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I am EENC: Justin Young, RiverLink

I am EENC is a series of quarterly guest-written blog posts where members share their journeys, passions, and accomplishments as environmental educators in their own words. By EENC members, for EENC members.

 

Hello, fellow environmental educators! My name is Justin Young, and I'm thrilled to share a glimpse of my journey in the environmental education realm with you. Currently based in Asheville, North Carolina, I serve as the Education & Outreach Manager at RiverLink, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the environmental and economic vitality of the French Broad River and its watershed for all.



My venture into the environmental education field was somewhat serendipitous. While attending Appalachian State University, I pursued a degree in Sustainable Development and City Planning. It was during this time that I crossed paths with a professor specializing in environmental education, particularly focusing on freshwater ecosystems. Joining her at numerous educational events and witnessing the awe on children's faces as they explored a creek for the first time, I realized that this was my calling. Following graduation, I was fortunate to join the RiverLink team as an AmeriCorps member, serving for two years as the Volunteer Coordinator. At the end of my second term, I was offered a newly created position to manage our growing education programs.



In my role at RiverLink, I have the privilege of engaging with remarkable community members and organizational partners to offer free and engaging opportunities for children to delve into streams, rivers, and freshwater ecology, both in-school and afterschool. I’ve seen the profound impact of these partnerships and their ability to empower everyone involved, cultivating a diverse network of environmental stewards. Sharing my passion for the environment and education with these people has been one of the greatest joys of my career. Every time I get to bring students to a creek, looking for macroinvertebrates or testing water chemistry, I get to share in their excitement of finding a crayfish, holding a mayfly, or simply splashing in the water. Helping them understand the intricacies of our waterways gives me hope that we can protect the beauty of our natural resources here in Western North Carolina.


My introduction to the Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) was an important moment in my professional journey. EENC's mission to support and connect environmental educators across the state resonated deeply with me. Motivated by the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals and access professional development resources, I eagerly became a member.


RiverLink has held EENC's Bronze Membership for many years and it has been a game-changer for both myself and our team. From networking opportunities to trainings and workshops, EENC has provided invaluable support that has bolstered our educational initiatives. 



I am Justin Young, and I am EENC because it fosters a community of committed educators who can exchange knowledge and celebrate achievements together.
Through our collective efforts, we are nurturing a generation of environmentally literate citizens who are poised to become the future stewards of our planet.

 

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