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Environmental Education in Chesapeake Bay Trust Grant-Making

The Chesapeake Bay Trust recognizes that the recovery of our local streams, rivers, and estuaries – the future health of our environment, economy, and communities – depends on an environmentally literate and engaged population. As a result, environmental education is a critical strategy used by the Trust in accomplishing our mission and has been a core component of our grant portfolio since our inception in 1985. Environmentally literate students go on to be environmentally responsible community members who are more likely to adopt and support environmentally responsible behaviors and projects which accelerates the restoration and protection of our natural resources.

Current Practice: The Trust promotes the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE, pronounced “mee-wee”) model, a type of project-based learning that integrates several best practices in education and was specifically designed to build environmental stewardship in students. Aligned with the regional efforts of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, the Trust is committed to the broad community goal of every student receiving at least one MWEE in elementary, middle, and high school. As a result, the Trust invests in environmental education projects that embed MWEEs into curricula of targeted grades or courses in school districts, empower and build the capacity of educators and administrators to design and deliver MWEEs, and establish networks of school districts and local partners focused on advancing environmental literacy goals.

Current Goal Statement: The environmental education efforts supported by the Trust will integrate environmental literacy into the culture of every regional school system, increasing students’ academic achievement, engagement, 21st century skills (learning, digital literacy, and life skills), and stewardship. The Trust works to ensure every student graduates with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to act responsibly and make informed decisions concerning the health of their local communities and environment.

Vision for the Future: The Trust envisions a future where residents within the Chesapeake region have the tools to understand and take action to address increasingly complex environmental issues as a result of climate change. The future of the Chesapeake Bay watershed will eventually rest in the hands of its youngest residents (three million students in k- 12th grade). The effective and sustainable environmental education programs supported by the Trust will provide an essential foundation for future decision-making that will lead to a restored Chesapeake Bay.

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