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N.C. Environment Teachers Get Lessons

September 8, 2003

BROWNS SUMMIT, N.C. (AP) _ Environmental educators laying flat on their stomach on a boardwalk, their noses inches over a marsh, dragged netted scoops through the water and inspected what came up.

``There’s a little something crawling across the bottom,″ Bianca Bradford, an outreach specialist with the state Wildlife Resources Commission, said after bringing up her scoop. ``There’s probably some larva in there, too, that I can’t identify.″

She was part of a small group of environmental educators on a wetlands field trip that was part of the 13th annual Environmental Educators of North Carolina conference.

The three-day conference at the wooded, 220-acre Browns Summit campus of the Agape Center for Environmental Education began Saturday and was to end Monday.

The wetlands group was looking for microinvertebrates _ critters without backbones that you can see in the water with the unaided eye. The teachers would later look at their catches under a microscope and try to identify what they found before returning them to the water.

The exercise illustrated the importance of wetlands, which nurture fish, help purify water and help control flooding.

The conference’s 95 participants could chose from other field trips including to the North Carolina Zoo outside Asheboro and Greensboro’s Natural Science Center. The conference also included workshops, networking opportunities and classroom sessions that expose teachers to new techniques.

``We’re trying to provide opportunities for educators to learn more about their field through nature programs,″ said Deb Hall of Beaufort, the conference’s chairwoman and president-elect of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina.

Participants came from North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. They are high school teachers as well as educators who train teachers and offer classes to people interested in the environment.

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