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Four New Projects for New England B-WET Starting in 2017

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We are excited to announce the selection of four new New England B-WET projects for 2017 funding: In Connecticut, we welcome SoundWaters Inc.’s Long Island Sound Oyster Investigation; in Rhode Island, Save The Bay’s Narragansett Bay Field Studies; in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Audubon, Inc.’s Science for Solutions; and in Maine the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Building Sustainable Regional Capacity. See below for more information about these great new projects, and join us in congratulating these successful applicants!

What is New England B-WET?

NOAA B-WET is a competitive environmental education grant program that promotes locally relevant, authentic experiential learning focused on teachers and K–12 audiences. The program’s mission? “To promote environmental literacy in society so citizens exhibit behaviors that protect and restore watersheds and related ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.” Using proven best practices that we call Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs), we hope to help today’s students become tomorrow’s stewards.

Here in the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, we administer New England B-WET, one of the seven regional programs. Since 2008, we have awarded more than $5 million dollars to education providers and schools within the six New England states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. This program has reached hundreds of teachers and more than 15,000 students with high quality environmental education programs. New England B-WET fosters the growth of new, innovative programs and encourages capacity-building and environmental education partnerships. Funded projects advance ocean, climate, and other environmental literacy principles and incorporate the goals of the NOAA Education Strategic Plan, as well as regionally focused priorities. These multi-year projects provide New England students with hands-on environmental education in their watersheds and also provide their formal K-12 teachers and administrators with professional development and support while they learn to implement MWEEs with their classes.

What are our 2017 selected grantees planning?


SoundWaters

Long Island Sound Oyster Investigation: Coastal Community Resiliency Through Locally Relevant Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences for High School Students and Their Teachers (FY 2017 Request: $63,894)

This three-year project (August 2017 through July 2020) will engage 300 high school students and 12 teachers from an urban school district in interrelated meaningful watershed education experiences, stewardship activities, and professional development.

The City of Stamford is a diverse, coastal, urban community on Long Island Sound. SoundWaters’ Long Island Sound Oyster Investigation will focus on fisheries management and community and coastal watershed’s resiliency through oyster reef development and stewardship of this delicate ecosystem. Field work will include observations of the existing NOAA Milford shellfish hatchery, as well as participation in and exploration of existing oyster aquaculture and fishing operations conducted by permitted Stamford oystermen. Additionally, SoundWaters Inc. will conduct small-scale experiments with a few oyster flats from the SoundWaters’ dock in Stamford Harbor.

This project will be integrated into the high school science curriculum and align with NOAA’s Education Strategic Plan and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Teachers and students will gain knowledge of, and appreciation for, the economic, cultural, physical, geological, and historical influences of oyster farming and will learn what oysters and the oyster fishery can contribute to preserve a thriving and healthy coastal and watershed habitat for Long Island Sound.

SoundWaters is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with NOAA and B-WET on this project – it is about oysters and students and teachers and Long Island Sound and actual oystermen and – ultimately – about bringing all the pieces together to engage, train and inspire the next generation to understand the potential and problems facing our city and our coastline. The students will learn to partner, innovate, and develop new solutions to sustain our watershed. This simply would not be possible without the investment and support of B-WET and we look forward to our work together!”  - Leigh Shemitz, President, SoundWaters

 

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Save The Bay

Narragansett Bay Field Studies: How Healthy is Your Local Urban Ecosystem? (FY 2017 Request: $79,213)

Group of students walking into the fields with field equipment

This three-year project runs from August, 2017 to July, 2020 to integrate Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) into high school science curriculum and teacher professional development. Three hundred students from three underserved, urban high schools and up to 10 of their teachers will be engaged in authentic investigation, restoration, and stewardship opportunities in their communities. Each year, Save The Bay will engage eight to ten high school science teachers and 100 low-income, underserved, urban youth in high-impact, intensive, hands-on learning in the classroom and the field. Teachers will be trained to integrate watershed conservation and stewardship concepts and activities into their programs. Students will research and present findings related to the guiding question: How healthy is your local urban ecosystem?

Each year-long, intensive program will investigate the watershed starting on school grounds, continuing into the local community (e.g. local marsh, rivers, pond), and into the Bay and ocean. Teachers and up to ten high schoolers will be provided with discrete, high-quality, professional development (the four-day NBFS Summer Institute) that combines traditional professional development with bay-related field experiences. Students will explore and monitor their school and surrounding grounds and ecosystem; study human impacts on the environment; identify environmental issues and potential solutions; complete habitat restoration projects; and educate their communities and municipal leaders about the health of their ecosystem and watershed. In-class learning, coupled with field experiences and community engagement, will help students develop a complete understanding of how they are connected to the local, urban ecosystem and the Narragansett Bay watershed and how decisions they make impact the local, regional, and global environment. Participating students and teachers will visit Prudence Island, home to NOAA’S Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.


“Save The Bay is grateful to NOAA/BWET for funding our Narragansett Bay Field Studies program. The NBFS program connects some of RI's most urban students to their Bay through their watershed. The hands-on, real world experiences these students and teachers will be participating in will deeply connect them to their local environment and show them that their individual actions can make change in their community.” - Bridget Prescott, Director of Education

Massachusetts Audubon Society

Science for Solution (FY 2017 Request: $56,999)

This is a three-year program that will be conducted from September 2017 to August 2020. Mass Audubon will deploy a robust partner network of schools and conservation partners, and use NOAA assets to work in schools in at least four distinct watersheds in Massachusetts. The project will provide meaningful watershed education training and experiences for educators and students to increase the knowledge and hands-on experience related to open watershed flow and connectivity, the role of diadromous fish within these systems, and activities that support stewardship and action for healthy watersheds. Using NOAA assets to integrate watershed training and climate change science into existing science high school classes, Science for Solutions will create in-depth engagement opportunities for students and teachers. In addition to investigations of their local watersheds, students and teachers will explore a former NOAA restoration site at Tidmarsh Farm to monitor river herring and participate in these and other existing conservation and restoration projects related to watersheds, wetlands, and fish connectivity.

Over the course of three years, the project will improve the watershed literacy of 24 teachers through professional development programs offered in partnership with scientists, including members of the MIT NOAA Sea Grant program, conservation partners, and municipal officials. At least 720 students will be reached directly through this program through classroom, field, and community outreach activities. Participating teachers will receive training, curriculum planning support, collaborative programming for students, and coaching. Students and teachers will engage local conservation leaders and officials to help students learn how to effectively approach civic engagement using tools from NOAA’s Climate Resilience Toolkit.


"Mass Audubon is thrilled and grateful to have been selected a 2017 NOAA B-WET Grantee, so that we can work with partners in education, research, and conservation to inspire youth in learning about and protecting the watershed in their community. Our goal is to build young conservation leaders—ready to apply new scientific understanding about local watersheds and the species that depend on them to ensure their conservation. We are excited about how ‘Science for Solutions’ can engage students and their teachers, and look forward to the resulting benefits for watersheds and the natural and social communities that depend on their health and resilience.” - Kris Scopinich, Director of Education

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Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Building Sustainable Regional Capacity (FY 2017 Request: $75,328)

Three students counting seaweed using PVC quadrant

This three-year capacity-building project will occur between August 2017 and July 2020. The goal is to advance a model for building sustainable regional teacher leadership and professional development capacity to support continuing cycles of improvement in science teachers’ practice. GMRI will build Regional Teacher Communities. Staff and partners will collaborate with local Lead Educators as they support a regional group of teachers to incorporate learning experiences aligned with the MWEE principles in their classrooms. GMRI has established a pilot Regional Teacher Community in Western Maine. This community-focused model creates a persistent structure to increase teacher knowledge and improve classroom practice. There is only a small field component because it responds to a grant priority related to increasing state-wide understanding and implementation of meaningful watershed education programming in Maine.

Project participants will include teachers of grades 5-8 in rural regions of Maine, specifically Oxford, Franklin, and Washington counties. The project will build the leadership capacity of Lead Educators, who will each work with approximately 15 teachers for a total of 30 teachers. It is anticipated that each year, approximately 450 students of participating teachers will be offered locally relevant Meaningful Watershed Education Experience that will include field investigation and stewardship projects.


GMRI is thrilled to partner with NOAA through this B-WET grant to support exemplary watershed education in Maine. This funding will allow us to improve and replicate a collaborative model of teacher leadership and peer-to-peer learning that supports middle school teachers who want to include authentic scientific investigations in their teaching." -  Leigh Peake, Chief Education Officer

What do B-WET projects look like when implemented?

We look forward to seeing our new projects unfold. Because they are designed to be place-based and to incorporate the interests and inquiries of participating teachers and students, every project is unique! For some examples, check out projects funded through grants awarded in 2015 and 2016 that are still active.

In Connecticut:

In Massachusetts:

In Gulf of Maine Perimeter States: