New Partnership to Strengthen Environmental Education in Lancaster County

800 600 Stroud Water Research Center

Reprinted from a Chesapeake Bay Foundation – Pennsylvania press release. Contact CBF–PA Communications and Media Coordinator B.J. Small at 717-200-4521 for more information.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has unveiled a new program designed to work with educational and conservation partners to connect students and teachers in Lancaster County to fun and meaningful learning opportunities outdoors.

Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) support high quality teaching and learning by actively engaging students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on experiences. These multi‐stage activities have a goal of increasing understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ecosystems.

The new Outdoor Learning Network Initiative (OLNI) is a partnership of the Conestoga Valley, Ephrata Area, and Columbia Borough school districts, Millersville University, Lancaster County Conservation District, and Stroud Water Research Center. OLNI partners met at Conestoga Valley High School recently to review goals, expectations, and roles of each participating group.

“Building strong networks and partnerships for our school systems to work with will ensure that environmental literacy programs are sustained in Pennsylvania schools,” said Tarrea Potter, CBF’s Education Outreach Educator in Pennsylvania. “This framework provides our learners and leaders of tomorrow with a positive example of collaboration and working together for a common goal.”

The current OLNI project will continue through Spring of 2021. It is being funded and organized by the Pisces Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network.

“In education, we are asked to teach collaboration,” said Dan Daneker, K-12 subject supervisor for Science and Technology at the Conestoga Valley School District. “What better example is there of collaboration than this grant? This was a team effort and a great start to a collaboration that will benefit the students of south central PA.”

“The program will benefit our students and the health of our local watershed,” said Dr. Nanette Dietrich, Educational Foundations professor at Millersville University. “The University’s Watershed Education Training Institute is excited to continue our partnership with the Conestoga Valley School District and the Stroud Water Research Center with a shared mission of protecting our local watershed through education and civic action.”

“The end goal of the program is to be able to apply this framework for partnerships in other places to improve environmental education and literacy in Pennsylvania,” Tarrea Potter added. “Studies have shown that environmental education improves academic performance, increases civic engagement, and instills a belief that individuals can make a difference.”

Learn More

  • Contact Steve Kerlin, Ph.D., director of education, Stroud Water Research Center, about MWEE trainings.
  • Click below to watch a Comcast Newsmakers interview with Dr. Nanette Dietrich about the OLNI grant.