Increasing Access in our Education Programs

This month marks my one-year anniversary with Save The Bay as the Restoration Education Specialist. It has been a privilege working on protecting and restoring tidal marshes around the Bay through environmental education, habitat restoration and civic engagement with such a wonderful team. Looking back at this year, I am so proud of our Education Program’s accomplishments! Our education team has been working towards increasing access in our education programs. Many schools lack the funding and resources to participate in field trips, including environmental education programs. The two main barriers that inhibit many schools from joining our field trips are economic and linguistic challenges. Many schools cannot afford to spend money on field trips and transportation. One school bus can cost a school as much as $1,000 per bus! Not only are our field trips free, we also provide funds for bus transportation for schools that otherwise cannot afford it. Our team works hard to provide this opportunity for schools that qualify by engaging in targeted outreach. To address linguistic barriers, the habitat restoration team spends time in each of our meetings to learn and practice Spanish. We strive to communicate with Spanish speaking students and families. Furthermore, our education team has been working to provide Spanish and English in our instructions and on each visual that we use in our education program activities. While teaching, we use scaffolding techniques, such as hand motions and large visuals, to ensure students who are English language learners are able to engage and have fun. I love having students translate for us as it gives them leadership opportunities. We are in the final stages of editing our curriculum binder! This binder contains all of our program descriptions, activities, tricks and tips so that anyone, a volunteer, fellow or new staff member, can successfully lead a Community Based Restoration Education Program. We also have aligned many of our activities to Next Generation Science Standards. These Standards have been a wonderful tool in helping us figure out how to inspire students to become bay stewards and make connections to the bay and their everyday lives. NGSS combines science and engineering practices to encourage students to ask questions, experiment and be curious about the world and the community around them. We tailor our programs to fit each teacher’s learning objectives and educational needs. I am looking forward to this school season and thrilled to try new activities in the field! Come join us in the marsh by signing up for one of our student or volunteer programs!