Environmental education in Durham

Oct. 19, 2013 @ 12:48 AM

A conservationist from West Africa named Baba Dioum once said, “in the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught."

This statement is true about all things, but particularly in the context of environmental education. If a child is never taught about nature and that it’s not as scary as it may look sometimes, then how will he or she learn? Similarly how will children today grow into responsible adults who will be faced with making major decisions about clean water, clean energy, good agricultural practices or more without understanding the issues involved?

Environmental education is the key to teaching present and future generations about our area’s unique and critical resources, and the importance of conservation. By understanding nature and how it works, kids, and adults will have a better awareness of particular environmental issues. One program geared towards teaching our youth about natural resources and conservation is the Envirothon Program.

The Envirothon is a hands-on, natural science academic event that challenges and engages students to think critically about the natural world and their role in it. High school and middle school teams, each consisting of three to five students, demonstrate their management knowledge and problem-solving skills in a competition centered on five categories: soils/land use, wildlife, forestry, aquatics, and current environmental issues. Coordinated by the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District, Envirothon teams are organized within public and private schools, homeschooled groups and other youth oriented groups, such as 4-H and FFA.  The Envirothon is a spring competition, but teams start studying in the fall of the year to prepare. Not only does this program teach about nature and environmental issues, but it exposes participants to a multitude of educational and career opportunities they may never have heard of otherwise.

The Durham Soil & Water Conservation District also offers a variety of other educational opportunities for pre-K to 12th grade students and adult community groups. All of our programs attempt to increase awareness of natural resources while encouraging life-long stewardship of our environment. We offer programs to all Durham County and City residents at no cost. Whether you are a public, private or homeschool teacher, community club, civic organization, etc., we can bring the lessons to you. All education programs follow objectives outlined in the North Carolina Curriculum Course of Study.

Programs offered include Classroom Presentations, Conservation Contests, Teachers Workshops in natural resources, Resource Conservation Workshop for high school students, Learning Library and Environmental Field Days for 3rd grade.

Please call the Durham Soil & Water office at 919-560-0558 or visit our website at http://www.dconc.gov/swcd to learn more about our Environmental Education Programs.

Lisa Marochak is an administrative officer II with the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District, part of Durham County Government. Its mission is to conserve, enhance and promote the natural resources of Durham County by providing technical assistance, environmental education information and economic incentives to County citizens and by exhibiting a diversified program to meet its changing needs. To learn more please visit www.dconc.gov.