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Diving Into eeBlue: Mystic Aquarium Partners with NOAA & NAAEE to Offer Watershed STEM Education Grant

Mystic, Conn (June 23, 2020): Mystic Aquarium is proud to be among the 29 environmental education organizations receiving Watershed STEM Education Partnership grants. The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and supported by the U.S. Department of Education, awarded $2.35 million cumulatively to the organizations to help NOAA provide enriching after school watershed-related STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects.

“We are honored to be recognized with other exceptional environmental education organizations and truly excited to participate through this important grant to deliver Watershed Action: Conserve, Collaborate, Community,” said Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President of Mission Programs for Mystic Aquarium. “Every day Mystic Aquarium works toward a more equitable and inclusive vision for nature conservation through our national youth conservation program, STEM Mentoring for the Planet, which engages youth from high-need communities around the country in environmental stewardship, and this program will undoubtedly help us deliver on that objective.”

These grants will support programming for a total of 91 local 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) sites and their students, many of whom live in high-poverty and underserved areas. The 29 selected projects are serving 17 states, ranging from Alaska to Florida.

These Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants allow environmental education organizations to collaborate directly with the 21st CCLC sites on the design and implementation of locally relevant, out-of-school-time programs that develop students’ environmental literacy and leadership skills as they improve their communities. The funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by NAAEE.

“Watershed Action is an exciting new initiative that leverages the Aquarium’s local and national youth conservation work to create a high impact program in partnership with Gladstone Elementary School, a 21st Century Learning Center in Cranston, RI,” continued Cubina. “The Project also leverages our unique partnership with a diversity of NOAA programs, including Connecticut Sea Grant College, National Estuarine Research Reserve, Marine Debris, and the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center Network.”

Students will learn about STEM while also building leadership and advocacy skills by participating in exciting hands-on and virtual learning activities connected to nature.

NOAA and 21st CCLC partners will deliver authentic STEM experiences that use components of the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) model along with other NOAA assets and expertise.

These grants are part of eeBLUE, NAAEE’s effort to build collaborative partnerships that support the mutual STEM education goals of NOAA and the U.S. Department of Education.

“We greatly appreciate the hard work of NAAEE and all the grantees to create these amazing STEM opportunities for students across the country,” said Louisa Koch, Director of Education at NOAA.

“It is so exciting to launch this unique opportunity and work together with NOAA and the Department of Education to support educators and 21st CCLC sites. Combining our strengths is a force multiplier in both creating equitable STEM opportunities for students across the country and strengthening EE programs. Together, we can help build a more equitable and sustainable future,” says T’Noya Thompson, Environmental Education Specialist at NAAEE and Program Manager for the grant. “These programs will enrich communities around the country, and ultimately cultivate a sense of stewardship within everyone involved.”

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