Region 6 Updates & Newsletter Submissions
1. What have been the highlights of your program in the past year?
a. In North Carolina, we have been working to grow engagement with Water Education Programs in general. We offer WET workshops to train educators on Project WET, but we have also started offering smaller workshops to familiarize non formal educators with specific techniques to teach students alongside streams. These brief, half-day training sessions allow us to share the excitement of stream-walking using NC Stream Watch (a statewide map that allows people to share observations of their local streams). These smaller trainings have also allowed NC Water Education to “get their foot in the door” to say “wait! There’s more! Have you tried Project WET activities?!”.
b. In Kentucky, we saw a significant increase in interest around climate education, which is super exciting! It has us more than ready to get our Climate, Water and Resilience training on the books for 2023. We continue to work with the Kentucky Division of Water to host Project WET in Kentucky. They became even more involved over the past year and many of the basin coordinators are interested in becoming facilitators and offering workshops of their own. We also worked with several different school districts across the state to offer customized training using Project WET and our other programs - using activities that target specific grade bands and academic standards.
2. What have been your greatest challenges?
The greatest challenge in North Carolina is keeping trained facilitators active. This has been true in Kentucky as well. Many of our most faithful facilitators were back in action last year, but we still have many who have dropped off that we hope to re-engage in 2023. In Florida many of our WET facilitators have retired and are no longer willing to do workshops. We are starting over to recruit and train facilitators. Georgia faces the same challenge. The demand for professional development workshops has definitely decreased. Most of Georgia’s workshops are for pre-service and non-formal educators.
3. What challenges are you seeing going into the next year?
a. North Carolina is going to have a hard time supporting all the virtual programs that have been stood up over the past couple of years while also going back to in-person workshops. Thus, it is imperative to offer more facilitator trainings that effectively engage and maintain engagement with new facilitators.
b. Kentucky has relied on virtual training to get new facilitators in the network for the past couple of years. We offered an in-person training in 2022 but had to cancel due to low registration. This year, we plan to offer a hybrid training - new facilitators will complete an online course and then gather for an in-person training and networking event. We hope this will re-invigorate our network with new facilitators looking to get more workshops on the calendar!
c. Florida needs to not only re-engage facilitators but engage educators. Teachers are not willing to give their free time to go to workshops virtually or face-to-face and the Dept. of Education and many local school districts don’t support training either. Once they do a workshop, they are hooked but getting them initially is a challenge.
4. What are your plans for your Project WET program going into the next year?
a. In North Carolina, for the first time ever, I sent out an email on the largest EE listserv and basically said, “HEY! If you want your site to offer a Project WET workshop this year, email me back and let’s get a date on the calendar.” I had a huge response and was able to get a Project WET Workshop offered in a different region of NC each month of 2023. There will be a few other facilitators offering workshops as well, but Lauren and Rebecca already have their workshops planned for 2023. You can view those here and clicking on “Project WET Workshops”.
b. In Florida, We are developing a homeschool field trip program broken into ages not grade levels. At the statewide Agriculture Educators Conference, a short program on the many aspects of Project WET and how it could be used in their lessons. This 2-hour presentation will be combined with Project WILD. I will be making a presentation to my area’s Legislative Delegation about supporting environmental education in Florida since we face so many natural resource issues–algal blooms, climate change, sea level rise, flooding, etc. but no support for EE. Florida has also received a BWET grant from NOAA through the Fl. Gulf Coast University that looks at climate change and pulling together thought leaders to make change.
c. In Georgia, the River of Words deadline is Feb 1 so we’re gearing up to review lots of art and poetry from GA students! Also in February, Projects WET, WILD, & PLT will host a 2-day Advanced Training for Facilitators that will include speakers, activities and field experiences focused on JEDI and Climate Change. The retreat will be held on Skidaway Island near Savannah. March will be busy as I’ll be leading a “Project WET Jr” day-long session for K-5 students at the Adopt-A-Stream Water Quality Monitoring Conference, planning a sharing session for NSTA, which will be in Atlanta this year (y’all come!) and doing a presentation at the GA Water Resources Conference at the Univ of Georgia; Go Dawgs! In April, I’m doing a PWET Facilitator workshop for the GA Assoc of Water Professionals.
d. In Kentucky, we will continue to work closely with school districts and offer more focused and targeted teacher training in Project WET and our other programs. We have also made it a goal to include at least one activity highlight climate education in all of our workshops in 2023 and beyond.
e. South Carolina is getting ready for 2023 and working on scheduling more workshops. In Greenville, we’re getting packed up and ready to move into a new county building in March!
What else are we working on?
- Other Projects: We are developing a homeschool field trip program broken into ages not grade levels.
At the Agriculture Educators Conference, a short program on the many aspects of Project WET and how it could be used in their lessons will be given. This 2 hour presentation will be combined with Project WILD.
I will be making a presentation to my area’s Legislative Delegation about supporting environmental education in Florida since we face so many natural resource issues–algal blooms, climate change, sea level rise, flooding, etc.
- Fun facts to Share: This has been a great mosquito season in our area and many have been slapped. Although most folks would be happy eradicating the mosquito, only 6 species bite humans and only the female. But I bet you didn’t know that mosquitos are great pollinators with many species feeding on nectar from flowers.
- Other Projects: River of Words deadline is Feb 1 so we’re gearing up to review lots of art and poetry from GA students! Planning a sharing session for NSTA, which will be in Atlanta this year (March). Y’all come! GA Water Resources Conference presentation in March at Univ of Georgia. Go Dawgs!
- Other Projects: June 1 - Outdoor Learning Symposium at North Elementary in Western KY
- View map of upcoming workshops: https://ncdenr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/3680c7f3ff7f4c549cb694274e402a3e
- Other Projects: Renewable Water Unit with PBS-NC, Creek Week Network, Various Water Education Presentations scheduled this year, Water Perspectives 8th Grade unit, NC Climate education Network
- Fun facts to Share: NC Stream Watch is getting an overhaul this year!
- Other Projects: Planning a triple facilitator workshop in June. Getting ready for 2023 and working on scheduling more workshops. In Greenville, we’re getting packed up and ready to move into a new county building in March!
- Fun facts to Share: Cool article on the age of our drinking water: https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/how-old-is-the-water-we-drink