Archived Outdoors

Highlands educator given statewide honor

Patrick Brannon, outreach specialist at the Highlands Biological Station, has received the 2021 award for exceptional environmental education programs from the Environmental Educators of North Carolina.

Brannon received the award for his STEM outreach programs for regional schools. He gives the programs almost daily in schools and other community groups across Western North Carolina, with locations ranging from classrooms to remote field locations along the Appalachian Trail.

The EENC award recognizes excellence in environmental education and was given during the organization’s 30th annual conference held Sept. 10-11 in Arden. Highlands Biological Station offers more than 50 programs, ranging from “show and tell” sessions for youngsters to immersive field labs for high school students. Classes are designed to meet curriculum requirements of state science essential standards.

Highlands Biological Station was also successful in adapting nearly all of its programs to a virtual format during the pandemic, including field courses. In 2020, the station served more than 10,000 students through 250-plus STEM outreach programs, with 70% held virtually, for 48 different schools across 13 regional counties. The addition of virtual programming also has allowed expansion to include schools as far away as Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville.

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