The Otsego County Conservation Association announced that it has been awarded funding through NOAA’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program for the Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem project. This three-year partnership between the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education & Training Program and OCCA builds capacity for environmental literacy and stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay watershed by building support at the district and school level for the creation and implementation of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) in schools across the New York portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. MWEEs are student-led investigations of local environmental issues that culminate in a stewardship action project, connecting students not only to environmental science but also to civic engagement.

“MWEEs are great because they engage students in local issues while connecting them to the wider world,” said Amy Wyant, OCCA’s Executive Director. Wyant stated that focusing on teacher training would allow the program to have a greater impact. “We’re providing teachers with the skills and tools that will enable them to bring MWEEs into their schools and engaging the next generation of environmental advocates.”

"We are delighted to provide NOAA B-WET funding to support Otsego County Conservation Association's first-of-its-kind effort in New York to build capacity for teachers, school administrators, and non-formal educators," said Elise Trelegan, NOAA Chesapeake B-WET Program Coordinator. "Their thoughtful approach to outreach and training will help schools provide meaningful watershed educational experiences for students for years to come."

OCCA is building curriculum for digital and in-person professional development for grade 5-12 science teachers. The program will include multiple sessions to train teachers, administrators and others in MWEE development and implementation; integration of MWEEs in school curriculum; aligning MWEEs with current learning standards; and will provide training in a variety of field techniques teachers need to explore watershed issues with their students. OCCA aims to provide professional development and training for over 100 area teachers over the course of the project.

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