Grandfather Mountain hosts free environmental educator workshops

Last Updated on February 18, 2022 8:39 am

Grandfather Mountain invites educators to take advantage of its classroom in the clouds.

In 2022, the nonprofit nature park in Linville, N.C., will again offer a series of environmental educator certification programs. These courses are designed specifically for educators — not the general public — and most are free to attend.

“This is an opportunity to learn and have fun, while earning your certification as an environmental educator in North Carolina,” said John Caveny, director of education for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park.

Grandfather is offering credits for Criteria I, II and III programs, and courses include complimentary admission to the park for attendees.

The workshops will take place at Grandfather Mountain and may include some walking, so participants are encouraged to bring appropriate footwear and be prepared for inclement weather. Attendees are also asked to bring their own lunch, although there is a restaurant on site.

Each course is limited to 25 participants, and registration is required. To learn more and register, visit

The courses are as follows:

Project OWL
June 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Registration fee: $15 (covers course materials)

Project OWL (Outdoor Wonders and Learning), presented by the N.C. Arboretum and instructed by OWL coordinator Michelle Pearce, is a curriculum program that supports formal and non-formal educators with grades K-5 to deliver multi-disciplinary learning experiences in the outdoors. 

Educators gain skills and resources to facilitate engaging, inquiry-based lessons that meet N.C. Essential Standards and develop comfort with science and nature.

N.C. Environmental Education Certification Credit (NC EE): Criteria I, 6 hours (10 hours possible with homework option) and CEU credit are available.

For more information and to register, visit

WILD: Bears
July 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hosted by Tanya Poole, outreach education specialist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, WILD: Bears will focus on black bears in North Carolina.

A majority of the workshop will be spent learning about the life history and current research on black bears, as well as activities that can be incorporated into educators’ programs. Participants will also learn about the BearWise program and the Urban/Suburban Bear Study taking place in Asheville.

NC EE Certification Credit: Criteria II or III and CEU credit are available.

For more information and to register, visit

WILD About Elk
Aug. 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hosted by Poole, this workshop will teach participants about the life history and management of elk, as well as how to incorporate activities about elk into the N.C. Curriculum.

Participants will also get to meet the bull elk who call Grandfather Mountain home and what it takes to keep them healthy and happy.

Educators will be provided with the WILD About Elk Activity Guide upon completion of the workshop. NC EE Certification Credit: Criteria II or III and CEU credit are available upon completion of workshop, as well.

For more information and to register, visit

Sept. 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hosted by Grandfather Mountain education specialist Cassie Petrilla, BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning and Expertise Sharing) provides learning resources devoted to improving the quality of outdoor science education for field instructors, leaders and classroom teachers.

The BEETLES learning sessions encourage educators to look at specific aspects of research-based science pedagogy and inspire deeper thought about individuals’ teaching and learning.

Join Petrilla at Grandfather Mountain to discuss two of the BEETLES professional learning sessions, “Making Observations” and “Promoting Discussion,” and explore how to help students develop observational skills by encouraging curiosity and wonder, as well as ways to nurture discussion about observable science ideas and the benefits of discussion-based practices. 

NC EE Certification Credit: Criteria I, 6 hours and CEU credit are available.

For more information and to register, visit

About the Series

Grandfather Mountain started its Educator Workshop Series in 2018 as a way to offer Western North Carolina educators a nearby venue through which to achieve NC EE certification credit.

Such workshops were already being held on site for members of Grandfather Mountain’s education staff, who are required to possess NC EE certification. As a service to North Carolina educators, the park opened the courses to all teachers in the state pursuing environmental education certification — free of charge, with the exception of the occasional fee for material cost.

To learn more, visit

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325, or visit to plan a trip.

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