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Five new regional teams for the Earth to Sky Academy

[SYLVA] – Five regional teams were selected via a competitive selection process to join the 2022 Earth to Sky Academy.

Team Southern Appalachian Highlands is among the selected teams that will travel to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in October to participate in a week of training in NASA climate science, communication techniques and more. The team will work together to provide professional development opportunities for formal and informal educators in the Southern Appalachian region, particularly western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, through workshops that will train participants how to create and nurture a regional community of practice focused on improving climate science communication tailored to locally relevant issues.

In addition, the team will work to cultivate potential mentors for students who want to enter the teaching profession, the park service or other government agencies, and work with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to better understand their needs, build relationships and address indigenous ways of knowing about our environment.

Making up Team Southern Appalachian Highlands are: Susan Sachs, Education Branch Coordinator of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; Jason Carter, Assistant Director of The Science House; Keith Bamberger, Information and Communication Specialist of the North Carolina Division of Air Quality; and Randi Neff, Program Coordinator of the Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative. This team will serve in the Appalachian area, particularly western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

“I am very pleased that we were accepted to this national academy. The partnerships we will be developing with this team will benefit our region and provide opportunities for our young people,” said Neff.


About the Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative …

The Smoky Mountains STEM Collaborative (SMSC) is a partnership between Southwestern Community College and NASA under the cooperative agreement NNX16AB87A that aims to deliver science and STEM education to North Carolina communities. For more information about SMSC or the Earth to Sky Academy, please contact Randi Neff at

Because this is such a monumental STEM opportunity for our project coordinator and her teammates, as well as our community, I would like to submit this press release for publication at the earliest convenience.

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