Research Projects

Current Projects

sitelogoBuilding climate literacy among agriculture communities by leveraging the power of younger generations.  We are excited to continue to work with the agriculture education community with a new grant funded by the USDA.  We will be training high school agriculture teachers in the PLT Southeastern Forests and Climate Change secondary module and measuring climate literacy among teachers and students.  We will also be involving NC State undergraduates in a service-learning capacity.  Agriculture communities tend to be skeptical of the scientifically accepted causes of global warming (human activities), so we are particularly interested in how agriculture education students view climate change and how their worldviews impact those viewpoints.

Muddy SneakersIdentifying how outdoor education advances environmental literacy and classroom achievement: an evaluation of Muddy Sneakers.   
Since Fall 2015, we have partnered Muddy Sneakers out of Brevard, NC to evaluate their program and look at some really exciting research questions.  Muddy Sneakers take fifth graders outdoors for a minimum of six classroom periods in a school year to teach science.  Internal evaluations and anecdotal evidence suggest promising impacts on EOG scores and environmental literacy.  We are conducting a two-year evaluation of the program to look into those same questions as well as look at how the program might impact connection to nature and overall well-being as well as how these impacts might differ according to gender, ethnicity, or other demographic factors.

Fostering Climate Literacy and Coastal Hazard Resilience in Coastal Communities through Intergenerational Transfer.  We are excited to be working with Sea Grant for a third funding cycle.  We are expanding on our last curriculum development project to see if robust field-based educational experience will not only benefit kids, but also “trickle up” to parents through intergenerational transfer.  We are partnering with a long list of coastal organizations including the Coastal Federation, Albemarle/Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP), NC State Parks, the National Park Service, CMAST, and many others

Past Projects

Building Ocean and Climate Literacy in North Carolina through a partnership with Project WILD.

During fall 2014, we wrote a new climate literacy module that will be published internationally through Project WILD.  Funded by Sea Grant, we trained our first group of teachers in December 2014 and are in the process of evaluating program impacts over the spring 2015 semester.  We will train the second group of teachers in December 2015.

Building Environmental Literacy and Leadership through integrating Environmental and Agricultural Education and Service Learning.  We are collaborating with members of the NC Agricultural Education department to train nearly 100 NC high school agriculture teachers in Project Learning Tree.  We expect that engaging agricultural teachers with EE curriculum will help them incorporate environmental literacy principals in their classrooms, fostering an EE/agricultural partnership that  is often a missed opportunity.  We trained our first group of teachers in August 2014 and are analyzing data from the 2014-15 school year.  We trained the second group in August 2015 and will be looking at how impacts may change over time.

Related research interests include:

  • How to bridge the agriculture and natural resources management communities through shared goals but in spite of different values and worldviews
  • How outdoor education can improve connection to nature and overall well-being among kids.
  • How outdoor education can be used to improve environmental literacy, especially among underserved populations.

  • The importance of environmental education curricula such as Project Learning TreeProject WET, and Project WILD in improving environmental literacy.

  • The critical role teacher training and experience play in building environmental literacy

  • Factors that shape kids’ perceptions of climate change, such as hope, worldview, and climate-specific education

  • How to best prepare teachers to build environmental and climate literacy among their students.

  • How to reach new audiences to build climate literacy, including those who may not think climate change is happening or caused by humans.