Teachers flock to Highlands for climate change workshop

Twenty-two high school science teachers from across North Carolina recently visited the Highlands Biological Station for a weekend retreat focusing on the impact of climate change on the Southern Appalachian mountain ecosystem.  

The Highlands Biological Station, an inter-institutional center of the University of North Carolina system that is administered by Western Carolina University, hosted the teachers in collaboration with the Institute for the Environment at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The teachers are enrolled in the NC CLIMATE Fellows Program. The professional development program – which stands for North Carolina Climate Literacy: Integrating Modeling and Technology Experiences in N.C. Classrooms – is designed to increase teachers’ knowledge of current climate change science and use of technology to support climate change instruction.

Made possible through $318,000 in funds from NASA’s Innovations in Climate Education (or NICE) project, the NC CLIMATE Fellows program will serve up to 24 N.C. high school teachers annually for the next three years. The teachers will investigate how scientists are studying climate change and its impacts on the local, regional and global scales, as well as how scientists use NASA data and models in their research.  

The weekend retreat in Highlands was one part of the free yearlong program, said James Costa, director of the Highlands Biological Station and professor of biology at WCU.

“Participants were immersed in themes related to the ecology of climate change as it pertains to the mountains,” said Costa. “Emphasis was placed on salamanders, which are especially abundant and diverse in the Great Smokies, as well as plant species unique to the Southern Appalachian Mountains.”

828.526.2602 or www.wcu.edu/hbs.

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