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 Tuesday, April 22, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Earth Educator Nick Carter teaches local school children to love the environment
By Joanna Nasar, graduate student, Environmental Journalism

Earth Education is an innovative internship and class that connects CU-Boulder students with Boulder schools. The program began in 1986 and has grown to include more than 24 interns.

Instructor Susan Strife, an environmental studies doctoral candidate, believes the program has grown because of the commitment of school teachers and of the undergraduates. "This year has been the most successful program yet with 24 interns working in over 10 different classrooms and after school programs," said Strife. The program set out to educate children about the environment and in doing so it has given CU-Boulder students classroom experience.

The program benefits children, students, the campus and the community. "Earth Education is a powerful way to link undergraduate role models to elementary and middle school students through environmental education," said Strife. It is also provides real life role models for children in the community.

Senior Nick Carter, an environmental science major, is a student educator for Earth Education and a role model in the classroom. He teaches 22 fourth graders at Crest View Elementary School every Wednesday and embodies the goals of Earth Education, according to Strife. "Carter is the model Earth Education intern, as he has taken his commitment beyond the borders of CU-Boulder and into his career path," she said. "He is motivated, bright and ready to give back to his community by teaching natural science education."

In the first two weeks of the course Carter and his classmates went though training to learn how to effectively teach children about environmental issues. Next, they chose a theme. "Our theme was water so we started off with the water cycle and went on to backyard ecology," Carter said. His group picked water because Carter specializes in hydrology and they thought students would enjoy learning about this important natural resource. "A lot of our education practice is first getting the kids to just love nature," he said.

Carter said the CU-Environmental Center provides great resources to student educators and he uses those resources to form ideas and plan lessons. The center provides helpful teaching aides such as My Water Comes from the Mountains, a book by environmental educator Tiffany Fourment and information about restoration from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For Carter, the experience has changed his job track from science to environmental education. When he graduates he will work as an educator at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. "I think transferring your knowledge to other people is really helpful and has a larger impact," Carter said. "You feel like you are doing something important."


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