Elizabeth Swafford, Recycling and Education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority, and executive director of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, has earned the distinction of certified environmental educator. After completing a two and a half year study she received one of the first certifications for ATEEG, Advanced Training for Environmental Education in Georgia.
This professional certification program is offered by the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia.
Ms. Swafford was recognized at the 2013 Environmental Education Alliance’s Annual Conference along with other educators who successfully completed the program, which is nationally accredited by the North American Association for Environmental Education. The ATEEG certification required 30 hours of specialization workshops, completing three core courses, and an independent study project. The courses focused on the foundations of environmental education, fostering learning, and assessment and evaluation.
This certification is of benefit to educators in the state who want to be recognized as a leader in the field of environmental education and gain credibility for the profession that is reflected in various career paths, officials said. Educators can range from those in formal settings, such as a science teacher in a public school, to those working in non-formal educational settings like a nature center. Swafford is a non-formal educator who teaches local students about recycling, the landfill, and other environmental topics through her work at the DWSWA and KDWB.
Ms. Swafford’s independent study project, Recycling Ben’s Sidekick Training, was designed to train third graders to become recycling superheroes. During the special four hour program students made upcycled name tags, toured the landfill and recycling center in Whitfield County, made an edible model of a landfill, completed a recycling relay race, and met mascot Recycling Ben. The project included all aspects of the ATEEG program, including components for assessment and evaluation. The special training is now part of the regular educational opportunities offered at the facility.