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Interactive GIS Map Helps Educators Explore the Natural and Cultural History of the Tar-Pamlico Region

Monday, June 13, 2016 - 12:00am

Staff from the DEQ Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs recently had the opportunity to try out their new interactive GIS map for educators during a workshop hosted by UNC Institute for the Environment’s Environmental Resource Program.

Tracy Weidert, program coordinator with the office participated in the EGRET (Exploring the Geographical Region and Ecosystems of the Tar-Pamlico Watershed) workshop, which was designed to help educators explore the natural and cultural history of the Tar-Pamlico region, learn more about the EGRET curriculum and to explore ways the lessons could be integrated into their existing programs.

Weidert sees a lot of potential for the interactive map because it allows users to explore the geographical and ecological features of their region with students and program participants. “With the map you can identify which river basin you live in, what type of soil is beneath your feet, examine the topography of your area, and more. The map also displays the state’s Environmental Education Centers, of which there are over 200 in North Carolina,” said Weidert.

The workshop was offered to educators from state parks, science museums, nature centers and colleges and universities. The workshop is an extension of the EGRET Program, a year-long fellowship program to engage 5th grade teachers from the Tar-Pamlico river basin in hands-on, inquiry-based activities integrated across content areas and with the outdoors. 

 “We hope to make the program more sustainable by offering training to environmental educators in the field who can then support classroom teachers in their areas,” said Sarah Yelton, EGRET Program Manager, with UNC Institute for the Environment.

The professional development training included sessions on how to lead nature journaling programs that build observation skills and how to do citizen science in the schoolyard. Participants learned these skills and more at the two-day workshop, which was held at Goose Creek State Park. Park rangers and staff were essential to helping facilitate the workshop sessions which also included: exploring swamp and marsh ecosystems; investigating Goose Creek by kayak; tar kilns + turpentine: how NC’s ecosystems built the state (with demonstration of a working tar kiln); and exploring ecosystem response to human activity.

More information about the EGRET program can be found at

To explore your ecological address using our new map, visit