by Brooke Knapick
Environmental education for our youth is key to ensuring a future for the wetlands and coastal ecosystems. For many years, The Wetlands Institute has maintained long-standing partnerships with local schools in both Middle Township and Ocean City. Beginning in 2016, we extended these partnerships to include schools within Stone Harbor and Avalon. Each year, approximately 450 children in grades K-2 from Middle Township Elementary, 1,050 children in grades K-9 from Ocean City Schools and all students in K-8 from Stone Harbor and Avalon Elementary Schools experience multi-day engagement environmental education programs ranging from aquariums in the classroom to terrapin tracking to beach and wetland explorations.
All of our programs emphasize place-based education and allow students to explore and understand the surrounding south Jersey ecosystems they call home. During these programs, students research, identify, investigate, and apply scientific methods through hands-on activities and experiences. Although programmatically the activities vary according to grade-level, all lessons and field experiences are designed and intended to allow students to develop a deeper understanding of the organisms and ecosystems within their local community. From turtles to salt marshes, water testing to sustainable seafood, we seek to leave a lasting impression on the students.
As we reflect on the longevity of these partnerships, we look forward to giving future students a deeper appreciation for their local environment while watching them grow from children into environmental stewards. If your school is interested in forming a partnership with The Wetlands Institute, our door is always open.