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State environmental program honoring earth science educators


The state Department of Environmental Quality is honoring two educators for their innovative approaches at teaching earth science.

Annette Bartlett, a middle school teacher at Harris Road Middle School in Cabarrus County, won state and regional awards as the 2017 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher.

Jennifer Brooks, who coordinates environmental education for students and adults as part of her work with the Durham County Soil and Water Conservation District, received the state’s 2017 Outstanding Earth Science Educator Award.

State award winners are selected annually by a judging committee made of previous winners of these awards. These outstanding teachers and educators are the most qualified to determine a winner through their own experience and excellence in educating. The N.C. Geological Survey, which is a program in the Department of Environmental Quality, coordinated the awards program.

“These educators are devoted to helping students better understand the importance of a subject that sometimes does not get the respect it deserves,” said Randy Bechtel, a geologist who coordinates the awards program for the N.C. Geological Survey. “Earth sciences affect every part of your daily life from using natural resources to build our modern lives to preparing for natural phenomena like hurricanes. To be earth science literate will help students throughout their lives and these teachers recognize its importance.”

Bechtel said Bartlett was selected for the award because of her creative teaching style. Bartlett received high marks from colleagues when she assigned her students to select an element from the periodic table and research how their lives would be affected if that element did not exist.

“As a teacher, it is nice to be recognized for all the hard work I put into my classroom so the students can have a Global Project Based Learning Environment,” Bartlett told sponsors of the awards program. This “will allow them to see how earth science connects to the world.”

Brooks is a certified North Carolina environmental educator and can be found teaching students from kindergarten through adults. She also puts her skills to work helping students better understand environmental subjects during Envirothon events.

“As an earth science educator I, like all others in this field, do this job because of a passion to connect people with nature, not for prizes and awards,” Brooks wrote in a thank you to the award’s sponsors. “But when one is recognized for their hard work and dedication … it gives validation that what you do is appreciated and celebrated.”


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