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In Media: Sea Grant and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Hold an Online Teacher Training
Great Lakes Coastal Youth Education - News

Sampling Training, Hyde Park (a town in Dutchess County, New York, bordering the Hudson River north of Poughkeepsie).

— Published by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for "DEC Delivers" e-newsletter

Buffalo, NY, November 4, 2020 - In the spring of 2020, our world as we knew it flipped upside down. With the outbreak of COVID-19, events were canceled, in-person teaching made the quick switch to virtual, and educators, both formal and informal, scrambled to make new plans and adapt.

To meet the needs of educators in our region, New York Sea Grant and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper partnered to lead an online teacher training series focusing on how to engage students in understanding their local environmental context through the lens of environmental justice while utilizing remote and virtual stewardship activities. 

The workshop series forced both organizations to work diligently to design the workshop series. Educators had the chance to reflect on their own environmental and stewardship lessons and discuss how to incorporate environmental justice into its teaching and local environmental issues. Overall, there were 43 participants, including 35 teachers. This included the following schools not-for-profit educational programs, universities and government programs:

Public Schools:
Buffalo Public Schools
Belleville Henderson C.S.D.
Kenmore Tonawanda UFSD
Pioneer Central Schools
Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District
Alden Central School District
South Jefferson Central District
Greece Central School District
Williamsville Central School District

Private Schools:
The Park School
Community Music School
Nardin Academy
St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute
Riverside Academy
Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart
Mount St. Mary Academy

Young Audiences of Western New York
Earth Spirit
Rochester Museum and Science Center
WNY Environmental Alliance, and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper

University at Buffalo
Buffalo State College
Niagara University

NYS Tug Hill Commission
Erie County Department of Environment and Planning
NYSDEC Great Lakes Commission 

Dr. Monica Miles, coastal literacy specialist with NY Sea Grant, provided participants an overview on environmental justice, how environmental justice needs to be racialized, and making local connections for students learning to be more meaningful and to assist with students gaining a robust understanding of how their environments are deeply connected to their lived experiences. Some examples are student access to green space and how green spaces have an impact on their overall well-being, especially where communities in poverty and/or of color are less likely to have access to these very valuable environmental resources.

Shoreline Tour, Hyde Park.

Incorporating environmental justice into education lessons has been a major focus for staff at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. By using tools like EPA’s EJSCREEN, educators can use real, local data to explore environmental issues and see how they impact different communities, often in disproportionate ways. Staff shared with participating educators how they use an environmental justice lens when planning lessons for their Young Environmental Leaders Program (YELP).

This teacher training will serve as a model to train teachers to implement virtual, after-school academic enrichment activities for students at Hyde Park Elementary School and Gaskill Preparatory Middle School in Niagara Falls, New York. Both schools are designated 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC), are located near Hyde Park Lake, and serve communities in need in terms of poverty and academic achievement.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, University at Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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