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). MWEEs are learner-centered experiences that focus on investigations into local environmental issues that lead to informed stewardship actions. 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. Students identify actions to address these issues and understand the value of those actions.

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.

2020 program impacts

  • B-WET supported 130 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.
  • Over 3,600 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 73,100 students participated in multi-stage, inquiry-based activities that include learning both in the classroom and outdoors in a local context.

Since 2002, NOAA has awarded over $100 million to support 820 B-WET projects.

Watershed STEM Education Partnership program

B-WET is collaborating 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. In 2020, NAAEE awarded $2.35 million to 29 projects serving 17 states as part of this partnership program. These grants will support programming for a total of 91 local 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) sites and their students, many of whom live in high-poverty and underserved areas. These grants allow environmental education organizations to collaborate directly with the 21st CCLC sites on the design and implementation of locally relevant, out-of-school-time programs that develop students’ environmental literacy and leadership skills as they improve their communities. 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.

Evaluation and advancing the field

B-WET uses evaluation and evidence based practices to improve and refine the core B-WET experience, the MWEE. The MWEE is based on research literature, evaluation results, and lessons learned over a decade of program implementation. The B-WET national evaluation system, which began data collection in 2014, enables the program to monitor and modify activities as a result of new information about best practices, and to support grantees in implementing those practices.

B-WET is a leader in evaluation. The National Research Council highlighted B-WET in their 2010 report offsite link on NOAA Education as “the most rigorous evaluation design employed among the NOAA evaluation programs.” This recognition was in reference to an evaluation of the Chesapeake B-WET program in 2007 that demonstrated tangible links between students’ participation in B-WET-funded MWEEs and an increase in their environmental stewardship and literacy.