The Wrack: tote

blog of the wells reserve & laudholm trust

Associated People Suzanne Kahn

"We have the opportunity to re-invent the world."

That was a final thought from one participant at the end of last week's Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) workshop here at the Reserve. After four busy days of guest speakers, hands-on activities, and visits to field research sites, the eight middle and high school educators hailing from states along the east coast from Maine to Florida shared their ideas for implementing stewardship projects in their own schools and communities.

TOTErs measure water quality parameters on the marsh

This year's TOTE Climate Stewards in Action workshop focused on the topics of climate change and ecosystem services. Cameron Wake, professor at the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at UNH, kicked of the week with a powerful presentation about climate science and the effects that a changing global climate will have on us, from rising seas to the inevitable dissapearance of Arctic sea ice. While the data was sobering, Professor Wake suggested there was a great deal of hope in teaching students about climate change. He encouraged the teachers to focus on the solutions to climate change rather than the problem, and promote social activism through student-driven projects.

To better understand the current and potential impacts of climate change, the teachers learned about "ecosystem services" (the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems, essentially for free, such as clean air, flood regulation, water filtration, and even simply aesthetic beauty). The social and economic effects of diminished ecosystem services as a result of climate change were felt strongly as we immersed ourselves in a role-play simulation game borne from a collaboration between the Consensus Building Institute, several Reserves, and the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT). Teachers took on the roles of landowners, business leaders, town planners, elected officials, and other concerned citizens of a fictional coastal town (based on Wells) dealing with rising sea level. This fun activity was a great way to spark conversation about how educators might begin to talk to students about the very real conversations that will be happening in their own homes and communities in the near future regarding climate change.

Because no trip to the Reserve is complete without time outside, TOTE participants enjoyed time out in the field observing ecosystem services first-hand. They learned about habitat assessment work in the Branch Brook from Research Associate Jake Aman, took water quality measurements on the Reserve's salt marsh, and then relaxed and reflected on the week with a beautiful kayak up the Little River.

TOTErs kayak up the Little River

By the end of the week, TOTE teachers left with new ideas, tools, and partners. They will now endeavour to create meaningful, service-based learning experiences throughout the upcoming school year. We are looking forward to their updates, photos, and experiences as they share what they have learned with their students and attempt to "re-invent the world" of science education in a rapidly changing environment. Good luck, TOTE Climate Stewards, and thank you for a wonderful and inspiring week!

Many thanks to the NERRS Science Collaborative for their generous funding of this year's TOTE workshop!

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Associated People Paige Rutherford

Project Summary

Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) is a 4-day field and research-based summer workshop designed for middle and high school science teachers. The workshop aims to improve teacher and student understanding of the environment using local examples, and to provide resources and experience to support the incorporation of climate change, ecosystem services, systems thinking, service learning, estuary and watershed topics into classroom teaching. The course is also designed to promote stewardship of watersheds and estuaries. Following the summer workshop, teachers implement a stewardship project with students throughout the school year, using a $200 mini-grant through TOTE. Teachers also commit to attending a half-day fall follow up session to report on their stewardship project progress.

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Associated People Paige Rutherford

David Word is an 11th and 12th grade AP biology and environmental science teacher at St. Francis High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to his participation in Teachers on the Estuary last summer he has been very busy with his students this year, removing invasive species within a 200 square foot area of riparian forest along the Beargrass Creek. Species of invasives within the plot included Bush Honeysuckle, English Ivy, and Winter Creeper.

After the removal, the group planted 70 native plants within the same area. Native species planted include: Great Blue Lobelia, Joe Pye Weed, Mistflower, Thimbleweed, Slender Mountain Mint, Wild Geranium, and Jack in the Pulpit.

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Associated People Kate Reichert Paige Rutherford Shaza Hussein Stephanie Goggin

Our education team has been very busy this winter and spring, despite it being our “slower season.” Below are some of our highlights:

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