The NOAA B-WET program is an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, authentic experiential learning focused on K–12 students and educators. B-WET funding is provided through competitive grants that promote Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). The MWEE is a learner-centered framework that focuses on investigations into local environmental issues and leads to informed action. These activities leverage local STEM assets and STEM professionals. NOAA funding is provided to support student investigation of environmental topics and related professional development for educators.

B-WET serves seven regions of the country: California, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, New England, and Pacific Northwest. This regional approach allows the B-WET program to support grantee capacity building and respond to local education and environmental priorities.

2022 program impacts

Data represent impacts as of November 2022

  • B-WET supported 145 institutions bringing locally relevant, authentic experiential environmental learning to K-12 audiences, supported by local STEM assets and STEM professionals and impacting a total of 23 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Over 2,800 educators received professional development to enhance their skills and confidence in using environmental education and MWEEs to address multiple subjects’ curriculum standards and local education agency initiatives.
  • Over 49,000 students participated in multi-stage, inquiry-based activities that include learning both in the classroom and outdoors in a local context.

2022 marks B-WET’s 20 year anniversary. In this time it has been a powerful catalyst for environmental literacy. Since 2002, NOAA has awarded more than $117 million to support 929 B-WET projects. The B-WET program and the MWEE framework support environmental education, foster student success and interest in learning, and empower students to implement environmental solutions in their own communities. Visit our 20th anniversary webpage for highlights about the immense growth the program has seen over the last two decades, including participant perspectives on benefits to funded organizations and the educators and students they serve.

2020-2022 Watershed STEM Education Partnership program impacts

B-WET collaborates with the U.S. Department of Education and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) to implement the Watershed STEM Education Partnership program offsite link. Since 2020, NAAEE has awarded $2.45 million to 30 projects in all seven B-WET regions. These locally relevant, out-of-school-time projects developed students’ environmental literacy and leadership skills as they improved their communities. These projects engaged: 

  • 97 local Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) site partners in 18 states, 
  • 5,970 students at the 21st CCLC sites, many of whom live in high-poverty and underserved areas, 
  • 263 science subject matter experts who engaged with students and introduced them to STEM topics and careers, and
  • 830 21st CCLC site staff that directly collaborated with environmental education organizations on the design and implementation of the projects. 

The funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by NAAEE. For more information on current projects, please visit the You for Youth NOAA partnership website.

Impacts of evaluation and evidence-based best practices

B-WET uses internal and external evaluation, current research on teaching and learning, and lessons learned from over two decades of program implementation to improve and refine the core B-WET experience, the MWEE. Conducting national-level program evaluation while staying up-to-date on current education research helps us monitor and adjust program activities and MWEE components through evidence-based best practices. For example, using data from our B-WET national evaluation and an internal review of the most recent research on teacher professional development, we revised our list of teacher MWEE professional development characteristics to ensure grantees develop and deliver high-quality professional development for teachers. We are currently analyzing evaluation data collected between 2016 and 2021 and will share results of this analysis, and related program impacts, in 2023.