Secretary Regan presents Orange County soil and water educator with environmental education certificate

Monday, December 18, 2017 - 1:03pm

DEQ’s secretary, Michael Regan, made a visit to the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District this week to present Lisa Pope with her environmental education certificate.

Pope is the resource program support coordinator for the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District and recently completed the department’s Environmental Education Certification Program. Secretary Regan took this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of educators like Pope to science education and environmental stewardship.

“North Carolina is fortunate to have Soil and Water Conservation Districts as educational resources for citizens, educators and students, said Secretary Regan. “Lisa is a great example of an outstanding educator and community leader that we have in North Carolina, and we want to recognize her dedication to educating children and adults in environmental education."

As a nonformal educator, Pope shares her knowledge in the field of water and soil quality and conservation practices with students and teachers. “I especially enjoy using hands-on techniques to teach children and developing lessons that help teachers meet their curriculum needs,” said Pope.

Pope says her favorite part of earning her certification was meeting professionals and other educators from across the state. “I exchanged phone numbers and emails with my new ‘friends’ as we coordinated together on school lessons and programs for local Orange County traditional schools, homeschools and students. I already knew a lot about soil and water, but I especially enjoyed learning more about forestry, wildlife and other natural resources.”

The experience of the Methods of Teaching Environmental Education workshop taught by Tanya Poole with Wildlife Resources Commission was what stood out for Pope. “I have been teaching school programs for the past 14 years prior to beginning the certification process, but it was during the methods workshop that I had my ‘aha moment.’ During this process, I learned how to create lessons for teachers to assist them with meeting their science curriculum needs, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction,” said Pope.

For her community partnership project, which is required for environmental education certification, Pope, along with Orange County Assistant Superintendent of Parks, Sharon Kelly, collaborated to create a nine-station outdoor learning trail at the Orange County Blackwood Farm Park in Hillsborough. Each station on the trail identifies local natural resources. All stations were approved by two local Orange County teachers. The stations serve as learning kiosks that teach visitors about wetlands and aquatic animal habitat, river basins, soils, water quality and pollinators. Trail visitors can check out a self-guided tour brochure that will correlate with the nine stations using ready-made lessons visitors can follow.

Pope looks forward to reaching more educators and students in the future. “I want to inspire others by teaching my audience about our shared responsibility for the environment and how each of us can make a difference for future generations. I want to help people of all ages, languages and cultures focus on their own personal responsibility for protecting our natural resources.”

Lisa Tolley