Environmental Education Endorsement One of Only Two in Nation Recognized by NCATE

file photo of environmental education

The environmental education endorsement program offered by the Eastern Kentucky University Center for Environmental Education recently became only the second such program in the U.S. to earn national recognition from the National Council for the Association of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The 12-hour endorsement program for in-service P-12 teachers, one of many services provided by the Center, is a collaborative effort between the Center and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Four courses comprise the endorsement program: Ecology for Teachers, Environmental Issues, Environmental Education Essentials, and Teaching Environmental Education.

“Our environmental education endorsement program has met all the standards for quality set forth by NCATE,” said Billy Bennett, director of EKU’s Center for Environmental Education.

Bennett was the first to earn the EKU endorsement among 33 “graduates” of the program since its establishment in 2007. The second was Model Laboratory School teacher Susan Neumann, who was named Outstanding Secondary School Science Teacher by the Kentucky Academy of Science in 2011, four years after she earned Kentucky Conservation Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts.

Participants in the program include new as well as “seasoned” teachers.

In addition to providing environmental education training for in-service and, on a more limited scale, pre-service teachers, EKU’s Center for Environmental Education:

·         coordinates regional services with other colleges and universities.

·         develops environmental programs and curriculum.

·         conducts and evaluates research in environmental education.

·         assists communities in understanding environmental issues.

Thirty-three pre-service and in-service teachers have participated in environmental education workshops in the Earth Force service learning model with workshops held at the University’s 1,700-acre Maywoods Environmental and Educational Laboratory. In 2012, the Center provided quality environmental education to approximately 1,500 K-12 students visiting Maywoods. The number included some new schools involved with the Appalachian Gear Up project through Berea College.

Also in 2012, the Center finished three major grants:

·         Kentucky University Partnership for Environmental Education Energy initiative, to train practicing teachers in EKU’s service region in Earth Force Service Learning Community Action Problem Solving.

·         University Energy Education Curriculum Project, for developing and piloting an energy education curriculum for teachers.

·         Kentucky’s No Child Left Inside Project, for developing the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Project.

In addition to Maywoods, which straddles the Garrard and Rockcastle county lines, the Center utilizes the 554-acre Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station in Letcher County.

Numerous EKU faculty members across several academic disciplines are involved in various programs sponsored by the Center, which is an active member of the Kentucky University Partnership for Environmental Education (KUPEE).

The NCATE accreditation runs through 2018. The only other accredited environmental education endorsement program is at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

For more information about EKU’s Center for Environmental Education, visitwww.naturalareas.eku.edu/center-environmental-education.

Published on February 13, 2013