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Reflections and Accomplishments from The First Five Years of EENC's Mini-Grant Program

2023 marks the fifth year of EENC’s mini-grant program, an innovative, equity-driven member benefit that promotes excellence in environmental education across North Carolina through direct financial support.

Mini-grants provide supplementary funding to EENC Member teachers, volunteers, and organizations to support their environmental education efforts, by allowing them to implement new projects, build infrastructure, purchase needed supplies, attend professional development training, and more. 

It’s been an impactful first five years for the mini-grant program: since 2019, EENC has allocated almost $11,000 in grants to 37 environmental educators across the state. EENC mini-grants helped those educators reach over 10,000 learners in North Carolina with high-quality, meaningful environmental education experiences over the last five years, with direct impact in 28 counties spanning all four of EENC’s Regional Sections, including 12 counties that are classified as rural by the NC Rural Center. Awardees are uniformly satisfied with their participation in the mini-grant program, with 76% reporting that EENC’s support directly enabled them to take on and complete their project of choice, and 47% reporting that they had no other source of funding for their project.

I decided to apply once I saw that funds could be used for professional development,” says 2023 Awardee Ginny Macon Paul of Beaufort County Schools. “I had heard of and researched the program STEAM in the PARKS but had put off applying due to the cost of the program and the lack of funds to support professional development in the school system I worked for. The mini-grant funding enabled me to attend this event!”

EENC would like to thank all of our community members who have volunteered their time to review mini-grant applications since 2019 – because of your generous contributions, our mini-grant program is by members, for members.

Below, find links to each annual celebratory recap blog post, an impact map displaying all project locations, and the complete list of all awardees and impacted counties to date. 




All Mini-Grant Awardees to Date:

  • Beth Cranford, Durham Community Preschool, Durham, 2019

  • Diane Mason, ACE Education, Fuquay-Varina, 2019

  • Jamie Dunleavy, Union Academy Charter School, Monroe, 2019

  • Julie Hall, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh, 2019

  • Katie Lockhart, White Deer Park, Garner, 2019

  • Leanna Staton, Clay County SWCD, Hayesville, 2019

  • Mir Youngquist-Thurow, ACE Education, Fuquay-Varina, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

  • Shalyn Yost, Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County, Hendersonville, 2019, 2021

  • Shannon Unger, Cabarrus County Schools, Charlotte, 2019

  • Sandra Dixon, Pioneer Springs Community School, Charlotte, 2020

  • Jenna Hartley, NC State, Durham and Onslow Counties, 2020

  • Tatiana Height, UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies, Greensboro, 2020

  • Marisa Sedlak, Town of Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation, Beech Mountain, 2020

  • Trent Stanforth, JCCC Howell Woods, Four Oaks, 2020

  • Willard Watson, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Blowing Rock, 2020

  • Wendy Wilson, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Charlotte, 2020

  • Alayna Schmidt, WNC Nature Center, Asheville, 2021

  • Karen Chapmen, W.D. Williams Elementary School, Swannanoa, 2021

  • Jessica Metz, New Kituwah Academy, Cherokee, 2021

  • Lauren Gibson, NC State, Camden County High School, Pine Forest High School, Northwest Guilford High School, Tuscola High School, 2021

  • Lauren Green, NC Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, 2021

  • Marguerite Bishop, Nashville Elementary School, Nashville, 2021

  • Marilyn Jesrani, Carolina Outdoor Fun, Raleigh, 2021

  • Ranita Anderson, Book Harvest, Durham, 2021

  • Sarah Pursel, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Highlands, 2021

  • Joanna Orozco, Raíces, Asheville, 2022

  • Katy Menne, NC Maritime Museum at Southport, Southport, 2022

  • Kayla Mounce McCoy, Wilkes County SWCD, Wilkesboro, 2022, 2023

  • Marissa Blackburn, Cape Fear River Watch, Wilmington, 2022

  • Meredith Katz, Shady Brook Elementary School, Kannapolis, 2022

  • Tallis Monterio, Asheville GreenWorks, Asheville, 2022

  • Tori Duval, Friends of the WNC Nature Center, Asheville, 2022

  • Renee Pagoota-Wight, Sherrills Ford Elementary School, Sherrills Ford, 2022

  • Ginny Paul, Beaufort County Schools, Washington, 2023

  • Jennie Emmons, Excelsior Classical Academy, Durham, 2023

  • Allison Murphy, Town of Garner/White Deer Park, Garner, 2023

  • Desirae Clodefleter, Winston-Salem-Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem, 2023


All NC Counties Directly Impacted by Mini-Grant Program to Date:

  • Avery (Western) 

  • Beaufort (Eastern) 

  • Brunswick (Eastern) 

  • Buncombe (Western)

  • Cabarrus (Piedmont)

  • Caldwell (Western) 

  • Camden (Eastern) 

  • Catawba (Western)

  • Cherokee (Western) 

  • Clay (Western) 

  • Cumberland (Eastern)

  • Durham (Central)

  • Forsyth (Piedmont)

  • Guilford (Piedmont)

  • Haywood (Western) 

  • Henderson (Western)

  • Johnston (Central)

  • Macon (Western) 

  • Mecklenburg (Piedmont)

  • Nash (Central)

  • New Hanover (Eastern)

  • Onslow (Eastern)

  • Orange (Central)

  • Rowan (Piedmont)

  • Union (Piedmont)

  • Wake (Central)

  • Watauga (Western)

  • Wilkes (Western)



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