Job Title: Environmental Educator
Type of Company: I work for a county government.
Education: BS, Human Ecology, Kansas State University graduate study at the University of Louisville, North Carolina State University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Previous Experience: I was hired as an environmental educator -- the "Keep America Beautiful" director -- because I had been a volunteer in the field and had relevant volunteer experience.
Job Tasks: My job has two components. As a Program Director in county government, I am responsible for developing an annual work plan and a budget for carrying it out. I am also considered a middle manager and I have to attend management planning meetings to coordinate with other departments within county government. I have to hire and manage my small staff of educators and an office manager and write their semi-annual and annual evaluations. I also try to attend, and have staff members attend, at least two professional development training workshops a year. Lifelong learning is very important.
As the lead environmental educator here, it is also my responsibility to develop training workshops for teachers and students and then conduct them. Sometimes, I develop one-hour lessons to give in classrooms (as an "outside expert") and sometimes I plan much longer, 1ten-hour workshops. It takes about eight hours of planning for each hour of a workshop. This includes deciding on the topic, and audience level. Then writing or thinking through the script, collecting and making copies of resource materials and assembling the materials needed for the hands-on activities in the workshop. Since I am an environmental educator, I try to make sure that at least part of a workshop is conducted outdoors in the environment. Most of the workshops are conducted to train teachers and model the lessons that they can use with their students.
A neat organizational trick that I use is to collect all of the materials and original copies of handouts for a particular lesson in a plastic curbside recycling-type bin. Each bin is labeled with the name of a lesson and the bins are all kept in a storage room. This saves time when I have to do a lesson or workshop, as the materials are already assembled in one place. It makes my work more efficient. This also gives me more time to spend on improving each lesson. At the end of each lesson, I ask the attendees to submit an evaluation, and I use these evaluations to improve the lesson for the next group.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I much prefer the actual teaching of lessons and workshops to the program planning and budget management parts of the job. Teaching is energizing!
Sometimes I plan public events (like Earth Day celebrations) that might be attended by hundreds of people in one day. These are a lot of fun, but require a big team of planners to help carry out the event. These events also require writing news releases for the media, and following up with the media to attend the event, and report on its value for the attendees.
1. Be a life-long learner. Continue throughout your career with professional development, attending conferences in your field to network with other professionals.
2. Choose something you like to do as a volunteer. When a job comes open in that field, you will be aware of it (because of your connections) and if you are hired because of your experience, then you will be working in a job you love!
3. Be the three E's: energetic, enthusiastic, and ethical.
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