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  • Wed, January 18, 2023 7:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What difference would $250 make for your teaching?  Could it pay for that workshop you’ve been dreaming of taking?  Materials for a professional development course you want to facilitate? Resources for an environmental education project in your community?  

    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.  Open to student, professional, senior, life, new to EE, and organizational members of EENC, the goal of this grant is to provide support to promote excellence in environmental education across North Carolina.

    EENC will award $2500 in mini-grants in 2023.  Accepted proposals can range from $50 to $250.  Each member can submit one proposal per year, either on their own behalf or on behalf of an organization or school.

    Members: Log in to your account at

     to find all the details and apply online by February 28, 2023. 

    Not a member?  Join online at

    Contact Lauren Pyle with questions.

  • Wed, January 04, 2023 3:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you’ve been a part of the environmental education community in NC for a while, you’ve probably noticed that EENC has been transforming in recent years. 

    After nearly 30 years as an exclusively volunteer-led organization, in January 2018 EENC hired its first paid staff, Executive Director Lauren Pyle, to grow our capacity to better support environmental educators like you. From 2018 to 2021, EENC launched our annual mini-grant program, recruited teams to advise EENC’s work to address equity and the impacts of COVID-19 on our field, and developed a variety of online courses, workshops, and toolkits. EENC went from hosting about 10 networking and professional development events per year to over 75 annual events during this time.

    And that wasn’t enough! EENC was still hearing regular requests for more frequent and varied professional development options. In 2021, EENC added Program Coordinator Michelle Pearce to our team to meet this need. EENC now offers a robust set of programs, including multiple Criteria I workshops, deep-dive equity-focused workshops and courses, online community calls, and more - so you can get the training and support you need when and how you need it.

    In 2023, we’re planning to grow again. EENC is currently hiring a Communications and Relationships Manager to keep our community informed and engaged in EENC’s work. This new staff will craft clear and consistent communications so you can stay in the know about how EENC is working to help you, what’s trending in our field, and how you can get involved in opportunities and events. They’ll provide you with a consistently high level of customer service if you have questions or need support. And this staff will help grow our network to increase EENC’s impact, reach, and representation across North Carolina. 

    This growth will help EENC advocate for increasing EE salaries, ensure that high-quality science instruction and environmental education are available to classrooms across the state, and advance policy, practice, and equity in environmental learning. EENC looks forward to better supporting our state’s community of environmental educators with this expanding capacity.

    Find all the details about this position, including how to apply, on the Join Our Team! page.

  • Thu, December 22, 2022 8:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As we come to the end of the year, you may already be making plans for the next one.  EENC certainly is!  Whether you're designing your next program season, getting to all those lingering "to-do's" from the fall, or are prepping for your next student program (we know the "slow" season for many people isn't as quiet as it used to be!), this winter you can know that EENC is continuing to do everything we can to help you and advance environmental education in our state.

    Here are just a few things we're planning to do for you next year:

    • Strive to make employment in EE sustainable and equitable. In early 2023, EENC and its partners in the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance will release a new guide that will provide concrete tools and suggestions for designing and posting positions, serve as a tool to advocate for increasing EE salaries, and help establish industry standards for pay and hiring. Help us get it into the hands of as many educators and decision-makers as possible and provide follow-up tools and training to support organizational change.

    • Advocate for environmental education in the classroom. This year, EENC has united educators to advocate for environmental education to be included more explicitly in our state’s science standards. We'll continue to keep you in the loop throughout the process. Once those standards are released in 2023, EENC will work to ensure that all educators in our state are aware of the changes, and will provide training and resources so that all educators understand how environmental education supports high-quality science instruction. 

    • Work at the systems level to advance environmental education across North Carolina. EENC is currently working with our partners at the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the Department of Public Instruction to revise our state’s Environmental Literacy Plan. This document will outline goals and broad strategies to help K-12 students develop a working 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. It will be a tool to advance policy, practice and equity in environmental learning.

    If you like these projects and want to see us do more work like this in the future, please consider donating to EENC this year.  Whether you can give $5, $50, or more, any amount you can give helps us better serve our community. You can donate online or mail a check to: EENC, PO Box 4904, Chapel Hill, NC 27515.

  • Thu, December 15, 2022 2:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Looking back, it’s been a busy year!  As a small organization, EENC has big dreams to support our field - and to do that, we focus our efforts on advancing the goals outlined in our strategic plan.  Want to know what this looks like in action?  The following highlights are just a few projects we’ve been working on to help inspire a more just and sustainable world.


    • Advocacy around K-12 Science Standards revision, working to ensure environmental education is incorporated into our state standards. 

    • Began the process of updating NC’s Environmental Literacy Plan with our partners at the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Department of Public Instruction. Stay tuned for more information on this in 2023!

    • Coordinated the development of an “eeGuidance for Equitable Pay and Hiring” that will be released early next year through the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA).

    Partnerships for Building Capacity to Advance Environmental Education:

    • Implemented a plan to address findings from the first phase of the SEEA Landscape Analysis, which focused on nonformal providers.  This included sharing shared the results through webinars, a conference session, and a regional Funders’ Briefing, and planning  the UnConference in northeastern NC, and made additional plans for 2023 to help engage educators in eastern North Carolina to address geographic gaps.

    • Solicited responses for Phase II of the SEEA Landscape Analysis, focusing on teachers and school administrators.

    Increase Recognition of EENC as a Go-To Resource:

    • Launched a new online Universal Design for Learning in EE course and released a complimentary toolkit.  This expands our introductory equity-focused training offerings to help our state’s environmental educators provide more inclusive learning experiences for a broader group of our state’s learners.

    • Completed the 2-year Don’t Waste It! project with our partners at Chatham County Solid Waste & Recycling and the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance

    Internal Capacity:

    • Began collecting demographic information from members and event attendees upon registration (instead of only during post-program evaluations)

    • Launched Legacy Giving as an option to support EENC’s work

    • Developed a multi-year staffing plan, which outlines plans to increase our organizational capacity through shared leadership. 

    • Updated the Bylaws and our internal Policy Manual to provide clearer and stronger frameworks to grow and guide EENC’s work.


    We look forward to doing more work in each of these focus areas in the year ahead to support North Carolina’s community of environmental educators.  If you have any questions about this work, please contact Lauren Pyle.  

  • Fri, December 09, 2022 9:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Each year, EENC awards mini-grants to ranging from $50 to $250. This year’s nine winners used this funding  for school gardens, community work days, and more! They provided excellent environmental education to a combined total of over 2600 people. Learn about these amazing projects from the winners in their own words below.

    Joanna Orozco, Funding for Latina/o Communities

    “During the fall of 2022, a new Project P.E.A.C.E. community engagement partnership emerged with a Latine group known as Raíces (Roots). Joanna Orozco along with Phillip Nogueras successfully launched Música de Raíces: a bilingual culturally-responsive environmental education program. This weekly after-school program focused on three goals: connection to nature, learning Latin music, and identity/cultural healing for Asheville Latine teens. The group visited a local trail to gain inspiration from the forest, learned about instruments/music variations of Central and South America, made flutes out of local river cane, and wrote their very first original song. The song’s message was on experiencing nervousness before a cultural dance performance, but knowing that together they could confidently find identity and pride in their culture. The program also hosted local Latine guest speakers including Danza Azteca Chichimeca who taught how nature plays a central role in indigenous dances and livelihood, as well as Dr. Juan Sanchez teaching about revolutionary Chicana/o poets. The EENC mini-grant was the first grant to support this project y estamos muy agradecidos (we are very grateful).”

    Katy Menne, NC Maritime Museum at Southport, Hurricane Discovery Cart

    “The museum works diligently to fold environmental education into the cultural education of the exhibits and programs. Starting in 2018, hurricane programs were offered for school aged children and have grown to one of the most popular options. In October 2019, we opened a hurricane exhibit that discusses the formalization of weather reporting, how to prepare and recover from storms, as well as looking at the tracks of 12 storms to impact this area of North Carolina. Approaching the summer of 2022, we looked for ways to interact with the public. As we rebranded and redesigned the discovery carts, we added a hurricane topic to bring learning beyond the exhibit. Using flags and pennants we already had, we ordered additional foam sheets to create hurricane flags, cast 6 reproductions of the meritorious service coin that Weather Tower Observer Jessie Taylor received for her bravery during Hurricane Hazel, and printed numerous resources and guided questions for volunteers to interact with the public. Not only did staff and volunteers learn a few things, the public has gotten a more deliberate education on these storms. Our approach has heavily relied on safety education through preparation.” 

    Kayla Mounce McCoy, Wilkes Soil & Water Conservation District, The Incredible Journey Water Cycle Lesson

    “Today at the Edwin H McGee Center 5th Grade students participated in Wilkes Soil & Water Conservation District Conservation Fall Field Days! This year's contest theme is “Water… The Cycle of Life.” During the contest information session, 5th Grade Students learned about the water cycle by traveling through stations with a roll of the die, simulating the movement of water within the water cycle. Students visited nine stations: Clouds, Plants, Animals, Rivers, Oceans, Lakes, Ground Water, Soil, and Glaciers. At each station students collect a colored bead representing the station which students use to create a bracelet that represents their unique and incredible water cycle journey! After this lesson students were able to describe the movement of water within the water cycle and identify the states of water as it moves through the water cycle.”

    Marissa Blackburn, Cape Fear River Watch, Improving Environmental Education Videos at Cape Fear River Watch

    “World Rivers Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Saturday of September. Marissa Blackburn, Environmental Education Manager at Cape Fear River Watch, worked to spread awareness this year on World Rivers Day of the importance of rivers, including the Cape Fear River. The Cape Fear River is the largest river basin entirely contained in NC and drains over 9,000 square miles of land. About a fifth of the state's population lives in the Cape Fear River Basin. Many people use the river for drinking water, food, and recreation. The river is also an important habitat for wildlife, including the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon.

    Marissa received a mini-grant from EENC to write, produce, and star in a video she created and shared to raise awareness about rivers for World Rivers Day. She was able to purchase video equipment to make a high-quality video she was proud to share and will continue to use for future projects. So far, her video has reached approximately 300 people. Check it out!”

    Meredith Katz, Shady Brook Elementary, Subpod Composting

    “Thanks to the EENC Mini Grant the Outdoor Classroom at Shady Brook Elementary now has Subpod Composter.  This is a vermicompost bin that is submerged into the garden bed and allows worms to come and go in the bin as they please but hides and protects the food items from wildlife.   Shady Brook needs to have a better composting system because we have recently installed an instructional kitchen and need to have somewhere to put the kitchen waste. By having a Subpod students can see the direct connection to composting and food production and the worms can be used to teach science standards and sustainable living to all students in the school.  Hopefully this composting system will allow students to experience the importance of composting as a waste reduction strategy and also help the garden by not having to purchase and use packaged fertilizers and increase our yields from the produce we plant.”

    Mir Youngquist-Thurow, Agape Center for Environmental Education, Water Quality Chemical Resupply

    “The mini-grant funds help to defray the cost of replacement chemicals for the following abiotic factors: dissolved oxygen, pH, phosphates, nitrates, and alkalinity.  Participating teachers have reported that their students have benefited by improving their knowledge comprehension in the use of abiotic testing, along with the biotic index of macroinvertebrates to determine water quality. Additionally, the students took turbidity measurements and temperature readings. Through conducting the tests, students better understood the implications of each parameter.  Coming to Agape Center for Environmental Education for hands-on experiential learning has reinforced concepts taught in the classroom by “making it real.”

    Tallis Monteiro, Asheville GreenWorks, Urban Orchard Educational Workday

    “On June 29, 2022, the Asheville GreenWorks Youth Environmental Leadership Program joined Community Facilitator Daniel Suber and Hillcrest youth residents at the Hillcrest Community Orchard for a workday of maintenance, education, and care. We spent the morning learning how to mow and weed the orchard. Workshop attendees learned how to operate a tractor to haul and place mulch, and how to utilize concrete to repair fencing. Neighborhood guests spoke about their connection to, and the importance of the community and the orchard. GreenWorks staff spoke on orchard maintenance and education. At the end of the day, Daniel facilitated a mindfulness and meditation exercise to slow down and rejuvenate with the trees and one another.

    The Urban Orchard Educational Workday helped move the needle on environmental literacy within our Asheville community by equipping residents with an understanding of orchard maintenance and its importance. They will have the opportunity to carry that knowledge into their current and future communities, empowering them with an understanding to help break cycles of disinvestment in neighborhoods, parks, and communities as a whole. Collective healing for the environment and inequity comes from working together in a quest to improve the “commons.”

    Tori Duval, Friends of the WNC Nature Center, Senior and Veteran Outreach Education Program

    “Thanks to the grant supplied by EENC, the WNC Nature Center had the opportunity to visit Bella Vista Gracious Retirement Living on September 14. Our outreach educator brought a native wildlife education program to the facility at no cost to them. Residents explored biofacts like skulls, wings, and pelts, as well as met two animal ambassadors during this Fur, Feathers, and Scales program. We were able to reach 42 senior citizens who aren’t able to visit the Nature Center on their own during this hour-long hands-on experience. Our educator had a wonderful time hearing the stories of locals who used to visit the Nature Center as children. We were able to connect over a shared love of animals, nature, and the beautiful mountains we call home!”

    Renee Pagoota-Wight, Sherrills Ford Elementary, Greenhouse Ready!

    “The Sherrills Ford Elementary Pollinator Garden needed replenishment. Our garden is a certified wildlife habitat. This spring Kindergarten students prepared a new section of the garden by weeding and cleaning trash. In our study of pollinators including bees, butterflies, and birds we also set up a miniature greenhouse to propagate wildflowers. The mini-grant funded by EENC supported a beautiful new flower bed which the students named the Turtle Garden. We placed a large tortoise named "Hope" in the new flower bed. Students planted several types of purple perennials and used a concrete mold to create several concrete turtle shaped planters. Adults supervised with spreading mulch over the new flower bed. Students are collecting turtle figurines to add to the Turtle Garden of Hope.”

  • Fri, November 18, 2022 1:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After months of work and review, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has released the first draft of the revised K-12 Science Standards - and they are looking for feedback. 

    Help ensure that environmental education is a strong part of our state’s science curriculum by sharing your feedback.  Complete the 2023 Draft #1 K-12 Science Standards All Stakeholder Survey by December 18, 2022.

    Consider your breadth and depth of knowledge when getting ready to do this survey.  If you’re most familiar with a single grade, you can probably complete this survey in 15-30 minutes.  If you have a breadth of knowledge spanning K-12 science, plan to allocate more time. 

    To help you prepare, EENC has compiled a survey preview of all the draft standards.  

    Some tips:

    • During this survey, you’ll review one grade level at a time, but can review as many grades as you would like all within a single survey entry.

    • Be as specific as possible in your comments.

    • Consider planning a meeting with your team to discuss your review as a group.  But be sure that each person on your team enters their own responses to the survey!

    EENC is co-hosting a network-wide working session on December 13 to discuss these standards .

    Read the original announcement from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
  • Wed, October 26, 2022 11:45 AM | Anonymous

    This year EENC staff were able to attend and present at the NAAEE Research Symposium and Conference in Tucson, AZ. 

    The first opportunity to present came at the Research Symposium where the Universal Design for Learning in EE course was shared and attendees were sourced for ideas on how they would like to see the impacts of this course shared in a research to practice format. 

    EENC staff also go to meet the rest of the UDL in EE design team (in person!) and share a teaser session of the course during a 90 minute hands-on presentation. The room was full of 25 participants and lots of incredible conversations with educators from across the country. 

    With the recent introduction of the No Child Left Inside Act, EENC joined leaders from Colorado and Washington DC to talk about processes and lessons learned for updating statewide environmental literacy plans for a third session. EENC shared our approach, currently underway with the NC Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Department of Public Instruction.

    And to wrap up the trip, EENC and Silver’s Lining Consulting were able to share a two day Collaborative Learning Opportunity using the UDL in EE course materials with the education staff at the Cooper Center for Environmental Education. The team of ten educators, interns, volunteers, and leadership staff worked together to reflect on their teaching locations and pedagogies, finding ways to make them more inclusive and accessible for all learners. 

    EENC strives to be a leader in the field of environmental education at the state, region, and national levels. Opportunities like this when we can share our experience and expertise with leaders from across North America are just one way we put this goal into action. These efforts were made possible in part due to support from NAAEE’s ee360+ program.

  • Tue, October 25, 2022 7:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What we learned at the funders’ briefing on environmental education in the southeast

    Peer-funders and experts join Blue Sky Funders Forum, Pisces Foundation, and Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance for briefing on environmental education in the southeast

    In the United States, the southeast receives only 8% of the $116 million in philanthropic investments for environmental literacy, outdoor experiences, and connections to nature. This disparity of funding in the region, unfortunately, mirrors inequities in access to green spaces, education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. With this in mind, the Blue Sky Funders Forum, Pisces Foundation, and Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA) recently hosted a forum for peer-funders and experts to explore findings from a recent landscape analysis of environmental literacy in the southeast. With insights into the assets and barriers to furthering environmental literacy in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, the funders briefing also provided a space for attendees to connect with peer-funders to explore opportunities for collaboration.

    Jason Morris, Senior Program Officer at the Pisces Foundation, said the event was designed “to highlight some of the amazing work going on in the southeast and to share about how an increased investment and a slightly different frame of reference can strengthen and build environmental education and outdoor learning in this area.” 

    The conversation also highlighted how an investment in environmental education and outdoor learning not only leads to positive educational and conservation outcomes but also positive health and wellness, social justice, and youth development outcomes. “When children engage in this type of learning in meaningful ways, our communities become stronger and our world becomes a more diverse and equitable place,” Morris said. 

    To plan the event, Morris was joined by Berkeley Bryant, Program Coordinator at the Blue Sky Funders Forum; SEEA Executive Director Ashley Hoffman; and Environmental Educators of North Carolina Executive Director Lauren Pyle. The goals were to help funders learn about current needs and trends within environmental education (EE) across the southeast; to explore how funders can explore and make use of data from a recent regional landscape analysis; to offer a space for funders to network with one another; and to collaboratively discuss solutions and strategies for funders to help advance the field of EE in the southeast. 

    In an overview of the field, Bryant shared details about the Tracking the Field searchable grants database, which is led by the Environmental Grantmakers Association. She also shared a snapshot of environmental literacy grantmaking from the past several years, explaining that only 6% of recent environmental philanthropy has gone to environmental literacy and education initiatives, and a high percentage of these grants are less than $50,000. The areas of the US that receive the highest levels of environmental literacy funding are the northeast, the Pacific coast, and at the federal level, and that the areas that receive the least amount of environmental literacy funding (which include the southeast) are the most racially and ethnically diverse (2020 Census Redistricting Data). In the southeast, a highly racially diverse region, the median grant size for environmental literacy initiatives is a mere $2,000. (In comparison, the northeast, which receives 24% of environmental literacy funding and is less racially diverse, has a median environmental literacy grant size of $15,000.) 

    In addition to sharing how increasing philanthropic dollars to environmental education and meaningful experiences outdoors in the southeast is a top priority for the Blue Sky Funders Forum and how structural, systems-wide funding is crucial to build a sustainable movement that advances the role of environmental and outdoor learning, Morris highlighted the work being done by SEEA and its eight state associations. “In many ways, the connective tissue between these states is greater than in many of the regions of the country,” he said. “We at the Pisces Foundation work to amplify good work and shine a spotlight on good work, as does Blue Sky. There’s true investment potential to bring about some structural, durable, systems-wide changes, and the work that SEEA has done has positioned the region well for some significant advancements.”

    Ashley Hoffman (SEEA Executive Director) and Lauren Pyle (Environmental Educators of North Carolina) shared key findings from Phase 1 of a robust regional landscape analysis of environmental education in the southeast. They explained how funders can use the many tools created as part of Phase 1 to determine funding priorities and identify needs and gaps and how, based on the findings from Phase 1 of the landscape analysis, funders looking to make a significant impact on environmental literacy in the southeast have the opportunity to fund systems-level initiatives that fill identified gaps; fund systems-level support, including staffing; support training and planning time for environmental education providers to dig into evaluation, demographics, and equity work; and adjust funding requirements and priorities to support strategies that address the opportunities.

    After the highlights from Phase 1, Hoffman shared updates about the launch of a Phase 2 survey, which is currently being distributed to PreK-12 schools across the southeast. Finally, she shared that thanks to a new partnership between EcoRise, NAAEE, and the Affiliate Network, Phase 1 of the project will be scaled nationwide, and plans are underway to include maps of all 50 states by the fall of 2023.

    The event ended with a panel discussion that featured Alfred Mays (Senior Program Officer and Director and Chief Strategist for Diversity and Education at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund), Dawn Chavez (Executive Director of Asheville GreenWorks), Christine Smith (Executive Director of Seedleaf), Sarah Bodor (Director of Policy and Affiliate Relations at the North American Association for Environmental Education), and Jason Morris. The panelists shared stories about projects they’ve funded; the need for capacity-building support to provide environmental educators and interns with an equitable and living wage; inspiring stories of how funders and organizations worked together to make an impact; successful advocacy initiatives; and the power of student voices when it comes to inspiring and creating change.

    Learn more about the event and the work being done in the southeast

    To learn more about the landscape analysis or this event, contact Lauren Pyle.

  • Thu, September 29, 2022 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    This year’s Annual Conference was themed rEEdefine, redefining how we reflect, connect and identify in the field of EE. It was held September 9 and 10 at the McKimmon Conference and Event Center on NC State’s campus in Raleigh, NC. The event saw 169 attendees over the two days, participating in 24 different sessions! A big thank you to the conference sponsors who helped support the event. 

    Reflecting, Connecting, and Identifying in EE: 

    This year EENC shared a Land Acknowledgement that was written by the newly formed North Carolina American Indian Heritage Commission with the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This acknowledgement not only addresses the Native People across the state of North Carolina, but also allows EENC to address specific tribal recognition as the conference moves across the state to different regions. 

    The keynote speaker was Dr. Rasul Mowatt, NC State’s Department Head of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. He helped us better understand the definition of “decolonization”, a topic of national interest in Environmental Education right now. He shared ideas for resources to deepen our own knowledge, and ways Environmental Educators could continue the valuable work we are doing through practicing Critical Teaching. 

    This year’s conference also saw the launch of Affinity Groups in EE. An Affinity Group is a group of people linked by common interests, identities, or experiences. Affinity Groups play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where all are valued, included, and empowered to succeed. Overall the feedback has been very positive and participants have reported feeling welcomed and better connected within these spaces, but we’ve also heard your feedback on scheduling. Our goal next year is to continue to offer these spaces in a way that doesn’t conflict with sessions. 

    Many of you asked “Why McKimmon?” and the answer comes in our theme of redefining Environmental Education. Environmental education happens in all kinds of spaces, and this year, we wanted our conference venue to reflect that. Our field has become a beautifully diverse array of educators and EENC as a whole has grown tremendously over the last few years. This means that in order to provide inclusive experiences that best support the needs of conference attendees and presenters (meeting spaces, restroom facilities, dietary requirements, internet access, and physical/learning accessibility), EENC may start utilizing locations that look very different from what we’ve used in the past as the conference rotates across the different sections.

    Join Us!

    Next year EENC plans to host the Annual Conference at Camp Rockfish, near Fayetteville, NC. Field trips and workshops will be on Thursday September 7, and the conference will be September 8 and 9, 2023. We are already building our Conference Planning Committee and we could use your help! We are looking for folks interested in sharing their expertise in scheduling/logistics, building regional connections, and supporting access and inclusion to create a welcoming event. Please contact Michelle Pearce, EENC Program Coordinator, if you’d like to join the planning committee. 

  • Tue, September 27, 2022 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Lauren Pyle, Executive Director | 984-999-1702

    For Immediate Release

    Image (left to right): Coty Sutherland, Lindsey Baker, Chris Goforth, Shannon Culpepper, and Breanna Walker. Linda Kinney and Amy Renfranz not pictured.  

    Recognizing Excellence in Environmental Education

    Chapel Hill, N.C. (September 27, 2022). Each year the Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) publicly recognizes environmental educators, members, organizations, and partners for their valuable contributions to environmental literacy, the field of environmental education, the EENC as an organization, and the environmental well-being of North Carolina.

    On September 9, 2022, EENC celebrated seven individuals and organizations for their fantastic work. From EENC Communications Chair, Will Freund: “EENC is honored to recognize and uplift those that have gone above and beyond in the field of environmental education and beyond to make a difference in their community.

    Environmental Educator of The Year

    The 2022 Environmental Educator of The Year was awarded to both Lindsey Baker and Linda Kinney. Lindsey Baker is a Park Ranger at Raven Rock State Park and an NC Certified Environmental Educator. Lindsey has worked in the environmental education field for the last 10 years and has worn many different hats along the way. As a Park Ranger, Lindsey coordinates organizes, and leads hikes throughout the park for many community groups as well as expanding the infrastructure within the park. Most notably, she created the GPS blazing project at Raven Rock State Park, which has helped critically with search and rescue there. Lindsey is described to have a way of making people of all ages, backgrounds, content, and skill levels feel curious, excited, and confident to explore the outdoors.

    Linda Kinney is an educator at the North Carolina Zoo and manager of their Playful Pedagogy program, part of the Zoo’s Conservation, Education, and Science Division. This program advocates for the importance of playing outdoors in the everyday experiences of children and their families through training, civic engagements, and Kidzone at the North Carolina Zoo. Linda Kinney’s incredible work has inspired other educators to create similar programs in their communities because of the impact that they felt going through the Playful Pedagogy series. Linda helps educators focus on how they present material and how people learn, and that is through play.

    Exceptional Environmental Education Program

    Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio Community Yacunne (Fish) Camp was awarded the 2022 Exceptional Environmental Education Program Award and was accepted by Coty Sutherland. The Waccamaw Siouan Indians are one of eight state-recognized Native American tribes in North Carolina. They are located predominantly in the southeastern North Carolina counties of Bladen and Columbus, in the communities of St. James, Buckhead, and Council. The Waccamaw Siouan tribal homeland is situated on the edge of Green Swamp about 37 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, seven miles from Lake Waccamaw, and four miles north of Bolton, North Carolina. Yacunne (pronounced YAH-chu-nee) is the word for fish in Woccon, the tribal language. This innovative program connects culture, heritage, health, and environmental education in one event. The program is intergenerational, giving extended families an environment to spend time in nature together and share skills across generations.

    Outstanding Partner

    This year’s Outstanding Partner Award was given to Don’t Waste It!, Chatham County Solid Waste and Recycling and was accepted by Shannon Culpepper. Developed in 2019, Don't Waste It! is an educator guide to waste management, recycling, composting, and waste reduction, which includes 11 lessons covering five themes: municipal solid waste, recycling, plastics, composting, and landfills. That same year it became part of the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program as a Criteria 1 workshop. In 2020 Chatham County partnered with Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) and received an Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education grant to expand Don't Waste It! within North Carolina and to seven other states in the Southeast.

    Outstanding Practitioner

    The 2022 Outstanding Practitioner Award recognized Chris Goforth. Chris works as Head of Citizen Science at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at their Prarie Ridge Ecostation and is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator. As Head of Citizen Science, Chris regularly works with a wide array of audiences to share the knowledge and power of citizen science. From the Lost Ladybug Project to iNaturalist, to Nature’s Notebook and so many more, there is a citizen science project for everyone. In addition to her work at Prairie Ridge, Chris regularly facilitates workshops, programs, and other professional development opportunities across the state and online, as well as develops content that adds to the greater body of work in the environmental education field and beyond.

    Outstanding Service

    EENC’s 2022 Outstanding Service Award was given to Amy Renfranz. Amy is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator as well as holds a Master's degree in Parks, Recreation, & Leisure Studies from NC State. Over the last decade, Amy has served in a wide array of environmental education positions across North Carolina and the country including, Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Resident Instructor for the Yellowstone Association Institute, Director of Education & Natural Resources for Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, and most recently as the Program Coordinator for New Hanover County Soil & Water Conservation District. In addition to her work, Amy has served on the EENC Board of Directors for the last four years including President-Elect, President, Past President, and Eastern Section Chair including many task forces and committees as well. my is passionate about and committed to her work and is a strong role model for early career professionals. She is a supportive, thoughtful, and dedicated leader and is always willing to get involved and serve her community.

    Outstanding Newcomer

    EENC is excited to recognize Breanna Walker as this year’s Outstanding Newcomer. Breanna works as a Conservation Education Specialist with the Union County Soil & Water Conservation District and currently serves as Piedmont Section Chair on the EENC Board of Directors. Breanna has become a leader in the state as a Soil and Water District employee and has gone above expectations to help other educators who look to her as a mentor in environmental education. She sits on numerous boards and committees throughout Union County and the state. In her short time living in North Carolina so far, she has accomplished much including piloting the first virtual Leopold Education Project workshop in the nation, gaining ecoExplore designation for Union County Agricultural Center, and so much more.

    About the Environmental Educators of North Carolina

    The Environmental Educators of North Carolina grew from the desire of environmental educators across North Carolina to meet and share their experiences, aspirations, and tools. Since its inception in 1990, EENC has grown into something much greater. Our organization represents a network of outstanding environmental educators, individuals, and organizations who work together to accomplish our core mission: to build connections, provide professional development, and promote excellence in environmental education.

    For more information about EENC and these awards, please visit


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Environmental Educators of North Carolina

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

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