NOAA B-WET Funded Project Helps Engage Hundreds of Local Students in the Watershed
Flint, MI.May 1, 2019 – The Flint River Watershed Coalition (FRWC) is pleased to announce it has received a $74,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET). These funds will support the development and implementation of Flint River Green Bridges, a considerable expansion to the existing Flint River GREEN water quality monitoring program implemented in 22 local school districts that reaches over 1,200 students each year.
The program expansion will bridge communities, classrooms, curriculum, and careers. “This place-based stewardship education program will empower youth to draw on personal experiences to shift their relationship to and understanding of our water resources, particularly with the Flint River” states program manager, Autumn Mitchell.
FRWC Executive Director Rebecca Fedewa adds “We’re very excited to bring this expanded program to the students and teachers of the Flint River Watershed. Bridges will ensure our students have access to cutting edge curriculum that helps prepare them for academic success while encouraging the next generation of stewards of our water resources.”
Flint River Green Bridges will fully immerse students in Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) that allow them to identify and investigate locally relevant water quality topics and participate in outdoor field research. (MWEEs are multi-stage activities that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom, and aim to increase the environmental literacy of all participants.) Students will apply the knowledge they gain through stewardship action projects they design and lead and then share their experiences back with parents, students from other schools, decision makers, and community leaders at the annual GREEN Student Summit. Bridge students will explore their connection to local and global waterways, contribute to ongoing data collection, and learn about possible career trajectories in science, technology, community engagement, and project management.
The expanded program will begin with the roll out of a 10-week cross-curricular unit of study for teachers. Core to the 18-month project is a partnership with UM-Flint's Discovering PLACE, the Flint hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, which will enhance teacher training and support the implementation of MWEEs with students. A pilot group of 6th - 8th grade teachers from 7 schools will implement the program during the 2019 - 2020 school year. Other schools within the Flint River watershed will have access to the materials and training in subsequent years. All resources developed through this grant will be publicly available online for anyone interested in implementing a similar program in other watersheds.
James Hall, 8th grade science teacher at Hamady Middle School comments, “This will be a great opportunity to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) while giving students a chance to think critically about water quality issues.” Tammy Wylie, 7th grade science teacher also at Hamady adds, “This new curriculum will allow teachers to not only meet the NGSS and state standards, but will also allow classrooms to actively engage in place-based learning through activities and action projects.” Both teachers plan on participating in the program and working as a team to do MWEEs with their students. Other teachers interested in participating in this program pilot for the 2019-2020 school year should contact Autumn Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
NOAA’s 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’s B-WET program, please visit http://www.noaa.gov/office-education/bwet.
Discovering PLACE at UM-Flint works to advance and support place-based education initiatives in this region. The hub is a collective of Flint-area K-12 schools, university faculty and staff, community organizations, and parents working to connect young people to their communities. https://www.umflint.edu/outreach/discovering-place
The Flint River Watershed Coalition seeks a healthy, vibrant, active Flint River watershed for all. We work in partnership to protect, promote, and improve the Flint River and its watershed. To learn more about the FRWC and the existing Flint River GREEN program, please visit www.FlintRiver.org