B-WET's 20th anniversary

In 2022 we celebrated the B-WET program’s 20th anniversary.

The NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program is a competitive grant program that began in 2002 to support a partnership for watershed restoration in the Chesapeake Bay. The program has since grown to serve seven regions around the country: California, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, New England, and Pacific Northwest. The framework for environmental education promoted by the program, the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE), has evolved over this time into a robust learner-centered framework that focuses on investigations into local environmental issues and leads to informed action. 2022 marked the B-WET program’s 20 year anniversary. We reflected on the immense growth our program has seen over the last two decades by celebrating this milestone with the theme "20 years and growing."

B-WET’s 20th Anniversary logo: It reads “B-WET 20 years and growing.” To the left of the text is a water drop shape and inside there a sketch of two people kneeling with a plant between them.

In the 20-plus years B-WET has been working around the country, it has been a powerful catalyst for environmental literacy. 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. This in turn supports NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship.

B-WET funding creates opportunities for environmental education, now and in the future.

Since 2002, the B-WET program has awarded over $117 million to support 929 projects. The program reaches thousands of educators and tens of thousands of students every year. The impact of this funding can last long after the grant ends. The MWEE framework and B-WET funding are powerful tools to support states, districts, and their partners to develop high-quality environmental education opportunities for every student, as well as rigorous teacher training opportunities. By building capacity for implementing environmental education throughout entire school systems, B-WET helps schools meet the need for high-quality education through MWEEs. Learn more about B-WET's impacts.

B-WET projects support student success.

We at NOAA believe that wherever a student is on their journey, hands-on, inquiry-based environmental education is important to help them succeed. MWEEs provide the opportunity for students to engage in problem-solving situations that place learning in the context of their daily lives. When this sort of relevant, student-centered learning is integrated into the curriculum, students are better equipped to meet academic standards. MWEEs ask students to think critically, solve problems, employ analytical skills and higher-order thinking, and communicate effectively. These skills are also essential to prepare a workforce ready for the innovation and challenges of the 21st century. Find resources B-WET has developed to support MWEE practitioners on our MWEE resources webpage.

B-WET projects are place-based and locally relevant.

By allowing students to lead their own research about local issues they are interested in that impact their schools, neighborhoods, and communities, MWEEs reach beyond textbooks and connect science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects more authentically to the lives of students. This, in turn, increases student interest in learning. Conducting hands-on field investigations and meaningful action related to locally relevant, real-world issues fully engages students as active learners. MWEEs also make space for teachers to foster discussions about environmental justice and the ways local environmental issues may have greater impacts on marginalized community members. Place-based environmental education has the power to help students develop meaningful personal connections to their environment and a sense of personal agency and empowerment. Learn more about how B-WET projects impact local communities on our B-WET participant perspectives and news and stories webpages.

B-WET helps achieve NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship.

Through the process of identifying and exploring environmental issues facing their communities and taking action to address them, students build stewardship skills, a sense of civic responsibility, and help NOAA achieve our mission of science, service and stewardship. NOAA educates and inspires the nation to use science toward improving ocean and coastal stewardship, increasing safety and resilience to environmental hazards, and preparing a future workforce. Understanding and predicting change in our environment is not enough; individuals need to be able to apply this information to support robust economies, resilient communities, and healthy ecosystems (NOAA Education Strategic Plan 2021-2040). Every B-WET MWEE gives students opportunities to put this into practice in their communities through hands-on environmental action projects around the country.

B-WET's history

Learn about the growth of the B-WET program since 2002 on our timeline.

B-WET has grown to 7 regional programs since its creation in 2002.
B-WET's funding has increased from $1.2M in 2002 to $8.25M in 2022.
B-WET has increased the number of students reached from 9,094 in 2002 to 49,000 in 2022.
B-WET has increased the number of educators reached from 1,006 in 2002 to 2,800 in 2022.

B-WET funded projects featured on NOAA Education

Many of our grantees create educational resources as part of their B-WET project. Check out our grantee resources featured in NOAA Education resources collections!

B-WET participant perspectives

As part of our 20th Anniversary, we shared participant perspectives to help you learn about the program and how it benefits funded organizations and the educators and students they serve.