The Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan presented a certificate of completion to Holly Ferreira, a wildlife technician with the Environmental Conservation Branch at the Wildlife Viewing Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, March 4.

Ferreira completed the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education (NCEE) Certification Program over a two year span, while simultaneously working full-time as a wildlife technician.

“It really makes us [the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality] feel good to know that citizens from every walk of life, such as wildlife technicians, teachers and park rangers, take the time to look into and learn our curriculum,” said Regan. “They are part of the fabric of the department of environmental quality.”

The program is designed to encourage professional development in environmental education and acknowledge educators committed to environmental stewardship. The program establishes standards for professional excellence in environmental education for formal and non-formal educators.

“The wildlife viewing area has been an ongoing project for a while now,” said Ferreira. “To see the knowledge I learned in the program helping something as big as the installation and the installation’s wildlife, it’s amazing.”

The self-paced program consists of six different components which include 70 hours of approved instructional workshops, 50 hours of outdoor environmental education experiences, 30 hours of knowledge of environmental education resources and facilities, 30 hours of teaching experiences, 20 hours of community partnership projects and 50 hours of continuing education in environmental education every five years.

“The strenuous requirements for the program show the dedication that people who complete the certification have to have environmental education and stewardship,” said Ferreira. “I traveled all over the state to attend workshops, as we are required to visit facilities in the mountains, Piedmont and coastal plain regions. Some of the workshops brought me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn new concepts in detail.”

Once educators earn their certification, they are required to complete 50 hours of continuing education every five years in order to maintain an active status within the program. Once submitted and approved, the educator’s certification will be renewed and will remain active for the next five years.

“When environmental educators pursue professional development opportunities such as this, they can better teach others about the environment and wildlife,” Ferreira said. “Many Marines and their families interact with the environment on a daily basis, so they can greatly benefit from a variety of environmental education programs.”

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