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You Think Kids Have All The Summer Fun?

Summertime, and the living is easy. Fish are jumping, and the teachers are high -- on the Chesapeake Bay and water quality and marshes and crabs and oysters.

With apologies to George Gershwin, Bay Daily welcomes the start last week of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) summer teacher education program, a series of outdoor field experiences for teachers and principals around the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The field experiences offer five-day, Seining.CEpeshands-on, get-wet-and-dirty outdoor excursions led by professional CBF educators and scientists, augmented by outside experts and resources, all designed to engage and inspire teachers in outdoor education.

The summer programs cover lots of ground and water, but a fundamental objective is to demonstrate how educators can incorporate the outdoors into their schools and classrooms. Why? Studies show that getting kids outdoors to learn about the natural environment in hands-on ways improves their focus, motivation, behavior, and achievement. Students also develop a new appreciation and stewardship of the natural world, especially the natural resources in their own backyard neighborhoods.

That’s why during the regular school year, CBF leads thousands of students on outdoor field trips in canoes, kayaks, and education boats and to our remote island education centers on the Chesapeake Bay. But when summer rolls around, the CBF education team turns its attention to teachers and principals.

The summer programs provide high-quality professional development and enable teachers and Seining2.CEpes administrators to learn how to involve their entire school communities in outdoor learning experiences aligned with local school system standards.

And the trips have impact. Consider this reflection by Becky Crowther, a 5th-grade teacher aide at Northumberland (Va.) Elementary School:

“We boated, paddled, and marsh-mucked our way into learning more about the Chesapeake Bay. Each activity required team work from loading the boats to scientific investigations to preparing our meals. Through CBF's field investigations, floating classrooms, and remote island accommodations, students and teachers are separated from their hurried lifestyles and physical possessions to discover a reason to care about the environment. This reason to care will lead to a reason to change their human impact on the valuable resource of the Chesapeake Bay...

“While sharing lesson ideas, proggin' the shoreline, and conversing over coffee watching each day's sunrise, we formed great friendships. It was also impressive how CBF staff presented Bay information using all of our senses. We tasted the marsh grasses, smelled the salty air, felt the weak pinch of a newly shed soft crab, and we heard the stories about their love of land and water from a unique group of islanders.”

Canoe.CEpesOr this observation by Clarie Gardner, a first-grade teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Germantown, Md.:

“What a perfect setting to sort things out and focus on the impact of our actions.  We were given the opportunity to see the big picture and come to the realization that we have more power than we know.  We may now have more questions than answers, but we are able to ask them through a filter of respect for this fragile, vulnerable, one-of-a-kind, no-other-place-on-earth crossroads that has retained its ‘wildness’.  I look forward to helping my students find meaningful, authentic learning experiences in nature; wild is the way!”

Take a quick peek at the photographs here, or at this television news clip of a trip this week in Virginia Beach.

Now, don’t you wish you could taste the marsh grass, smell the salty air, and feel a newly shed soft crab this summer? If you’re a teacher, a principal, or know someone who is, check out CBF’s summer programs here.

Chuck Epes
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Photos: CBF 


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