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Recognizing Excellence in Environmental Education (2022 EENC Awards)


CONTACT Lauren Pyle, Executive Director | 984-999-1702

For Immediate Release

Chapel Hill, N.C. (September 27, 2022). Each year the Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) publicly recognizes environmental educators, members, organizations, and partners for their valuable contributions to environmental literacy, the field of environmental education, the EENC as an organization, and the environmental well-being of North Carolina.

On September 9, 2022, EENC celebrated seven individuals and organizations for their fantastic work. From EENC Communications Chair, Will Freund: “EENC is honored to recognize and uplift those that have gone above and beyond in the field of environmental education and beyond to make a difference in their community.

Environmental Educator of The Year

The 2022 Environmental Educator of The Year was awarded to both Lindsey Baker and Linda Kinney. Lindsey Baker is a Park Ranger at Raven Rock State Park and an NC Certified Environmental Educator. Lindsey has worked in the environmental education field for the last 10 years and has worn many different hats along the way. As a Park Ranger, Lindsey coordinates organizes, and leads hikes throughout the park for many community groups as well as expanding the infrastructure within the park. Most notably, she created the GPS blazing project at Raven Rock State Park, which has helped critically with search and rescue there. Lindsey is described to have a way of making people of all ages, backgrounds, content, and skill levels feel curious, excited, and confident to explore the outdoors.

Linda Kinney is an educator at the North Carolina Zoo and manager of their Playful Pedagogy program, part of the Zoo’s Conservation, Education, and Science Division. This program advocates for the importance of playing outdoors in the everyday experiences of children and their families through training, civic engagements, and Kidzone at the North Carolina Zoo. Linda Kinney’s incredible work has inspired other educators to create similar programs in their communities because of the impact that they felt going through the Playful Pedagogy series. Linda helps educators focus on how they present material and how people learn, and that is through play.

Exceptional Environmental Education Program

Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio Community Yacunne (Fish) Camp was awarded the 2022 Exceptional Environmental Education Program Award and was accepted by Coty Sutherland. The Waccamaw Siouan Indians are one of eight state-recognized Native American tribes in North Carolina. They are located predominantly in the southeastern North Carolina counties of Bladen and Columbus, in the communities of St. James, Buckhead, and Council. The Waccamaw Siouan tribal homeland is situated on the edge of Green Swamp about 37 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, seven miles from Lake Waccamaw, and four miles north of Bolton, North Carolina. Yacunne (pronounced YAH-chu-nee) is the word for fish in Woccon, the tribal language. This innovative program connects culture, heritage, health, and environmental education in one event. The program is intergenerational, giving extended families an environment to spend time in nature together and share skills across generations.

Outstanding Partner

This year’s Outstanding Partner Award was given to Don’t Waste It!, Chatham County Solid Waste and Recycling and was accepted by Shannon Culpepper. Developed in 2019, Don't Waste It! is an educator guide to waste management, recycling, composting, and waste reduction, which includes 11 lessons covering five themes: municipal solid waste, recycling, plastics, composting, and landfills. That same year it became part of the North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program as a Criteria 1 workshop. In 2020 Chatham County partnered with Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC) and received an Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education grant to expand Don't Waste It! within North Carolina and to seven other states in the Southeast.

Outstanding Practitioner

The 2022 Outstanding Practitioner Award recognized Chris Goforth. Chris works as Head of Citizen Science at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at their Prarie Ridge Ecostation and is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator. As Head of Citizen Science, Chris regularly works with a wide array of audiences to share the knowledge and power of citizen science. From the Lost Ladybug Project to iNaturalist, to Nature’s Notebook and so many more, there is a citizen science project for everyone. In addition to her work at Prairie Ridge, Chris regularly facilitates workshops, programs, and other professional development opportunities across the state and online, as well as develops content that adds to the greater body of work in the environmental education field and beyond.

Outstanding Service

EENC’s 2022 Outstanding Service Award was given to Amy Renfranz. Amy is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator as well as holds a Master's degree in Parks, Recreation, & Leisure Studies from NC State. Over the last decade, Amy has served in a wide array of environmental education positions across North Carolina and the country including, Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Resident Instructor for the Yellowstone Association Institute, Director of Education & Natural Resources for Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, and most recently as the Program Coordinator for New Hanover County Soil & Water Conservation District. In addition to her work, Amy has served on the EENC Board of Directors for the last four years including President-Elect, President, Past President, and Eastern Section Chair including many task forces and committees as well. my is passionate about and committed to her work and is a strong role model for early career professionals. She is a supportive, thoughtful, and dedicated leader and is always willing to get involved and serve her community.

Outstanding Newcomer

EENC is excited to recognize Breanna Walker as this year’s Outstanding Newcomer. Breanna works as a Conservation Education Specialist with the Union County Soil & Water Conservation District and currently serves as Piedmont Section Chair on the EENC Board of Directors. Breanna has become a leader in the state as a Soil and Water District employee and has gone above expectations to help other educators who look to her as a mentor in environmental education. She sits on numerous boards and committees throughout Union County and the state. In her short time living in North Carolina so far, she has accomplished much including piloting the first virtual Leopold Education Project workshop in the nation, gaining ecoExplore designation for Union County Agricultural Center, and so much more.

About the Environmental Educators of North Carolina

The Environmental Educators of North Carolina grew from the desire of environmental educators across North Carolina to meet and share their experiences, aspirations, and tools. Since its inception in 1990, EENC has grown into something much greater. Our organization represents a network of outstanding environmental educators, individuals, and organizations who work together to accomplish our core mission: to build connections, provide professional development, and promote excellence in environmental education.


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