2022 Great Lakes B-WET Awards


Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan: Preventing Marine Debris Today for Healthy Waters Tomorrow

The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan will partner with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative to apply place-based stewardship education practices to engage teachers, students and their communities in meaningful watershed educational experiences (MWEEs) focusing on marine debris prevention. This project will engage more than 800 students in grades K-12 and support ten teachers in rural northeast Michigan in their efforts to include local environmental stewardship actions as part of their curriculum, and that will ultimately benefit Lake Huron and the Great Lakes watershed. Participating schools are located across eight counties and each will build a sustainability plan as part of the project, including facilitated conversations with partners on how to approach stewardship projects in a way to make them systemic as part of the school's curriculum across grade levels, an important aspect of sustainable MWEEs. For more information on the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, go to: http://www.nemiglsi.org/

Flint River Watershed Coalition: Blue Crew: Flint River Environmental Leaders: A Systemic Community Approach to Water Quality Solutions Through a Youth Lens

Flint River Watershed Coalition will collaborate with the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative's Discovering PLACE hub at University of Michigan Flint, and Michigan State University Extension to develop a community-centered approach to watershed education. The “Flint River Environmental Leaders” program will weave together Flint River GREEN student leaders, educators, and community partners into a cohort that will guide and provide meaningful watershed education experiences (MWEEs) in both formal and informal settings throughout the Flint River watershed. For more information on the Coalition's Flint River GREEN initiatives go to: http://www.flintrivergreen.org/

Inland Seas Education Association: Great Lakes Watershed Field Course

Inland Seas Education Association will bring 30 grade 4-12 educators to the Thomas M. Kelly Biological Station in Suttons Bay, Michigan for four days of professional development emphasizing first-hand experience with regional conservation success stories. Participants will visit field professionals at partner organizations who will share their watershed expertise and inspire teachers to implement stewardship projects with students in their home communities. Participants will implement Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with their classrooms over the following school year, including an opportunity for  their students to attend a Great Lakes science and sailing (Schoolship) experience. For more information on the Inland Seas Education Association, go to: https://schoolship.org/

Muskegon Area Intermediate School District: Creating the Next Generation of Great Lakes Stewards

Muskegon Area Intermediate School District will engage 40 teachers and 1,500 students in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) in local watershed areas that drain to Lake Michigan, including the Muskegon River, White Lake, and Muskegon Lake. Schools represent a mix of rural, suburban, and urban areas within the district and some schools will have multiple projects at multiple grade levels. The project will engage students throughout a full school year with classroom integrated projects that focus on students working with teachers and community partners on researching, planning, designing, and implementing environmental stewardship projects in their communities for the health of the watershed, a youth symposium to share successes and professional development, support and coaching for participating teachers. For more information about MAISD work with place-based education, go to: https://www.muskegonisd.org/instrservices/projectplace/glsi/

Grand Valley State University: Great Lakes MWEE Toolkit for Educators and Students

Through this project, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) will provide materials that will allow teachers to confidently lead their students through Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). The project will achieve this by organizing two workshops for twenty K-8 teachers in the Kent and Ottawa Intermediate School Districts that will focus on using Groundswell developed MWEE resources designed to get kids outside to learn. The videos and lessons are stored on Groundswell's web page, which hosts many of the watershed lessons and activities. The project will also work with WGVU, the local PBS station, to both document the MWEE process and instruct the teachers how to use digital media to capture the story of their watershed. Four lead teachers will work with their 300 students over the year to follow the MWEE process from beginning to end. Partners at WGVU Public Media will produce and deliver high-quality instructional resource videos and web resources to organize the four MWEE steps into an easy roadmap to follow. WGVU Media will also host twenty students and their teachers for three  interactive workshops designed to show students how they can work to produce quality media storytelling, using equipment, editing, and final production skill sets. At the end of the year an online toolkit will be shared to ensure the resources and classroom stories are easy to access and use for the school years to come. For more information about Groundswell at GVSU, go to: https://www.gvsu.edu/groundswell/

Michigan Technological University: Exploring the Geoheritage of Lake Superior Coastal Sites (Exploring Our Foundations)

Located in Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula, Michigan Technological University will engage approximately 15  teachers and 800 students in grades K-12 in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) by supporting schools in five counties as they undertake unique, student-driven watershed stewardship projects. This project engages rural communities in MWEEs with a specific focus on the intersection of geology, human relationships with landscape, and the impacts of climate change along coastal sites on Lake Superior. Building upon  previous success recruiting rural school participation, Exploring Our Foundations will foster greater understanding of Earth science and climate literacy by expanding teacher, school, and community partner recruitment in coastal communities on Lake Superior. Further, this project will afford improved Earth science and climate literacy among the broader public through the generation of widely accessible teacher and  student-led educational resources. The project goals will be achieved through a series of summer institutes, follow-up professional learning, mentorship, classroom learning, student-driven stewardship projects, and the creation of a “Story Map” documenting project outcomes. For more information about the the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University go to: https://www.mtu.edu/greatlakes/people/education-outreach/

Friends of the Rouge: Rouge Education Project

The Rouge Education Project (REP) is an existing school-based water quality monitoring program that combines long-term classroom-integrated Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) for students and teacher professional development. Work for this project centers on the Rouge River, which is located within the Metro-Detroit area of Michigan, and is the most urbanized river in the state covering 467 sq miles and housing 1.35 million residents. This Great Lakes B-WET project will focus on recruiting up to five new schools (students in grades 4-12) to the program, targeting teachers working in underserved communities, and adding an education assistant position to deepen relationships with schools and districts, and provide in-service support to teachers. Teacher training for water quality testing methods will occur through a combination of online and hands-on in-person outdoor workshops. Teachers receive a set of water quality monitoring equipment and are supported to promote watershed and water quality education within their classrooms and school grounds, culminating in an annual field trip to the Rouge River or tributaries. Following their field trip to the river, students are encouraged to present their findings at an annual student symposium to reflect and consider ways to develop an action project to benefit their community based on their results. After interacting with local professionals and partner organizations, they are also given an opportunity to receive funding to support their project plans and apply for a scholarship for a paddling trip. For more information about the Rouge Education Project, go to: https://therouge.org/rouge-education-project/

Eastern Michigan University: Schoolyard Stewards - Place Based Watershed Explorations Supporting Community Resilience

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) will expand upon our foundation of work in place-based stewardship education focused on watershed issues to: a) organize a compelling, Southeast Michigan Stewardship Initiative (SEMIS Coalition) professional learning sequence for the summer of 2022 and the 2022-23 school year that supports Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with a focus on community resilience in the school and surrounding neighborhood environment; b) support 15 teachers (2-4 of which are collaborators across communities/watersheds), their students, and their community partners in developing and implementing MWEEs linked to community resilience, highlighting climate effects on stormwater and watershed health; and c) use SEMIS professional learning and MWEEs to support teacher and student civic engagement toward community resilience to environmental hazards, demonstrating the need to be empowered to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. For more information about EMU's SEMIS Coalition, go to: https://semiscoalition.org/meaningful-watershed-education/

MidMichigan Environmental Action Council: Mid-Michigan Watershed Connections

The MidMichigan Environmental Action Council will provide an extensive professional development program for teachers in grades 6-9 and support engaging their students in watershed investigations, which is key to improving community understanding of ways of protecting watersheds. Teachers and students in the Lansing School District, alongside rural school populations (Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties) are the target audiences for this project. Professional development includes outdoor field experiences in river and inland lake environments, and will include investigations in water quality, limnology, tours of urban stormwater and rural watershed projects, and field work related to all parts of the water cycle within the watershed. Teachers will also travel to Lake Michigan to learn how upstream water impacts the larger Great Lakes. Teachers will have access to an augmented reality sandbox that will help students better understand watershed structure, and teachers' exposure to a wide variety of natural resource professionals will help showcase career pathways for students. Participating teachers will have support in the classroom to integrate watershed studies in their existing curriculum.  Their students will also participate in a lake limnology field experience to better appreciate land - lake - river connections. Subsequently, students will design and carry out a watershed-related project (research or service, as best fits the age and curriculum). Throughout the program, the theme of connections within the watershed will be stressed: connections between land use and water quality, connections between interior rivers and the Great Lakes, connections between lakes, rivers, groundwater. For more information about the MidMichigan Environmental Action Council, go to: https://www.midmeac.org/


Board of Education of the City of Chicago: CIMBY-Building Student and Teacher Leadership

A joint program of the City of Chicago Public Schools' Civic Engagement and Service Learning Initiative and The Field Museum's Science Action Center and its Youth Conservation Action work, the Calumet is My Backyard (CIMBY) program will build on its past success by expanding across the South Side of Chicago to host a “Student Leadership Program,” strengthening the capacity of Chicago Public Schools' high school students in facilitating Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) for their peers. The project will also host a Teacher Professional Learning Community (PLC), so that Chicago Public Schools' science teachers have the space and resources needed to lead sustained classroom-integrated inquiry to action projects centered in students' identities and communities. For more information on CIMBY, go to: https://ssce.cps.edu/project-based-learning/cimby/

New York

Upstate Freshwater Institute: Lake Ontario, Oneida, Onondaga Program (LOOOP)

The Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI) will build on and expand a successful program that combines teacher professional development with student environmental literacy and stewardship through outdoor experiences.  The project will take place within the Lake Ontario watershed (US; central and northern NY). The Lake Ontario, Oneida, Onondaga Program (LOOOP) aims to provide high school teachers with the knowledge and resources to facilitate student-led investigations and stewardship in their local watersheds and connect students within the greater Lake Ontario basin, and to one another. The LOOOP utilizes multiple delivery methods including virtual programming, in-person workshops, and integration of outdoor field experiences into classroom projects to potentially reach and connect to 45 teachers and 1,200 students; while the LOOOP has the potential to reach this many people, the project will utilize a focused group of 12 teachers from nine schools (eight districts) and an estimated 300 students from four counties within the Lake Ontario basin to evaluate the success of program objectives prior to expansion. Outdoor educational activities will occur both on school grounds and evaluating stream biological communities, collecting water chemistry data, streamflow data, meteorological data, and comparing to other data from online sources (e.g., NOAA). As part of this research,  participants will also learn about the local Indigenous community and their marginalization in current environmental science conversations. Through multiple virtual experiences, students will have the opportunity to discuss environmental topics of interest and watershed health with students in other schools, as well as learning more about career paths in the sciences. For more information on UFI, go to: https://www.upstatefreshwater.org/

Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve Inc: Niagara River/Lake Erie (NRLE) Classrooms

Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve will engage ten teachers and 220 students in grades 4-12 in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) that explore the Niagara River/Lake Erie (NRLE) watershed. Teachers will participate in extensive professional development, including a “MWEE Academy,” to become familiar with the MWEE framework and increase their understanding and awareness of environmental issues within the NRLE watershed. These teachers will form a network of NRLE classrooms to encourage peer-to-peer conversations. Project staff will provide one-on-one support for NRLE classrooms during the school year to increase teacher confidence in leading MWEEs, with the goal that teachers will then be able to engage future students in annual MWEEs when outside support is limited. Throughout the school year, student MWEEs will include the “Day in the Life of the NRLE Watershed.” Students will collect data within their local watersheds, following GLOBE protocols, to provide a “snapshot” of the larger NRLE Watershed on one day. Project staff will work with teachers to develop schoolyard MWEEs to ensure that concepts of watershed education are fully reinforced throughout the school year and classrooms at different districts will engage in virtual sharing sessions to compare data analysis, explore environmental issues within the watershed, and discuss possible solutions. Students will develop a stewardship action plan and receive funding and support to complete the project. For more information on the Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve's NRLE classrooms, go to: http://reinsteinwoods.org/nrle-classrooms/


Case Western Reserve University: Smart Citizen Science Curriculum Dissemination and Implementation

Case Western Reserve University's Great Lakes B-WET project is using a multi-faceted strategy aiming to ensure the long-term health of Lake Erie by engaging citizens and broadening access to reliable mechanisms to measure key physical and water quality parameters. Founded by the Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) in collaboration with a large number of community partners, the Smart Citizen Science Initiative (SCSI) combines standardized data collection with an online data platform to allow citizen scientists of all ages to contribute valuable data to a common database. This proposal targets a specific subset of citizen scientists, namely students in junior high and high school and their teachers. We propose to deliver intensive professional development across multiple sites and support up to 50 teachers and ten local champions as they implement three new modules in classrooms. For more about the CWA's SCSI, go to: https://clevelandwateralliance.org/smart-citizen-science

Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District: First Rings First-Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences for Teachers and Underrepresented Students in the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern

Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District will empower teachers and students across the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (CRAOC) to address complex local challenges of environmental health and social justice with a comprehensive toolkit of resources and support services grounded in Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs). The program will integrate new and existing elements to deliver a menu of training, tours, certifications, curricula, and tools to the First Ring Schools Collaborative (FRSC), a collection of Lake Erie Basin districts based within CRAOC. District staff, together with a network of community partners, will help teachers leverage this toolkit to reframe local watershed issues in the context of community challenges associated with race, poverty, and mobility through the MWEE framework and process. For more about the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District's First Rings First, go to: https://www.cuyahogaswcd.org/events/2022/04/23/first-rings-first-fellowship


Wisconsin Wildlife Federation: Fox-Wolf River Connections-Students Explore Ripple Effects in the Lake Michigan Watershed

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation will support 30 classroom teachers in leading Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) within Wisconsin's Fox-Wolf Watershed. Across an entire school year and multiple grade levels, educators from six schools will gain understanding and appreciation for the framework and elements of MWEEs through immersive field experiences, multi-day workshops, coaching, and mentoring opportunities. Teachers will strengthen their knowledge of watershed and climate science, and the impacts of human activity and land use on the health of the rivers and Lake Michigan ecosystems. At their school sites, educators will gain skills and confidence to facilitate MWEEs alongside FIELD Edventures coaches. The project anticipates reaching 750 students, who will spend at least ten hours of classroom time outdoors, in their schoolyards, along their local streams within the Fox-Wolf Watershed, and on the shores of Lake Michigan. For more information about this organization's environmental education initiatives go to: https://wiwf.org/green-school-network/