DEQ Secretary visits Sarah P. Duke Gardens to recognize environmental educator

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 1:01pm

DEQ Secretary Michael Regan recently went to Sarah P. Duke Gardens to recognize Rebecca Lauzon for completing her N.C. Environmental Education Certification.

Lauzon is a graduate student completing a PhD in earth and ocean sciences, studying the evolution of coastal landscapes. In her spare time, she attends environmental education workshops and writes lesson plans based on her PhD research. She also runs the lesson plan kit program for the group Scientific Research and Education Network (SciREN), a scientist-educator networking organization. After graduating this spring, Rebecca plans to pursue a career in environmental education.

Lauzon chose Duke Gardens for the recognition because she volunteers as a guide and has taken several trainings at the gardens as part of her certification. Kavanah Anderson, Education Program Coordinator and Kati Henderson, Education Program Assistant at Duke Gardens joined Lauzon and Secretary Regan. “It was an honor to present Rebecca with her environmental education certificate and to see her enthusiasm for educating children. I’m glad we could recognize Rebecca’s achievement at Duke Gardens since it was an important part of her journey in environmental education,” said Regan.  

Lauzon says her favorite part of earning her certification was attending the environmental education workshops. “Meeting the other educators and seeing the same group of people at many other workshops really made me feel like part of a community,” said Lauzon. “It was so inspiring to be surrounded by other people as excited as I was to be learning about cool things such as birds, trees or reptiles.”

Lauzon is a team member with SciREN, a non-profit organization that brings local STEM researchers and educators together to help improve STEM education at all levels. For her certification project, Rebecca established the SciREN’s lesson plan kit program. “For the kits, I worked with educators to determine which SciREN lesson plans may require materials that teachers don't have in their classrooms,” said Lauzon.

Other SciREN team members helped her acquire funding to purchase supplies for the lessons and to distribute them for free to educators. “This allows educators across the state to use lesson plans based on cutting-edge scientific research,” said Lauzon. “Since 2015, I've sent more than 100 kits that will be used by almost 4,000 students across the state.”

Lauzon says the program changed the way she thinks about environmental issues and exposed her to new issues such as environmental justice. “Before the program, I did not think about educating people so that they could make their own, informed, environmental decisions. For example, I did not realize the difference between environmental education and environmental advocacy. Now I think about the opportunity to provide people with skills in addition to knowledge.”