Chesapeake Bay cleanup and Pennsylvania watersheds aided by NOAA-funded task force to increase environmental literacy
AVONDALE, Pa. — Stroud Water Research Center recently entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office and Pennsylvania partners to improve and expand environmental literacy and watershed education and stewardship among Pennsylvania K-12 students and educators.
While Pennsylvania is home to 86,000 miles of streams and rivers, second most to only Alaska, many of them are degraded by pollution from agriculture, stormwater runoff, and insufficient wastewater management. In turn, Pennsylvania waterways provide an opportunity to contribute to watershed restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
In 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement outlined an “environmental literacy” plan that would educate citizens about their freshwater resources and how to protect them.
The Stroud Center–led project assembles a task force of representative leaders across the commonwealth to address environmental literacy. It does so by increasing the use of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) programming — that is, locally relevant, hands-on programs that promote experiential learning, critical thinking, and actions to improve freshwater resources.
The Pennsylvania Watershed Education Task Force brings together approximately 20 collaborators from a mix of state agencies, leading informal environmental education organizations, business and industry leaders in the environmental workforce, postsecondary institutions, and K-12 schools. On the leadership team, the Stroud Center is joined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators (PAEE), Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks, and Millersville University. The task force will meet and be present at the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association and PAEE conferences over the next three years. Individuals from around the commonwealth are encouraged to speak with task force members and explore resources at these events.
With a three-year grant from NOAA, the task force will expand partnerships for advancing environmental literacy, increase the number of NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant proposals, research and promote high-quality MWEEs, and provide training for approximately 400 watershed education professionals and traditional K-12 educators — all throughout the commonwealth.
Stroud Center Director of Education Steve Kerlin, Ph.D., the grant’s principal investigator, said, “One of the most exciting parts of this statewide capacity-building project is the establishment and strengthening of collaborative partnerships toward the shared goal of increasing environmental literacy.”
“Stroud Water Research Center — one of the three Pennsylvania projects receiving a total of about $300,000 in NOAA funding this year — helps implement high-quality K-12 environmental education programs. We’re proud to support projects like this that develop students into the next generation of scientists and Chesapeake Bay stewards,” said Sean Corson, acting director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.
“With 121 Pennsylvania State Parks and 2.2 million-acres of state forests, clean water is important to DCNR. Improving water quality, increasing the amount of healthy riparian buffer zones, and protecting high-value streams can only be accomplished by educating our citizenry about these issues,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “As a part of this grant, DCNR will be utilizing our award-winning Watershed Education curriculum and the nationally recognized Project WET curriculum in order to educate teachers about the value of clean water. Through teachers, we reach thousands of Pennsylvania students who hold the future of water in their hands.”
“Millersville University’s Watershed Education Training Institute is pleased to partner with Stroud Water Research Center’s NOAA grant–funded project to improve K-12 students’ environmental literacy and stewardship. The project intends to build capacity across the commonwealth to offer high-impact environmental programming. As a member of the project’s PA Watershed Education Task Force Leadership Board, I look forward to connecting with a diverse group of stakeholders with a shared mission to advance environmental literacy in Pennsylvania,” said Nanette Marcum-Dietrich, Ph.D., WETI co-coordinator and professor at Millersville University.
John Wallace, Ph.D., professor at Millersville University and founder of WETI, said, “To date, WETI has cultivated a strong and valuable collaboration with Stroud Water Research Center on a variety of watershed education programs. The multistate NOAA-funded grant focused on a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience that includes a diverse suite of collaborating agencies, organizations and schools is in line with the WETI mission of fostering watershed stewardship via innovative science-based programs. As co-coordinator and founder of WETI, I applaud and congratulate Dr. Nanette Marcum-Dietrich and our Stroud Center partners in this award and look forward to the training this grant provides in the education of our future watershed ambassadors.”
About Stroud Water Research Center
Stroud Water Research Center seeks to advance knowledge and stewardship of freshwater systems through global research, education, and watershed restoration and to help businesses, landowners, policymakers, and individuals make informed decisions that affect water quality and availability around the world. Stroud Water Research Center is an independent, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.