DC students learn about water quality on the Potomac River and how the health of the river impacts the Chesapeake Bay.

Andrew Overton

Bringing the Chesapeake Experience to Students and Teachers

For 50 years, CBF's award-winning environmental education program has been one of the cornerstones of our effort to reverse the Bay watershed's decline. CBF educates tens of thousands of students, teachers, and school administrators each year through immersive field experiences and professional development courses that foster a lifelong connection to the watershed and its stewardship. We reach rural, urban, and suburban communities across the watershed, and 25 percent of the schools we work with are under-resourced.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Education 50 Years.

Our acclaimed programs include:

Student Field Programs—We take students outside to explore the Chesapeake Bay watershed and learn how we can all take action to save the Bay. We offer hands-on, unique outdoor education experiences—on the water and on land—in some of the region's most inspiring places. (See a field experience in action.)

Teacher Professional Learning—We form lasting relationships with teachers and support their work to incorporate watershed learning into the classroom through our Chesapeake Classrooms professional development courses, Teacher Environmental Literacy Leader networks, and curriculum resources.

School Leaders Environmental Leadership Program—CBF supports school principals, administrators, coordinators, and leaders in environmental stewardship opportunities for their entire school community. Through experiences, training, resources, and collegial discussion, school leaders learn how to design a school program that incorporates and benefits the local environment.

Student Leadership—Our Student Leadership Program assists students as they tackle the watershed issues they care about. Students develop teambuilding and leadership skills, and use their voices to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and their local communities.

Find out more about our Education Program and Resources.

Meaningful Watershed Experiences

Integrating state learning standards with explorations of local waterways, our programs provide a "meaningful watershed education experience" as defined by the Chesapeake Bay Program. Programs are supported and created in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the National Geographic Society.

Opportunities include exploration of local wetlands by canoe or a day aboard a traditional watermen's workboat or modern research vessel. In the heart of the Chesapeake, our island centers provide a unique insight into how the livelihoods of watermen are connected to the Bay, offering participants the opportunity to interact with surrounding 300-year-old fishing communities.

CBF's environmental education opportunities link the natural environment and human culture of the Chesapeake. They enable students and teachers to conduct their own research through biological sampling, chemical analysis, and physical measurements. In addition to using critical thinking skills to evaluate the health of the ecological system, participants also gain a unique perspective in the relationship between water quality, fisheries, and economics. Our courses combine many academic disciplines, such as earth science, biology, history, art, English/writing, math, chemistry, civics, economics, government, and responsible citizenship.

Innovative teaching methods and a knowledgeable, enthusiastic education staff have put CBF at the vanguard of the environmental education movement. The result is an exceptionally informed and inspired constituency that values the Bay and its watershed as a living, connected system. Read what people are saying out our education programs.

Video: Washington-Lee High School Students Explore the Bay with CBF

What is it like to go on a CBF education field experience? The Arlington Educational Television Department featured a student field experience on its weekly cable show, "Green Scene." See what we do and hear students, teachers, and CBF educators talk about the program.

Green Scene is filmed and produced by the Arlington Educational Television Department (AETV) in cooperation with the Arlington Public Schools Department of School and Community Relations.

From Our Blog

  • A Day in the Education Field

    September 22, 2023

    What exactly happens on a CBF field experience? CBF Pennsylvania educator Adaiah Bauer walks us through a typical day in the field.

  • Save the Bay News: Outdoor Learning, Blue Crabs, and Bay Restoration

    May 25, 2023

    The simple idea of getting kids “out on the water, messing around in boats” has remained at the core of CBF’s award-winning environmental education programs for 50 years—an anniversary milestone celebrated by the stories in this edition of Save the Bay News.

  • Learning to Think Like a Watershed

    May 22, 2023

    By forging human connections, watershed communities uncover the environmental connections that bind them to each other and their waterways.

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