OCCA to Host Summer Professional Development Institute for Teachers

  • Free professional development for teachers who want to bring excitement back into their classrooms.
  • Teachers will learn how to develop and conduct a MWEE (Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience) with their students.

Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA) will be offering a course this summer designed to help middle school teachers create innovative and exciting lessons about local watersheds. This 40-hour institute will include a mix of online lessons, hands-on field experiences, and independent work and is aimed at teachers in the New York portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The institute will begin on July 22.   

“We’re really excited about bringing this to New York teachers,” said Amy Wyant, Executive Director of OCCA. “After a year of disrupted learning and too much screen time, we know teachers and students are eager to get back to in-person learning and outdoor experiences.” 

The institute will focus on training teachers how to develop and implement Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). These are learner-centered experiences in which students investigate environmental issues in their local watershed, leading to informed action and civic engagement. MWEEs include classroom learning, one or more outdoor experiences, and, once their investigations are complete, presentations and an action project.

“One of the things we love about the MWEE model is how it promotes student action and engagement in their community,” said Wyant.

During the institute, participants will become familiar with the core components of a MWEE and will learn how to guide their students through the process. They will also complete a variety of field techniques, such as water chemistry sampling and macroinvertebrate monitoring that they may employ with their students. The institute will also include time for teachers to begin planning a MWEE to bring to their students. 

“With the emphasis on watersheds, we expect to see mostly science teachers participating,” Wyant said. “However, MWEEs provide great opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and partnerships between teachers of different subject areas within a school. There is great potential for developing units appropriate for social studies, English, math and art.”

Teachers who are interested in the institute are encouraged to visit OCCA’s website at occainfo.org/BWET for more details or to apply for the program. The page includes a short video describing MWEEs and a pre-recorded informational webinar about the program. For further questions, email OCCA at nywen@occainfo.org. The institute will be free. CTLE credits and Master Teacher credits will be available. 

The summer institute is part of the Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem, a partnership between NOAA’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program and OCCA. This three-year partnership aims to engage and educate teachers on how to integrate and perform Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences in their classrooms.

Founded in 1968, Otsego County Conservation Association is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to donate, visit www.occainfo.org

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