After studying Environmental Sciences at the Van Hall Institute in Groningen, Carlien started working at the National Institute for Coast and Sea in Middelburg.
There she participated in research on eutrophication of the North Sea. After a few years, she joined the Dienst Landelijk Gebied in Goes. There she dealt with environmental issues within land consolidation programs. While working at this service, she realized that she wanted to be more involved in education, especially in the field of nature and environmental education.
In 1997, she joined the Aquatic Ecotechnology program at HZ, where she became more proficient in working with students and teaching. From 2004, she started teaching Nature, Science and Technology at HZ's Pabo. In 2014, she earned her master's degree in Learning and Innovation, where she did her graduate research on opportunities for N&T within Outdoor Education.
In addition to involvement in the development and use of green play and learning environments, her focus within HZ is increasingly on coordinating and coaching interdisciplinary work and action research. The minor Becoming Fit for the Future is an example of this.