This summer, a group of middle and high school teachers will learn how to incorporate the study of Lake Ontario, and the streams and rivers that flow into it, into their curriculum.
The new program — designed by a St. John Fisher College biology professor with Genesee RiverWatch and Delta Environmental Inc. — will connect teachers with tools and opportunities from local, state and national resources.
Mike Boller, associate professor of biology and director of Fisher’s Center for Sustainability, recently received nearly $80,000 from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training program to create a training and support program for teachers.
“NOAA is interested in promoting educational experiences that get people to learn about the importance of the water cycle and ecology by getting them in and on the water,” Boller said.
“Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers: Experiential Education and Stewardship in the Lake Ontario Watershed” will provide middle and high school teachers with tools and resources available in the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions to teach immersive water education.
A summer workshop will help teachers engage their students in aquatic scientific inquiry, including conducting field studies, using equipment and developing lesson plans for their classrooms that can be implemented in the 2020-21 academic year.
The B-WET training will include trips to the Finger Lakes Institute’s stream monitoring network program at Ganondagan State Historic Site, a three-hour environmental education experience on the Sam Patch and aquatic sampling in the Genesee River.
The program includes financial support for classrooms to get outside and engaged with the watershed.
“This project specifically engages students with activities in and on the water,” Boller said. “This place-based model will reinforce that the important concepts aren’t only from a book or the internet, but are important here and now.”
Boller hopes that students will be inspired to create a more sustainable future.
“Stewardship of the watershed is really important now and in the future,” he said. “Everyone should know where their water comes from, how the things we do impact the water and how we can work to solve the problems we create through chemical pollution and overuse. We obviously rely on fresh water for our drinking water, but it supports so much more — our agriculture, industries and recreation — and most importantly, it is crucial to all of the life around us in our natural environment.”
Interested teachers can visit bit.ly/2VRZya1 for information.