New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center received a $76,006 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes region Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, to engage teachers and students in a new “Niagara River/Lake Erie (NRLE) Classrooms” program.
“Inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards is an essential part of our efforts to protect and restore water quality and I commend NOAA for their support of this important initiative,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The Niagara River/Lake Erie Classrooms program will connect teachers and students with State experts and resources at DEC’s Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center to grow future environmental leaders and enhance our ongoing Great Lakes restoration efforts in the region. We congratulate the Friends of Reinstein Woods, the Institute for Research In Science Teaching, and the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper on this innovative program.”
Friends of Reinstein Woods President Terrence Boyle said, “For years, Friends of Reinstein Woods has worked with DEC to provide meaningful watershed education experiences for thousands of students. We are pleased that the NRLE Classroom program will increase student awareness and understanding of our water resources while strengthening their science skills.”
Institute for Research in Science Teaching (IRST) Director Michael Jabot said, “When teachers have the support of other educators, they can do amazing things. We’re excited that the NRLE Classroom program will join teachers across the watershed to share their skills and experience with each other, which will benefit their students both now and in the future.”
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Community Engagement Manager Elizabeth Cute said, “The NRLE Classrooms program will give teachers the resources they need to inspire their students to become champions of our local watersheds. We are thrilled to partner with DEC on this innovative program.”
DEC and its not-for-profit support organization Friends of Reinstein Woods will use the grant funds to connect at least 10 teachers and 100 students in grades 4-12 to the Niagara River/Lake Erie (NRLE) watershed. School districts within the watershed with high levels of economically disadvantaged students will be targeted for participation.
Teachers will participate in workshops and field trips led by DEC, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and SUNY Fredonia’s Institute for Research in Science Teaching to increase the educators’ understanding and awareness of environmental issues within the watershed. These teachers will form a network of NRLE Classrooms to encourage peer-to-peer conversations between teachers and students.
DEC and its partners will engage students in NRLE Classrooms in both indoor and outdoor learning during the 2022-2023 school year, including the “Day in the Life of the NRLE Watershed” annual event in which students collect data within their local watersheds for an international database. NRLE Classroom teachers and students also will receive funding and support to complete a stewardship project that benefits the watershed.
The program is designed to increase teacher confidence in leading these experiences, so that teachers will be able to engage future students with limited outside support.
More information about this and other programs for teachers offered by Reinstein Woods can be found on the “Educator Workshops” section here.
The NOAA B-WET program is a competitive grant program that promotes Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences: activities driven by rigorous academic learning standards that aim to increase participants’ understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ecosystems. To read more about the NOAA B-WET program, please visit here.
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