Russia-USA Wetland Center Exchange Program Open House at The Wetlands Institute

Stone Harbor, NJ – The Wetlands Institute is excited to invite members of our community to an Open House event on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 6:30pm, at The Wetlands Institute, 1075 Stone Harbor Boulevard in Stone Harbor. This event is an opportunity for the general public to meet with international and national wetland center partners visiting from Russia, Iowa, Texas and the United Kingdom. The event will feature a short meet and greet session, followed by presentations from our US and Russian partners.

Wetlands currently rank among the world’s most critical ecosystems. Both the US and Russia have internationally important wetland areas that are vital components of global ecological networks and critical sites along the flyway routes of migratory waterbirds making hemispheric migrations. Both countries face similar threats to wetlands such as climate change, invasive species and habitat loss due to development.

However, the US and Russia have very different approaches to the practice of environmental education.  The US has a long history of outdoor learning, with youth encouraged to go camping, fishing, hunting and hiking.  Throughout the US, wetland education centers are widespread and utilize a variety of innovative approaches to teaching in and about wetlands.  Conversely, Russia has only recently moved from a system of strictly protected nature areas where people were excluded, to a more inclusive system of encouraging and promoting outdoor environmental education.

The Wetlands Institute , Wetland Link International  and Wetlands International Russia  have teamed up to generate a beneficial international dialogue between wetland centers in the US and Russia to share best practices in environmental education. The Open House is held at the culmination of the project: Russia-USA Wetland Center Exchange Program: Linking People and Wetlands.

Six wetland centers, divided equally between the US and Russia, participated in this international exchange program and conference. Together, they explored approaches for using social media, data sharing and outreach in environmental education.

Representatives from each selected center has traveled to the host center in the other country and explored a set of shared topics intended to provide each center with best practices and lessons learned across a broad range of subjects including climate change, invasive species, loss of wetlands to agriculture and development, increased use of water, wetland biodiversity, functions, benefits and conservation.  During the visits, participants had the opportunity to meet with the wider community around the wetland education center.

The Wetlands Institute Executive Director, Lenore Tedesco, and Director of Educational Program Development, Brooke Knapick visited Russia early this spring to meet and collaborate with their Russian counterparts from Smolensk Lakeland National Park.  Their Russian partners are currently visiting the Institute.  The international exchange program culminates with a final conference held at The Wetlands Institute. This three-day conference will bring all program participants together to discuss key findings and conclusions and create a bilingual manual of best practices for use in both countries.  The conference will include field trips to explore the area’s natural resources. “I am pleased to work with colleagues in the UK and Russia to advance the discussion about environmental education best practices.  This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the excellence of education programs at The Wetlands Institute and extend best practices and model programs abroad.  Hosting this important international conference at The Institute is also a great opportunity to showcase our extraordinary community and natural resources that are at the center of all we do” said Wetlands Institute Executive Director, Dr. Lenore Tedesco.

For more information on the project, click here.