Welcome once again to the EENC Board Member Spotlight! This month, we highlight Erin Lineberger, your EENC Piedmont Section Chair. Erin is an environmental educator with Gaston Natural Resources.
Erin grew up in what she considered to be a little patch of natural paradise, on the edge of a bottomland, hardwood swamp in eastern NC. In the summer, it was humid, buggy, and dense. In the winter, it was a haven for year-long resident birds and spring peepers on warm nights. It was just 20 acres, but it connected to neighbors' forested land as well; a green ribbon of floodplain cocooning a small tributary on its way to the Neuse. Erin can remember trying to map it when she was in the second grade, like Lewis and Clark. Such exploits were encouraged by her parents.
In middle and high school, Erin's primary passion was participation in a school club called, "Envirothon." She didn't know the word "environmental education" then, but they traveled from the mountains to the coast in search of new species and ecosystems to experience. She thought she wanted to be an environmental journalist, but after a high school career full of extracurricular activities and AP classes (read: deadlines, and not enough time to meet them), Erin decided she was her best self in the woods. Her mom, who was a 9th grade Earth & Environmental Science teacher at that point, suggested environmental education. She decided to go into Natural Resources at NCSU during the spring of her senior year, and from that point on, EE was her end goal.
College included meetings with people like Renee Strnad and Kathryn Stephenson, as well as summer EE internships. Erin also sought out a backpacking trip with Montreat College and learned about their new Master's of Environmental Education program from Dottie Shuman. She began her EE certification and the field unfolded for her like a map. The more EE she did, the more she wanted. She was hooked!
Following graduation, Erin worked one season in a residential position in West Virginia and moved back to NC to start her Master's of Environmental Education at Montreat College. She also entered AmeriCorps Project Conserve as an Environmental Educator with the North Carolina Arboretum. One year and a Master's Degree later, Erin came full circle and got her first permanent position with a Soil and Water Conservation District, where part of her job is to train the next generation of Envirothon students.
When Erin moved to the Charlotte area, the word on the street was all about the lack of connection between EE people and programs in the area. EENC responded by creating a Piedmont Section, and Joy Shuck took the helm as Piedmont Section Chair. Erin knew Joy from a season at the Whitewater Center and when Joy stepped down from her position, she recommended the position to Erin. She eagerly agreed, wanting to continue what Joy had started.
Erin's primary upcoming projects include hosting a mini-conference this year followed next year by the first ever Piedmont Section conference. Erin believes both will do a lot for educators in the region, and will bring more folks into the fold.
Let's wrap up with three fun facts about Erin!
- Erin is a lover of fiction, from sci-fi fantasy to regency England; Brandon Sanderson to Jane Austen.
- She loves languages, traveling, and culture! She has a minor in Spanish and has spent time in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Honduras. She hopes to add more to the list.
- Erin's fiancé has the same name, phonetically: Aaron and Erin. When they first met, she mentally used it as a reason not to date him... He quickly changed her mind,
That's it for this month. Check back next month when we'll introduce Christine Brown, your president elect!