Connecting all people with nature is a big priority for Triangle Land Conservancy. Barbara Goldentyer, Community Outreach and Education Associate at TLC, is working hard to do just that. Goldentyer comes to TLC as a Conservation Trust for North Carolina AmeriCorps Member with an extensive background working with youth in nature education programming. She holds a black belt in Tae kwon do and a Master’s Degree in Sociology from NC State University. Her graduate work concentrated on social inequalities, in which she examined gender inequalities in children’s sports. Before coming to TLC, Goldentyer worked at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve where she designed and ran nature education classes and summer camps.
Originally from Cary, Barbara began working with youth when she was in high school by volunteering with the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club in Wake County. “I always liked teaching and learning and connecting kids to things that are new and interesting,” Goldentyer explains. She is especially interested in promoting nature education programming that is accessible to everyone, with special attention to low-income and underserved communities. “I hope to help TLC establish an education program that will continue after my service term that gets kids and families outside. I’m really proud every time we get kids out the preserves who wouldn’t have necessarily visited on their own,” she says. Since joining the TLC team Goldentyer has taken the lead on building partnerships and programs that connect underserved youth with nature.
Two partnerships that are currently underway are with the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) and the Salvation Army. Triangle Land Conservancy is a proud recipient of funding through Merck’s Neighbor of Choice program which provides important funding for Goldentyer’s work and has made it possible for TLC develop these partnerships. Goldentyer will lead nature classes twice a week in a classroom setting in July and August for EDCI’s Summer Camp. Goldentyer explains “We’ll dissect owl pellets, handle a live corn snake, make insects out of construction paper and play some field games.” To conclude the classroom portion of the EDCI program Goldentyer will lead group outings to Horton Grove Nature Preserve where she will head up a guided hike with an informative conversation about the preserve as a wildlife habitat.
With the Salvation Army Summer Day Camp, Goldentyer will lead 4 fieldtrips to Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve that will include guided hikes and group scavenger hunts. “It’s fascinating to see kids thinking about nature as something that’s interesting and worth studying—many of the kids will have never really held or looked at an earthworm or millipede up close,” she says.
Goldentyer has also been busy at TLC leading its Get Wild! series of family friendly events at TLC different preserves. She describes “these are free events that are accessible to children and families, that are hands on, in the creek looking for crayfish, or frogs, or salamanders, or turtles and we also sneak some nature education in for good measure.” Goldentyer says “I hope the Get Wild! programs will help families discover cool activities they can do in nature, learn a little bit about our native plants and animals, and have enough fun that they want to come back and visit the preserves again.”
She explained that much of this programming is possible because of TLC’s amazing community of volunteers. TLC currently has 5 education volunteers and a new Education Intern from Partners for Youth Opportunities, Dakota Oats. Oats is a rising Junior at Durham School of the Arts. For more information on how you can get involved with these and other TLC programs visit https://triangleland.org/give/volunteer.