Project: History of the NCO Replicable Model Grant
Professional Development

There are many environmental education opportunities out there for teachers and their students, but this does not always translate into students spending more time learning in the out-of-doors.  Many educators are not comfortable taking their students outside and have concerns about student behavior, their own knowledge of content, or think their schoolyard does not have an adequate outdoor learning area.  Current research indicates that there are many benefits, both academically and behaviorally, to outdoor learning opportunities. UNC-TV applied for and was granted a PBSKIDS GO! Outreach Replication Grant from the National Center for Outreach (NCO) /Corporate Public Broadcasting (CPB).  UNC-TV partnered with the Office of Environmental Education, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and UNC Chapel Hill's Carolina Environmental Program to create a national replication model workshop that would encourage teachers to incorporate outdoor, inquiry-based learning into the (NC) Standard Course of Study and become comfortable taking their students outside.  The workshop is titled, "You Have an Outdoor Classroom! How Can You Use It? - Inquiry-Based Learning in the Schoolyard."  Participants will springboard from the PBSKIDS GO! website.

The workshop is an exciting, innovative, and interactive model that leads you through several activities involving nature observation, nature journaling, and experimentation and reading.

Leading the workshop were Marty Wiggins and Rachel Golden from the Office of Environmental Education at NC DENR, Elissa Totin from the UNC-Chapel Hill Carolina Environmental Program, Kelly Leovic and Donna Rogers from EPA, and Dr. Merle Price, Rosemary Hallberg, and Pamela Hines, from the Programming and Educational Outreach and Communication Department at UNC-TV.

This partnership serves a three-fold purpose: besides offering this replicable model workshop for teachers across North Carolina and developing a national model for partnerships between public television stations and agencies in other states.  The Outdoor Classroom workshop also provides environmental education credits to North Carolina. Using the community of learners model, visits were made by UNC-TV staff to school to introduce materials and engage learners on many levels through outdoor exploration, through the web, through group and individual activities, through books, and selected PBS instructional programs.

Special thanks to the Rocky Mount Children's Museum and Science Center who graciously provided the space for the February 10, 2006 training for teachers; EPA/RTP for providing the space, binders and certificates for both workshops that were conducted on February 10, 2006 and February 27, 2006; the UNC-TV Design Department for creating the Outdoor Classroom canvas bags; and UNC-TV Communications for continual support throughout the project.

What is the National Center For Outreach?
NCO's overriding goal is to assist PBS stations to provide meaningful outreach to local communities, helping to foster and deepen existing community partnerships by:

    • Supporting PBS stations' outreach missions

    • Communicating pipeline opportunities

    • Advancing best practices and sharing resources.

    • Training new and experienced public broadcasting professionals

    • Funding local outreach with annual grants.

    • Organizing national meetings to enhance local outreach

MuseumOutreach is a key component that sets public television apart from its commercial counterpart. It is public television’s service arm that purposefully extends the impact of broadcasts by giving them legs into the local community. Most notable to outreach is its ability to bring people together in person before, during or after a broadcast: a power unique to public television outreach.
Public Television is able to provide outreach because of its unique structure: a public service media able to broadcast nationally, while encouraging action locally. Outreach bridges the gap between community concerns and what’s on TV by providing opportunities to engage and learn more. Most often, outreach is defined in the following ways:

Community outreach extends the impact of public broadcasting through a variety of media services, educational materials and collaborative activities. Efforts are always in partnership with other community organizations and are designed to engage individuals and foster community participation. Most often initiatives address specific issues of importance and are targeted to a particular segment of the population.

museumMuseumEducational outreach refers to activities that support formal or classroom-based education, as well as informal education that occur outside the classroom. Educational outreach campaigns provide educational experiences for young people in classrooms, libraries, community-based organizations, etc., as well as supporting the professional development of the adults who work with them.

Ready To Learn is PBS's nationwide effort to ensure all America's children are prepared for educational success. Funding is provided from the U.S. Department of Education through the Public Broadcasting Service. Ready To Learn service provides on air, online and print resources and local support to help parents and early childhood educators prepare children for success in school.  UNC-TV is a local Ready To Learn station.

(Taken from National Center of Outreach website)