Education is the cornerstone of my career. At Temple University, as Adjunct Associate Professor, I teach the Science of Sustainable Design and Botanical Traditions. My SSD students design sustainable communities for everyone in the ecosystem. My BT students create medicinal gardens and learn how to practice plant medicine traditions.
Over the course of my career, I have taught every grade from pre-school through college, including formal classroom, but mostly informal field education. H.O.P.E. for Ecological Literacy is the core of my education practice and pedagogy.
I define Ecological literacy as the understanding that everything and everyone is connected, all our actions have consequences and all consequences are cumulative. This is the Law of Unity.
Through Earth Visions consulting, I connect children and educators with the landscape by providing experience, tools and resources for educators to independently integrate nature into their curriculum.
My previous career work includes water quality assessment for EPA, stormwater management for Montgomery County, MD, conservation easement monitoring for the Brandywine Conservancy, scientist-in-residence for the Downingtown Area School District, Executive Director of the Chester County, PA Land Preservation Program and Agricultural Development Council, co-creator of the Lionville Natural Pharmacy's Health Food Store and Holistic Health Center and ED of the Land Trust of Bucks County.
I credit my career as an environmental scientist and educator to my father who led the way.
Botanical Energetics is my therapy practice. I have been planting Wellness since 1999
I am one of 170 Registered Bach Flower Practitioners in the United States. Flower Essence Therapy is an application of herbal medicine that addresses our emotional and mental health. Anxiety, depression, grief and trauma are some of the conditions released in the process of restoring balance and vitality.
My flower essence training includes the Bach Flower Essences with the Bach Foundation, the North American Essences with the Flower Essence Society in California, the Alaskan Essences with Jane Bell and Steve Johnson in Homer, Alaska and Delta Gardens with David Dalton.
My therapy practice is local and national/international. My practice is rooted in science, education, experience and a life-long attention to and understanding of the language of the plants.
Through Botanical Energetics my hope is to spread peace. I love helping people heal their wounded hearts and help them be all they can BE with Botanical Energetics.
MAEd, Environmental Education, Graduate Honors/Distinction
PA Teaching Certifications in Environmental Education, Biology, Earth/Space Science & General Science
University of Maryland College Park, MD
Bachelor of Science in Agronomy ‑ Soil & Water Conservation
Pennsylvania State University,
Environmental Resource Management, Academic Dean's List
Cornell University ~ Environmental Education in Urban Communities Certificate
Land Trust of Bucks County
Program administration, easement acquisition, monitoring program, membership, fundraising and development coordination, creation and execution of stewardship, education, and community outreach initiatives, strategic plan development and implementation.
Temple University, Department of Landscape Architecture & Horticulture
The Environment, Science of Sustainable Design, Plant Ecology, Botanical Traditions; Botanical Traditions Garden design, implementation and management.
West Chester University
Education for Sustainability, Outdoor Classroom Design, Development and Use.
Longwood Gardens, Professional Gardener Program
Medicinal Plant Practicum
Lionville Middle School
Teacher Practicum Environmental Science & Biology 7th Grade
Downingtown Area School District
GLOBE Implementation (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) DASD Middle Schools.
Hands-on atmosphere, hydrology, soils & biology investigations. Program development and instruction.
Chester County, PA Agricultural Land Preservation Program & Agricultural Development Council
Management and execution of Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and Agricultural Development Council mandates. Coordinated easement purchase process; evaluated easement applications; assisted farmers, title companies, financial institutions, attorneys, surveyors and municipalities; prepared and conducted presentations to County and State Boards; developed easement monitoring protocol, inspected easement properties; collaborated with NRCS and Conservation District on conservation plan preparation, review and enforcement, maintained ASA database.
Brandywine Conservancy, Environmental Management Center, Chadds Ford, PA
Conservation Easement Monitoring Administrator
Managed easement monitoring program for 20,000 acres.
Developed easement file system, including easement monitoring files; inspected easement properties for compliance/land management practices; developed aerial monitoring program. Produced Land Stewardship Newsletter.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Central Regional Laboratory, Annapolis, MD
Inspected industrial, municipal and federal facilities for compliance with EPA permit requirements under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Toxic Substance Control Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Conducted field investigations including collection, preparation and chemical analyses of surface water, ground water, sediment and tissue samples. Interpretation and analysis of Estuarine Mathematical Model, used to predict and reduce levels of eutrophication in the Potomac River. Certified to perform Visible Emissions Inspections.
Department of Environmental Protection, Montgomery County, MD Pollution Control Division
Reviewed sediment and erosion control plans and subdivision plans for storm water management.
Maintained development and floodplain alteration inventory.
Conducted research on effects of storm water management structures on stream flow rates and flooding patterns in the Potomac River Watershed: Research Report “The Effects of Urbanization on Watershed Drainage Patterns and Impact of a Storm Water Management Impoundment on Stream Elevation and Discharge”.
Maintained rain/stream gauges; collected and interpreted field recorded rain and stream gauge data.
General Electric Aerospace Division/ NASA, Greenbelt, MD
Evaluated and analyzed computer enhanced Landsat data. Aerial and Skylab photo interpretation.
Memberships and Volunteer Accomplishments:
Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Annapolis, MD: Environmental Educator.
Save Our Streams, Anne Arundel County, MD: Conducted sediment and erosion control inspections on construction sites; coordinated remediation with MD DER.
Sierra Club, MD: Lobbyist for Potomac Chapter. Lifetime member.
Charlestown Nature Center, Charlestown, PA: Environmental Educator.
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
Brandywine Valley Association, West Chester, PA: Environmental Educator.
Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center and CSA, Glenmoore, PA, Environmental Educator.
Green Valleys Association: Environmental Educator
My father gave me the gift of roots. Dad and I covered every square inch of our local forest ...trout fishing, skiing, foraging, photographing wildflowers, catching night crawlers, pheasant hunting, star gazing, animal tracking, watching the sun set from our favorite fishing hole and perched on Counsel Rock quietly listening to the unspoken language of nature.
My father planted an environmental ethic deep within my heart and watered it every day. In that tradition, I plant seeds and water as best as I can.
My education philosophy reflects my roots and the work of John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky and Rachel Carson and embraces the premise that experience is central to education. This experience must be meaningful to every student, incorporate social interaction and cultural relevance (Noddings, p.31).
H.O.P.E. for ecological literacy is the basis of my philosophy and pedagogy. Through hands-on outdoor place-based education, students develop the skills and leadership qualities to critically assess and solve problems, understand their relationship with natural communities and collectively work toward a sustainable future.
“It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.” Rachel Carson (1956)
When teachers highlight a student’s relationship with the ecological community, they introduce personal meaning into education, empower students to use strengths in an environment that holds relevance to their lives, use this culture as a bridge for learning and offer students the opportunity to challenge thought patterns and become part of the solution to social and environmental inequities.
My education philosophy is one of unification where students learn about themselves, all of the others and the ecosphere through observation, research, discussion and inquiry in a meaningful, experiential and social context. A perpetual thirst for understanding, expanded knowledge and evolving concepts and conclusions about their role in the biosphere are the endpoints of a culturally relevant pedagogy rooted in exploration.
By using the environment as a foundational context for education, students develop a deeper understanding of and respect for the earth communities, including the corresponding human conditions within those communities.
I believe education must reveal the intimate interrelationship between personal and planetary health and develop leadership skills and opportunities for discovering solutions. Through active participation in environment-based education, reflective inquiry and experience in cooperative problem solving, youth can be empowered with the knowledge that they can make a difference in the world and develop the ability to exercise that knowledge wisely.
It is my hope that in this process of discovery, using nature as a basis for education, students embrace a lifetime of creative investigation rooted in an affinity for nature and a sense of responsibility for sustaining biological diversity for everyone.
Carson, R. (1956). The Sense of Wonder. New York: Harper & Row.
Noddings, N. (2007). Philosophy of Education. Boulder: Westview Press.
Namrutha Kanakavelan and The Science of Sustainable Design
After being burned out from the past 17 years of schooling, my excitement for learning has dwindled from a passion to a means of surviving. The want to learn has disappeared and has been replaced with a need to pass, so it has been a long time since I so passionately have taken interest in a class. When a long day of finance courses were done with, I looked forward to relaxing and enjoying the coursework for Sustainable Design. I have yet to feel this excitement and relaxation while taking a class in years.
I would not confidently say math is exactly my strongest subject, even though I am a finance major. However, I can very confidently say that science is my weakest subject. So the whole concept of having to take two science general education courses was a little daunting for me. However, it was inevitable, so I decided to take an asynchronous science gen-ed course to fulfill the last of my general education courses for my degree.
I went into this class just hoping to get through it and pass with a decent grade. However, I did not realize that this was going to be a class that I would look forward to and eventually changed my perspective on the way the world works. My professor Charlene Briggs, did an amazing job of making this asynchronous class both enjoyable and very flexible.
During the entirety of the course, it felt like the class was composed of fun movies, interesting readings, and thought provoking projects. What I hadn’t realized was how much I was learning during the process. It was an effortless learning, something that was like breathing. The learning process was so relaxed and so natural, and the best part was that the entire course was designed around a very interesting and prevalent topic: sustainability.
Even having taken this class over a year ago, I still rewatch the movies that were assigned for this class. They have changed my perspective on the produce industry, the dangers of Earth’s natural formations, and the plethora of sustainable ways of living. I keep many of these concepts in mind just doing everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, traveling to work, or using certain products.
Professor Briggs, took what would have been seen as an inconvenience, and turned it into a very enjoyable process. She not only was able to make this class educational, but did so in a very nonchalant and relaxed manner. The stresses of exams, projects, and quizzes were not burdens for her students. Rather we were given the chance to exhibit our knowledge and opinions through discussion boards and papers that were designed for students to relate our course material with the real world. What she expected to be a paragraph or so would often be numerous due the fact that the students were eager to discuss our learnings.She is to be heavily applauded for her hard work and experienced teaching methods.
The materials I have learned from this course are something I carry and will continue to carry with me for the rest of my life. 100% of this credit is to Professor Briggs and the Gen-Ed department for designing such an amazing course.