From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems
Nisqually River Foundation with partners (South Sound GREEN, Chehalis Basin Education Consortium, and Mount Rainier Institute) with support from NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region implemented their project, “From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems,” over 3 years, from 2016-2018. Our region faces the climate change threats of sea level rise, receding glaciers, extreme weather/flooding, ocean acidification and impacts on humans and important local resources, such as surface and groundwater, salmon, forests, and shellfish. Together we engaged more than 120 teachers and their 3,000+ students from the Nisqually, South Puget Sound and Chehalis watersheds to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts. We held three Summer Teachers Institutes to bring teachers connect teachers with local science experts in climate change impacts in the Pacific Northwest. Our 2017 Institute was held in partnership with Mount Rainier Institute, who also hosted Climate Resilient Youth Leadership Programs for 350 12-18-year olds. Participants generated and participated in Community Resilience Action Projects to conserve local ecosystems and increase resiliency in their communities to extreme weather events and changing climate. These projects included: riparian habitat restoration in the Nisqually, Chehalis, and Deschutes basins; creating recycling and composting programs on school campuses; eliminating Styrofoam from school cafeterias; creating a Migration Parade event to explore climate impacts on migratory species; the “Pick a DOT- Do One Thing - What’s your thing?” on-line videos; and the creation of high-impact environmental education art installations, to name a handful. Students also monitored local stream flows, temperatures, and water quality, building on a previous Targeted Watershed Grant from the EPA and a data set that goes back to 1992. NOAA’s mission of Service was supported as teachers and students shared their knowledge in their classrooms, with school districts, at community meetings, and through social media. NOAA assets used included the NW Marine Fisheries staff, Data in the Classroom, CoCoRaHS, NOAA-NASA Cloud Watcher Chart, NOAA’s Climate Literacy Principles, Beat the Uncertainty game, Game of Floods, Thermal Expansion label, the Marine Mammals of the US West Coast, and more. Other local contributing partners include the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Squaxin Tribe, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Nisqually Land Trust, Thurston Conservation District and Capital Region Educational Service District 113.
Ocean Science - Formal and Informal Education for Ocean Literacy
The Ocean Science project integrates the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts into a Western Washington region-wide, coordinated program of formal and informal education consisting of: 1. Teacher professional development in the ocean sciences to integrate the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts into inquiry-based marine science education and instruction; 2. Evaluation and re-alignment of existing Sound Science ecosystems curricula into Ocean Science, incorporating NOAA data and promoting the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts; 3. Classroom programs, beach field investigations, and on-site programs at the Seattle Aquarium of the Olympic Coast national Marine Sanctuary's Olympic Coast Discovery Center for grades 4-5 students, their parents and teachers; 4. Parent training in ocean science content, the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, and inquiry-based methods for supporting their children's science education; 5. Informal education for the general public via an interactive learning station linked to the Window on Washington Waters exhibit and designed to innovatively use NOAA data and information (videos, computer simulations and other creative media) to increase and evaluate ocean literacy in adults and children. Window on Washington Waters displays the outer coast marine environments and sea life of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.