Public Education

Public Education and Community Outreach 

Before returning to graduate school, I served as an environmental educator for several local organizations. While working with those groups, I had the opportunity to educate diverse audiences on wildlife species native to North Carolina (including the Virginia opposum and American alligator featured here!). I worked hard to teach relevant, interesting content and engage the audience in the discussions. I worked with audiences young and old, with various abilities, and a wide spread of interests. I helped each individual connect to the natural world in some way and find value in nature. 

I created educational programs focusing on many topics and engaged the public as much as possible. Click here to see a short news interview about one of my programs - Foraging in the Forest! 

Leading a bird-window collision program at the 2022 North Carolina Audubon Summit  © Luke Franke

Since returning to graduate school, I have continued to engage with and provide educational opportunities to different communities. This includes leading programs and giving talks for local organizations, classes, and K-12 schools. 

I am a North Carolina certified beekeeper and here you see me harvesting honey from a beehive. I try to provide hands on opportunities for students to learn as often as possible. 

While assisting with beehive management, I helped mentor and educate those interested in beekeeping. I also used beehives as an educational tool to teach people about honey bees. 

I enjoy meeting the student wherever they are, even if that means teaching in the car! Even those that consider themselves "not nature people" can get interested. 

Student Engagement Through University Organizations and Events

I find it incredibly important to provide opportunities to students (in higher education and otherwise) to get engaged in different opportunities. 

Research Opportunities 

During my undergraduate years, I was given the opportunity to get involved in research, and I think it is important to provide the same opportunities to other students. Approximately 70-80 university students have assisted with my various research projects, many through the bird-window collision monitoring. Several students have received funding from UNC Charlotte to assist with these research projects and have gone on to present the findings at conferences. 

Student Organizations 

I am currently involved with two student organizations at UNC Charlotte that provide educational and personal growth opportunities to students. 

I helped co-found the UNC Charlotte Audubon Campus Chapter with two other students. This organization has allowed us to provide opportunities for students to get engaged in research, events, advocacy, and conservation. One event that we participate in each year is the North Carolina Audubon Advocacy Day, during which Audubon members from across the state meet with lawmakers to discuss environmentally friendly legislation. In 2023, three UNC Charlotte students met with their representatives in the NC General Assembly for Advocacy Day. One of the students, a political science major, attended the event and one of their professors encouraged them to present their analysis of the lobbying to the class!

I have also been assisting with the UNC Charlotte student organization Expanding Your Horizons. This group organizes an annual event to expose girls in middle school to STEM activities and careers. 

15-20 students helped us monitor vulture roosting attendance by surveying sites such as this. Read more about this research on the research tab or by clicking the link above! 

Trivia night organized by the UNC Charlotte Audubon Campus Chapter in collaboration with two other student organizations.