Happy 50th Earth Day! Wherever you are, we invite you to celebrate nature and what it means to you. Traditionally, this is a time for Reserves and their communities to come together to express their appreciation for the special places we love so much.
Next year we will again. This year, we are “celebrating in place,” with a spotlight on Reserve education programs and their tireless work to unlock the science and beauty of estuaries for all of us—whether we are two or 102. (Catch up on how Reserve education is making a difference in your state.)
Students Get Muddy (& Soak in Some Science)
Getting muddy is a big draw, but for the 90,000+ students who visited Reserves last year, the lasting reward was a new way of looking at nature—through the lens of science. Students of all ages got to observe natural phenomena, ask questions, design research, collect data, and draw conclusions, all while learning about the benefits of healthy estuaries.
This spring, Reserve educators didn’t skip a beat as they created new ways for us to learn about estuaries online with activities, curricula, video tours, ideas for backyard projects—even virtual reality.
Estuary Education Goes Online (For Now)
Florida’s Rookery Bay Reserve brought education programming online to connect students and community members staying safe at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to the estuary.
Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Reserve partnered with their local school district to develop interactive online lessons that bring real research from the St. Louis River estuary into the classroom.
At South Carolina’s ACE Basin Reserve, marine scientists offer virtual lab tours to students who lack access to laboratory experiences and come from communities that may be under represented in science fields.
Teachers Wade In
Since 2014, more than 150 Texas teachers have shared their newfound expertise with approximately 12,000 students, thanks to the Mission-Aransas Reserve.
Students aren’t the only ones who get restless in the classroom! Nationwide, more and more teachers are looking for nature-based experiences they can share with their students. They also need professional development opportunities to help them keep pace with Next Generation standards for science education.
Reserves provide access to local science and data, develop estuary-based curricula that responds directly to teacher needs, and offer field-based workshops, where teachers “wade in” to build their capacity to bring the wonder and science of estuaries back to the classroom. Jump to top.
On the Estuary or Online, Reserves Support Teachers
From Oregon to Alabama, educators are getting out of the classroom and into estuaries for workshops that use local research and data to build their capacity to teach estuary science.
Massachusetts teachers are prepped to help students step “away from the screen” and into their own backyards, to learn about science while staying safe, thanks to the Waquoit Bay Reserve.
California’s Tijuana River Reserve partnered with the San Diego school district—California’s second largest—to train middle and high school teachers on data literacy and Next Generation science standards.
Communities Inspire: Estuaries Are for Everyone
We have local communities to thank for every Reserve in our national system. Each Reserve is here because a group of community members fought for a place that was so special, they knew they had to protect it for future generations.
This spirit does not stop with a Reserve’s designation. Community members are part of our extended family—the kind you are always happy to have visit! They clean up debris, become citizen scientists, support habitat restoration, build natural play areas, lead education programs, and most importantly, they inspire by reminding us that estuaries are for everyone.
Oregon’s South Slough Reserve transformed an unhealthy forest around their visitor’s center into a habitat that will support education programs for years to come.
Volunteers at New Hampshire’s Great Bay Reserve get their hands dirty and boots wet on a regular basis: in 2019, they spent more than 200 hours gathering estuary data.
Volunteers (including an invasive-vegetation-eating goat) cleaned up and restored areas of HRNERR’s headquarters as part of the eighth annual I Love My Park Day.