handful of community calls in response to COVID-19, but we're hearing the demand for more! As an organization with one staff, our capacity is limited. Will you help fill this need?
We are looking for help with hosting online community building. EENC can provide an online platform and help spread the word, but we need volunteers willing to take the lead to plan, facilitate and moderate live conversations. You can pick any conversation topic that matches your interests, but online community building might look like:
You don't have to be an expert to host any of these! You just have to be willing to help get others talking.
We are also looking for people to host online professional development webinars. Needs we've heard include: graphic design, how to make a good EE video, how to set up a Google Classroom/online learning platform, and NC DEQ EE Certification Criteria II ("Outdoor Environmental Education Experiences").
Want to help? Contact Lauren Pyle to get involved.
Environmental education is not cancelled! EENC is thrilled to announce that we're helping 10 educators from across our state take on EE projects to support student learning in science, art, literacy, and civic engagement.
Congratulations to the 2020 mini-grant awardees:
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!
Please Share What You’re Doing!
Are you offering virtual programming for students or educators? Doing regular live-streams? Adding new video content to your website? Make sure you’re posting it in our partner the NC Office of EE’s Resource Database with the “COVID-19 Educator Resources" tag.Tip: you can add it as a resource AND to their calendar in a single entry so you can post it in two places at once!
Looking for online professional development while at home? Thinking about creating content but don’t want to duplicate ages/topics? Looking for resources to share in your organization’s social media, newsletters, or other communications? Find the answers you are looking for in the database.
Spread The Word
We’re hearing that parents and teachers are overwhelmed by lists – and they are just taking advantage of online learning opportunities as they happen across them. If you’re using Facebook Events to promote your online learning, EENC and the NC Office of EE want to help you amplify your work so it shows up on more feeds.
Tag EENC (@EENCfriends) and the NC Office of EE (@NorthCarolinaEE) as co-hosts for your event! Once we accept your invitation to co-host, it’ll show up on our pages and to our followers. Facebook let’s you have multiple co-hosts for events, so you can also do the same thing with your partners to help spread the word locally.
Posting on other platforms? Use the hashtags #NCEarthDay50, #NCBackyardNature, and #NCEnviroEducators.
Look For Opportunities
If you’re thinking of developing content (whether for your organization or to build your portfolio during a furlough), here are some suggestions we’ve been hearing:
We’ve also heard the need for continued communication between our community to help make physical distancing feel not so distant. As we add calls and online gatherings, we’ll post them on our events page here.
During this crisis, EENC is here for you. We have seen many of you on our COVID-19 calls (and have two more scheduled here) and have really appreciated those of you who have shared your needs and concerns in the recent survey.
Some of the major needs we’ve heard so far through the calls and initial survey responses are how to stay financially viable through this crisis, both personally and as organizations, and for training on how to create digital learning opportunities. We’ve pulled together some resources to help you continue to follow your passion and stay in environmental education.
Loan Opportunities through the CARES Act:Businesses and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to apply for two different loan programs to help you keep your staff on board. For a general overview of the CARES Act, click here.
For a comparison of these loans, click here.
Paid Sick Leave/Extended Family Leave:The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides up to two weeks paid sick leave and up to 10 weeks paid family leave to care for kids out of school due to COVID-19. Employers, you can claim this as a payroll tax deduction.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits:If you are temporarily out of work or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19, North Carolina has made it easier for you to apply for unemployment. In addition, the CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week in supplemental benefits from the federal government. Learn more here.
Creating High Quality Online Learning:
Other COVID-19 Resource Collections:
Note: Even though many of these were written for non-profits, many of their tips and resources are applicable to other agencies and companies as well!
We’re going to keep listening to what you need as members – so keep telling us what you need! You all do amazing work in our state, and we want to do everything we can to help you continue to provide excellent environmental education opportunities through this crisis.
You are not alone. We're living in a rapidly changing landscape with the coronavirus outbreak. Some of you are working from home. Some of you are home and unable to work. Some of you might be at work. You might be dealing with kids home from school. You might be worried about parents, grandparents, friends, or neighbors. You might be thinking about the logistics of how this virus is going to impact your job or how it will impact your program and staff. You might be thinking how this will impact your organizations’ ability to work toward your educational mission.
Wherever you are, know you are not alone. The Environmental Educators of North Carolina, the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, and the North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers are here to support you as best we can.
Last week, we co-hosted our first call to provide people with a digital platform to connect with one another. You can view notes from that call here. There were requests to host additional conversations again in the future. The next call is scheduled for this Friday, March 27 at 1 pm.
We want to help you, but we want to make sure whatever we're doing actually meets your needs both as a person and as an environmental education professional. All responses to this survey are being collected anonymously. You can write as long or as short of a response to whichever questions you choose. As nonprofit writer Vu Le recently reminded us, it's OK to be not OK. Please tell us what's on your mind so we can try to help. Complete the online survey here.
Resources to help nonprofits/organizations
Responding to the Coronavirus: Resources to Help nonprofits
Coronavirus Workplace Tips for Emlpoyees
Lessening the Risk of Coronavirus at Nonprofits
COVID-19 What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know
Resources for home activities for kids, online PD for educators
The Office of EE has an online resource collection (https://www.eenorthcarolina.org/educator-resources). They've added a tag for COVID-19 to help identify great resources for parents to use at home and to mark online professional development resources for you to build your knowledge while social distancing. Full directions on this are included below.
A collection of Home-Based & Distance Environmental Education from NAAEE
Virtual Field Trip list
Virtual National Park Tours
Free Ivy League online college courses
Resources to help hourly workers: Last week, Governor Cooper issued an executive order that makes unemployment benefits more accessible to those who have lost wages or reduced hours due to COVID-19. Learn more here.
While we don't know what the outcome of this situation will be, we urge you to stay positive. Just as an ecosystem can recover from a natural disaster, we can persevere. We’re stronger together. Share the good news in your world. Celebrate the everyday heroes you are seeing. Go outside on a spring flower search in your yard (I found 15 different types yesterday!). If you need support - whether it's faces to talk to online, resources, or other support, please don't hesitate to ask. Your networks are here to help.
If you work in environmental education, you know EE is just as important for your participants as it is for the planet. You probably also know that if EE is not accessible to everyone, the potential impact is limited. You may even be the person in your workplace making the case for equity in EE. We’re right there with you.
In November 2019, EENC board members participated in an Equity Engagement Strategy Planning session with the Center for Diversity and the Environment. From that 3-day meeting, we’ve developed a multi-year plan that complements our strategic plan to make our organization and the field of environmental education more equitable and inclusive.
EENC is focusing the first year of our plan on information gathering and internal examination with a 2020 action team. The plan is to
If you are passionate about addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion within environmental education, we want to hear from you! If you have a recommendation for someone outside our field to engage, please share that connection. Or if you can’t commit to this team, but you have recommendations or feedback you want to share about any of these projects, please let us know.
Contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org or 984-999-1702 to help.
P.O. Box 4904Chapel Hill, NC 27515-4904
Website questions? Click here to contact the Communications Chair.