(COOPERSTOWN) — Educators in the New York portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed are invited to apply for a free, week-long professional development institute that promotes exciting, outdoor experiences this summer. The institute is offered by Otsego County Conservation Association and will run from July 18 to 22nd at the Pine Lake Environmental Campus of Hartwick College in Oneonta.
“After two years of being in our Zoom boxes we’re super excited about being able to offer this program in person,” said Amy Wyant, OCCA’s executive director. “It’s a great chance to be able to share energy and experiences with others, and learn about new ways to teach about the environment.”
The institute will focus on how educators can create Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) to teach about locally relevant environmental issues. MWEEs use a mix of classroom lessons, field experiences and independent research, and also engage students in action projects related to their topic of study. Organizers said the institute will include ample time exploring the woods and waterways around Pine Lake.
“We’ll have our feet in the creek and our hands in the mud,” Wyant said. “This is sure to be a lot of fun, but also a valuable learning experience.”
During the institute, participants will learn about the essential elements of a MWEE, and will examine how and where a MWEE can fit into their current curriculum. There will also be plenty of time to share ideas with fellow educators. Field trips will explore woods, wetlands and cultural resources around the Pine Lake area [NOTE: That last feels a little lie overselling one trip to Hanford Mills]
“One of the great things about MWEEs is that it’s a framework, not a prescribed set of lessons that you have to do in a very specific order or at a very specific point in time,” Wyant said. “There’s a lot of freedom in designing a MWEE, and a lot of emphasis on student choice. MWEEs also promote interdisciplinary learning. We encourage teachers to work with others at their school to create a fuller experience.”
While the institute is open to all New York educators, priority will be given to those who work in the state’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Teachers who are unsure if their school is in the watershed should visit https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/chesapeake-bay/school-districts-reached-chesapeake-b-wet#new-york. To apply for the institute, visit www.occainfo.org/bwet and click on the application button. The institute is free, but requires a $20, refundable deposit. Participants may be eligible to receive a stipend. Participants will have the option to stay at Pine Lake, and will have meals provided. Applications are being accepted until May 15.
OCCA’s summer institute is funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program. The B-WET program is an environmental education program that promotes place-based experiential learning for K–12 students and related professional development for teachers.
Founded in 1968, Otsego County Conservation Association is dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through research, education, advocacy, planning and resource management and practice. OCCA plays a key role in initiating and carrying out programs designed to improve or protect Otsego County’s air, land, and water. Wide support from county residents enhances our ability to accomplish our mission.