In keeping with one of the federation’s goals to educate people in “all walks of life,” our educators conduct professional development trainings for local K-12 classroom teachers as well as students.
This ensures we have motivated and engaged professionals helping us to protect and restore our coast and also to spread our message of stewardship to more students. Our educator in our northeast office, Sara Hallas, recently led several training sessions for teachers in hopes of doing just that.
A couple of these learning opportunities took place at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a state-funded facility on Ocracoke Island.
NCCAT is a recognized national leader in professional development programming for teachers. Their week-long cross-disciplinary seminars allow teachers from across the state to immerse themselves in a wide range of experiential studies and return to their classrooms recharged with energy and resources.
The federation has led sessions at NCCAT for the past five years, with gratifying results.
We use this valuable opportunity to spread our mission not only to teachers on the coast but also to classrooms and students statewide.
Hands-On Education Yields Living Classroom for the Future
Traditionally the federation has participated in science-based seminars, using our living shoreline restoration project onsite for experiential learning experiences — linking education with hands-on restoration in true federation fashion.
In fact, past “Planet Wetlands” seminar participants (2010-2011) played a major role in restoring the shoreline.
These dedicated teachers:
- Planted thousands of marsh grasses;
- Spread tens of thousands of oyster shells;
- Transformed this highly eroded shoreline into a flourishing, stable marsh;
- Developed new lesson plans for their students; and
- Created an outdoor classroom that the federation will use in a variety of professional development topics for years to come.
New Topics, Same Great Teaching
This fall, the federation participated in seminars focused on integrating literacy with science and was able spread coastal awareness even further across the state. During the two seminars, 35 teachers from 15 different non-coastal counties learned about the importance of the estuary through hands-on activities that they could in turn share with their students. All this was accomplished while meeting state standards in both science and literacy.
- Learned about river basins and watersheds;
- Constructed an edible estuary;
- Formulated marsh metaphors; and
- Simulated stormwater runoff as they became individual rain drops themselves.
The shoreline is now well established, so additional marsh grass plantings are no longer necessary, but the learning opportunities still abound. So while the next class of teachers can enjoy a priceless view of the Pamlico Sound without getting any blisters, they will also leave with a better understanding of why this hard work is so valuable.