Education and Interpretation

Our goal to promote environmental education and participation in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) is no longer tracked in this manner. New environmental literacy indicators are under development. They are expected to be available in the fall of 2015.

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.


The long-term health of the environment will depend on the public’s interest in and ability to protect the natural world. Research has shown that an individual’s sense of environmental stewardship can increase alongside experiences with nature. By promoting environmental education at elementary, middle and high schools and by incorporating Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) into formal education, Chesapeake Bay Program partners foster environmental stewardship from an early age.


In 2000, the Chesapeake Bay Program set a goal to provide every student in the watershed portions of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia with a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) before graduation from high school, beginning with the class of 2005. In 2008, the Bay Program increased this goal to provide students with three MWEEs: one in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school.

In 2014, the Bay Program set a new goal to enable students in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed. This goal includes three outcomes related to MWEEs, sustainable schools and environmental literacy.

Since the Chesapeake Bay Program adopted the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) initiative in 2000, all watershed states have incorporated curriculum that provides students with a MWEE into their school divisions. States continue to encourage the implementation of full MWEEs.

This indicator was last updated with data from the 2009-2010 school year. During this time, about 80 percent of the education goal was achieved. This score is based on the average of the achievement of the education goal for elementary, middle and high school students:

  • Elementary school students: 81 percent of goal achieved in 2009-2010 (1,017,822 out of 1,261,599 students received a MWEE)
  • Middle school students: 81 percent of goal achieved in 2009-2010 (529,757 out of 674,474 students received a MWEE)
  • High school students: 80 percent of goal achieved in 2009-2010 (627,043 out of 782,177 students received a MWEE)

More than 46,000 students experienced a MWEE during the 2009-2010 school year that was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant program. More than 1,400 teachers experienced training opportunities funded the same way.

Additional Information

The Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant program

In 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the results of a multi-year evaluation of its Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant program. The program has been cited by watershed jurisdictions as instrumental in increasing environmental literacy among students. Results of the evaluation showed that students were more knowledgeable about the watershed and more likely to take action to protect the Bay after participating in a B-WET-supported program. Results also showed that B-WET-trained teachers were more confident about and more likely to use field experiences to teach about the watershed.


Source of Data

NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office