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In 2020, Reserve educators have rallied behind students and teachers coping with the challenges of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many have taken to the virtual world, creating new ways for students to learn about estuaries with activities, curricula, video tours, and projects that encourage children to get outside in safe ways. They also are offering professional development opportunities for teachers on topics such as online learning platforms and outdoor schooling. 

As a result, thousands of students and teachers around the country continue to benefit from Reserve education programs. Some of these are highlighted below but there are many more. We encourage you to learn more about your estuary and others here. (Bookmark that page—we update it weekly!)

ACE Basin Reserve, South Carolina

When schools shut down in March, the ACE Basin Reserve’s education staff didn’t skip a beat. They created lessons using local water quality data, which were shared with 840 teachers and several hundred parents across the state. Later, they took children on virtual field trips and hosted virtual summer camps. This fall, they are supporting teachers with activity emails, virtual field trips, educational videos paired with live Q&A, and hands-on training adapting curriculum and teaching methods for an online world. 

“We have provided marine science and environmental education to teachers in South Carolina for decades and have developed close relationships with them,” says Julie Binz, education coordinator at the Reserve. “We’ve been able to reach out to these teachers in times like these, ask them directly what they need, and do what we can to help.”

Chesapeake Bay Reserve, Virginia

Springtime at the Chesapeake Bay Reserve usually means field programs that bring children to the estuary. This year, education staff jumped into action to transfer key programs, like the Discovery Lab, online. They created themed DIY activities, engaged families with online experts, and made educators directly available through Facebook to answer questions. 

They also created a 12-week program, Summer on the Bay, that offers videos, virtual field trips, resources, and activities. Using Reserve materials, they were able to create and mail out free literacy kits to over 50 students from Virginia to California.

“The Reserve is where locals get a lot of information about the Bay,” says Sarah Nuss, Reserve education coordinator. “It was the right fit because we already have that connection with the local community.”

Educators from Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Reserve film a video outside.

Lake Superior Reserve – Wisconsin

Last spring, local elementary school teachers got vital support from the Lake Superior Reserve’s Rivers2Lake program. The Reserve’s Nature Nibbles videos and worksheets became the sole science curriculum for more than 2,000 elementary school students throughout the Superior school district.

The Reserve also provided a workshop on how to teach outdoors and created a monthly virtual professional development series for teachers. 

“We really want to emphasize the role of nature in the social and emotional wellbeing of kids,” says Deanna Erickson, acting manager at the Lake Superior Reserve. “We have the content, the bandwidth, the relationship with teachers, and the knowledge of these students to really jump in and try to help them solve the insolvable.”

This fall, the Reserve plans to expand its offerings by creating the St. Louis River Field School to provide safe, healthy field experiences for middle schoolers who are practicing home-based learning.

“The Reserve staff are kind, honest, passionate people,” says Sue Correll, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Lake Superior Elementary. “They are experts but very approachable with questions. People feel like they can come to them.”

Fourth grade Rivers2Lake teacher Jess Gagne special guest stars in a Nature Nibble video about trees.

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