Hampton Roads students today celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) award-winning environmental education program with a hands-on learning experience aboard a boat with Virginia Beach high school students.
About 20 students from the Ocean Lakes High School Biology Club joined CBF educators on a field investigation on the Lynnhaven River to perform water quality testing, explore local environmental issues, and pull a net to sample fish, crabs, and other aquatic life.
Since 1973, CBF has led more than 1.5 million people in field investigations. Today, CBF reaches more than 10,000 Virginia students and teachers each year through field trips, teacher training, and restoration programs.
CBF collaborates closely with teachers and school administrators to integrate state learning standards with explorations of local waterways, ensuring environmental education programs complement classroom learning.
“Over the past 50 years we’ve seen time and again how hands-on experiences bring alive what students learn in the classroom. Whether paddling a canoe, pulling up a crab pot, or investigating the health of a nearby creek, we’re preparing students to solve the complex problems facing our society,” said CBF Vice President for Education Tom Ackerman.
CBF’s outdoor education programs benefit both the environment and educational outcomes. Research shows that outdoor learning helps students improve resilience, problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork, and leads to higher test scores and stronger engagement in school.
“In the next 50 years, we’ll continue to work towards our goal of ensuring all students have access to high-quality environmental education,” Ackerman said.
CBF offers many different types of environmental education experiences. Schools can sign up to take students on a CBF field experience at www.cbf.org/education.
For high schoolers interested in learning about Virginia’s environment and how to protect it, CBF offers student leadership week-long overnight expeditions in the summer. In Virginia this summer that includes a course along the length of the Rappahannock River and a separate expedition to islands in the middle of the Bay.
For teachers and school administrators, summer professional development courses through the Chesapeake Classrooms program provide on-the-water experiences that inspire lessons in schools across the region. Those include courses this summer exploring waters in Virginia Beach, Newport News, Richmond, and Hopewell.