(WASHINGTON, DC)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has unveiled a new partnership designed for educational and conservation partners to connect students and teachers in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties to meaningful outdoor learning opportunities and watershed education.
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) support high quality teaching and learning by actively engaging students in building knowledge and relevancy through hands-on experiences. These multi‐stage outdoor investigations have a goal of increasing understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ecosystems and boosting academic achievement.
The new Outdoor Learning Network Initiative (OLNI) is a partnership of the Berkeley County Schools, Morgan County Schools, Jefferson County Schools, Cacapon Institute, Experience Learning, and the Potomac Valley Audubon Society. Facilitated and supported by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, OLNI partners met at the Cold Spring Nature Preserve recently to review goals, expectations, and roles of each participating group.
“The goal of this project is to build strong networks and partnerships for our school systems,” said Karen Mullin, CBF’s Director of Professional Learning. “Studies have shown that this style of education improves academic performance, increases civic engagement, and instills a belief that individuals can make a difference. This framework provides our learners and leaders of tomorrow with a positive example of collaboration and what it looks like to work together for a common goal.”
“We are thrilled to work with our neighboring counties and these foundations,” said Kandy Pentoney, Elementary Curriculum Director at Morgan County Schools. As a small county, Morgan is always in need of the support of agencies and community members to provide our kids with the hands-on experiences that make learning relevant. Just understanding how we are part of a much bigger initiative to protect our watershed is exciting.”
The current OLNI grant will continue through Spring of 2021. It is being funded and organized by the Pisces Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network. These partners plan to invest a total of $135,000 in the three West Virginia school districts over the next 18 months.
“This program will benefit our students and the health of our local watershed,” said Frank Marsden of the Cacapon Institute. “Cacapon is excited to continue our partnership with Experience Learning and Potomac Audubon with a shared mission of protecting our local watershed through education and student action.”
“The end goal of the program is to strengthen the local capacity to deliver high quality educational experiences to all students in West Virginia’s Panhandle.” Karen Mullin added.