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Education and Interpretation

About 80 percent of the goal was achieved during the 2009-2010 school year (2.17 million of 2.72 million students), based on data from the 2008-2009 school year.

During the 2009-2010 school year, the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant program funded Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) for more than 46,000 students and training opportunities for more than 1,400 teachers.





July 27, 2011

What is a meaningful watershed educational experience?  It’s more than just a field trip; it’s an integrated approach to learning both in the classroom and out in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Produced by Matt Rath

Importance

Perhaps the best way to foster Bay stewardship is through education, especially for the millions of children who live in the watershed. The long-term health of the environment will depend on their interest and ability to protect nature. Bay Program partners continue to promote environmental education at elementary, middle and high schools, with a focus on providing MWEEs for all students before they graduate.

Incorporating MWEEs in formal education is essential to changing people’s stewardship ethic over the long-term. Research has shown that intensive, sustained experiences with nature are very effective at increasing stewardship ethics.

Bay Program partners also provide lifelong learning opportunities for citizens of all ages, with information and interpretation at a multitude of locations in the region.

Goal

In 2000, the partnership set a goal to provide a MWEE for every student in the watershed portions of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia before graduation from high school. In 2008, the partnership increased the number of experiences to provide each student to three, which means that students will receive MWEEs in elementary, middle and high school.

Amount completed since 2000

The Chesapeake Executive Council adopted the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) initiative in 2000, pledging to provide a meaningful bay or stream outdoor experience to every student in the watershed before graduation from high school, beginning with the class of 2005. Since the adoption of this initiative, all signatory states have incorporated curriculum that provides a MWEE into their school divisions. States continue to encourage the implementation of full MWEEs.

Amount completed since 2006

80 percent of the goal was achieved during the 2009-2010 school year (based on 2008-2009 school year data), compared to 60 percent in 2006-2007. This MWEE index score is based on the average of the achievement of individual goals for elementary, middle and high school students:

  • Elementary school students: 81 percent of goal achieved (1,017,822 out of 1,261,599 elementary school students received a MWEE) in 2008-2009, compared to 57 percent (726,471 out of 1,271,736 students) in 2006-2007.
  • Middle school students: 81 percent of goal achieved (529,757 out of 674,474 students received a MWEE) in 2008-2009, compared to 65 percent (425,821 out of 652,218 students) in 2006-2007.
  • High school students: 80 percent of goal achieved (627,043 out of 782,117 students) in 2008-2009, compared to 57 percent (428,398 out of 751,152 students) in 2006-2007.

Amount completed in 2010

The Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) Indicator was not updated for the 2010 Bay Barometer because a large number of school districts did not report data to the states for the 2009-2010 school year. The percentage of students who received MWEEs is calculated by dividing the number of students that school districts in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia report as having received MWEEs by the total number of students in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The large number of school districts that did not report any data would have caused a large drop in the percentage of students who received MWEEs. This data would not be representative of the actual percentage of students who received MWEEs. Data from the 2009-2010 school year was re-used for the 2010 Bay Barometer to most accurately represent the most recent knowledge of the status of the MWEE Indicator.

Additional Information

Incorporating MWEEs in formal education is essential to change the long-term stewardship ethic of the population. Research has shown that intensive, sustained experiences with the Bay watershed’s resources are very effective and increase stewardship ethics.

NOAA B-WET Evaluation

The NOAA B-WET Program, with support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, recently completed an intensive multi-year evaluation that shows that students are more knowledgeable about the watershed and more likely to take action to protect the Bay after participating in B-WET supported programs.   The study also showed that B-WET trained teachers are more confident about and more likely to use field experiences to teach about the watershed.

Progress toward Providing MWEEs

While no baseline exists for the MWEE commitment, input received from the agencies in charge of implementing and tracking this data indicates that tremendous progress has been made since 2002. This progress represents not only an increase in the amount of students and teachers served with MWEE experiences, but also in depth and quality of programming and overall coordination of the effort within each jurisdiction and among jurisdictions.

The NOAA B-WET grants have been cited by all jurisdictions as being instrumental in assisting the states to meet the C2K commitment.

State Department of Education funding is also a key indicator of the year-to-year success of MWEE implementation. When state funding is directed away from the Department of Education, MWEE implementation falls. During the 2009-2010 school year, representatives did express concerns regarding the funds that were available

Source of Data

NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office

410 Severn Avenue / Suite 112
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY / Fax: (410) 267-5777
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