On Air: Great Lakes Summer Workshops for Teachers
New York's Great Lakes: Ecosystem Education Exchange - News


Nate Drag, NYSG Great Lakes Literacy Specialist, E: nwd4@cornell.edu, P: 716-645-3610 

Buffalo, NY, July 20, 2022 - What are some of the issues you'll be dealing with during these summer workshops for Great Lakes teachers?

"New York Sea Grant recently released a curriculum on plastic pollution," says NYSG Great Lakes Literacy Specialist Nate Drag.

Also, "Educators, I think, are interested in understanding and communicating to students how [climate is] impacting our region."

"We have four this summer, Oswego, Messina, Rochester and Buffalo. But I'll also be hopefully doing some throughout the school year ... as well. And all the resources that I'll be sharing at the workshop are available on our website."

Drag spoke with News Director Dave Rowley on WDOE 1040 AM / 94.9 FM's "Viewpoint" program, which is broadcast in the greater Syracuse and Oswego regions. 

Viewpoint airs on WDOE Monday through Friday at 8:45am. Dave Rowley has been handling the hosting duties for more than 20 years, interviewing local, county and state elected officials. Community groups are also featured on the 15-minute live interview show. Listeners email their questions to Dave, who includes those inquires in the interviews.

You can also listen to the entire "Viewpoint" program featuring Nate Drag of New York Sea Grant in the clip below ...


If you don't see the player above, it's because you're using a non-Flash device (eg, iPhone or iPad). You can download the mp3 file by clicking here (mp3). It may take a few minutes to download, so please be patient.

Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:07] It's time for Viewpoint. Here's your host, Dave Rowley.

Speaker2: [00:00:16] And welcome to Viewpoint on our live line. We have the New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Literacy Specialist Nate Drag. Nate, welcome to the program.

Speaker3: [00:00:28] Morning, Dave, happy to be [00:00:30] here.

Speaker2: [00:00:30] Glad to have you on our live line. And today, you're going to talk a little bit about a Great Lakes focus professional development opportunity for K12 K through 12 teachers, environmental center educators and homeschoolers. Tell us about this workshop.

Speaker3: [00:00:55] Yeah, so it's part of our Great Lakes Ecosystem Education [00:01:00] Exchange Program, which is a joint project between New York Sea Grant and the Department of Environmental Conservation. And we're doing four workshops across New York's Great Lakes shoreline, which is roughly 500 miles of shoreline. So a pretty big range. But we're starting on Monday out in Oswego. But then in August, August 9th at Buffalo Harbor State Park, that's that's the closest one in western New York. But I'm also going to Massena and Rochester. So [00:01:30] connecting with anyone that wants to teach children and young people about the Great Lakes all across New York and various shoreline parks. So we're going to be right in the ecosystem on these amazing shorelines and habitats, talking with teachers, bringing resources to them, bringing experts and scientists to the workshop to talk about the most recent research and and different ways that they can talk and teach kids about the Great Lakes. So I'm pretty excited. It's kind of [00:02:00] an annual road trip where I go across New York's Great Lakes to talk to teachers.

Speaker2: [00:02:04] So what are some of the issues you'll be dealing with during this workshop, during these workshops?

Speaker3: [00:02:13] So each one will have a few main focus areas. So plastic pollution, which is an issue that's that's really received more attention both in the scientific community and the public at large. And New York Sea Grant recently released a curriculum [00:02:30] on around plastic pollution. So going to be demonstrating one of those activities for the teachers, walking them through how they would do it in their classroom or in an after school program or at home. So we'll go through the steps of the lesson and I'll talk about which learning standards it aligns with and share that resource with them. Our partners at the DEC are going to be doing a demonstration on climate change in the Great Lakes. So understanding how that those impacts are being felt locally and [00:03:00] what students can learn and do about that issue. And then also coastal resiliency, which really talks about how we can make our shoreline more resilient to storms and prevent erosion and things like that. So each workshop will feature those three topics, but there'll be a different guest speaker at each workshop as well that we'll talk about their specific projects.

Speaker2: [00:03:21] Now, do you also talk about some local issues that reflect some of those broader [00:03:30] issues that you talk about?

Speaker3: [00:03:33] Yeah, definitely, and each location gives us that opportunity to really hone in on what's happening in the community and look at the specific shoreline. So when we're at Buffalo Harbor State Park we're going to have a guest speaker from TIFF Nature Preserve, which is right across the street from the park, talking about their school programs and the restoration projects that have happened along Buffalo's harbor as it's transitioned from former industrial sites to now [00:04:00] recreation and ecological sites. So we're going to try to provide local examples at each workshop and we'll talk about the water quality monitoring that's occurring along those shorelines and how students can do some of that citizen science in their local community.

Speaker2: [00:04:15] So how can teachers and others sign up for these workshops?

Speaker3: [00:04:21] So if they go to New York Sea Grant’s website, which is nyseagrant.org/gleee, [00:04:30] which is Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange, the nyseagrant.org/gleee. The registration information will be right there. Teachers can sign up for any of the workshops and every participant will receive a $50 stipend for their time because we know everyone's time is very valuable and we know that especially for teachers, this is summer. They want to enjoy the summer, but we also want to give them some cool stuff for next year. So there's a little thank you for them and they'll be able to sign up [00:05:00] for a lot of our educational resources that they can borrow as well. Are basin bins which have 25 activities in them, fish or PDF’s, which is a little backpack full of life sized vinyl cutouts of native fish species. So they can also borrow stuff that they can take with them to their classroom.

Speaker2: [00:05:17] Now, I know climate change certainly is hitting the news. We're hearing about these wildfires not only in our own country, but globally. Some really, you [00:05:30] know, eyebrow raising type stories. Is there more and more interest in the climate change from educators?

Speaker3: [00:05:43] I think so, because it's a very, like you said, broad global topic. But educators, I think, are interested in understanding and communicating to students how it's impacting our region. So we might not have the wildfires or heat waves here right now, but how is it impacting the amount of ice that [00:06:00] we have in the winter? And what does that mean for erosion? What does that mean for evaporation? How is it impacting when fish bond, if the waters are warmer at different times of the year that impacting their spawning and their eggs? So there's a lot of interconnections between different impacts. So there's a lot of research going into it. And I think one thing that we try to do is give the teachers and students really local examples because, you know, you're totally right, the eyebrow raising stories [00:06:30] we hear from around the world, they catch your attention, but then you get back in your regular life and you look out at your community and you're not seeing wildfires. But that doesn't mean that we're not going to see impacts here or not feeling them already. It's just a little bit different. So we try to make the local connection.

Speaker2: [00:06:45] And I know you mention plastic pollution. I know there was a local researcher, Dr. Sheri Mason, who has done a lot of work in this area of plastic pollutions [00:07:00] and really this is really catching on not only in New York State, but across the nation.

Speaker3: [00:07:07] Yeah, and we worked with Dr. Mason on our curriculum as well. She's featured in two of the activities. One talked about her career as a scientist and gives kids an example of who a real scientist is and what they do on a day to day basis so kids have a better understanding of that career path and they can see themselves in that role. And then another one talks about [00:07:30] the research and the voyages that she did in the Great Lakes, because a lot of the work that she did with her partners was some of the first studies on freshwater and plastic pollution and freshwater, knowing about it in the ocean for a long time. But the more we look, the more researchers are finding in streams and rivers and the Great Lakes. So we're really trying to raise the awareness of this issue, but also help kids think about what role they play in it and as part of the problem, but also part of the solution. And we've had [00:08:00] Dr. Mason present on our webinar when we released the curriculum as well. So she's always great to work with even though she's down in Erie now, it's a little bit farther, but still a great partner.

Speaker2: [00:08:10] And how important is it for kids to get involved in this? What age are we looking at? You mentioned K through 12, are we seeing some of the earlier grades perhaps taking part in this type of curriculum?

Speaker3: [00:08:31] You [00:08:30] really have a great opportunity to engage different ages in different grades with different types and amount of information. So some of your high school classes, you can share some of the research data with them and they can really dig into it and and plot it on a graph or do some more technical lessons with it. But the younger children, kindergarten elementary schools are so curious. They're asking a lot of questions. So a lot of those activities is introducing different fish species and and looking at [00:09:00] the different shapes and sizes. And, you know, we have an activity where we have kids build their own fish. So after you teach them the different parts of a fish's body, they can pick and choose which part of a fish they would, they would use and what the advantage is of different fin shapes and sizes are, but just letting them be creative and get to know what's in their local area. There's a lot of great animals out there and kids know about lions and elephants, but we don't have those here. But we have sturgeon and we have really great [00:09:30] animals right here in our neck of the woods. So that's what I try to do with the younger kids to help build that connection and let them have fun with it.

Speaker2: [00:09:38] Now, if educators can't make that workshop in Buffalo, can they perhaps attend one or the other workshops?

Speaker3: [00:09:50] Oh, yeah, certainly. So like I said, we have four this summer, Oswego, Messina, Rochester and Buffalo. But I'll also be hopefully doing some [00:10:00] throughout the school year now. We have done some virtual webinar trainings in the past, but we're doing more in-person things and I'm hoping to do some throughout the school year as well. And all the resources that I'll be sharing at the workshop are available on our website. You won't get the advantage of the live demonstration and the networking with your fellow colleagues, but you can get them online. And I'm also available to come speak to schools as well. I love talking to teachers, but I also love talking to students too. So [00:10:30] I've visited area schools and done some of these activities direct with the kids and that's always fun as well.

Speaker2: [00:10:35] Yeah, so that's always an opportunity, but that in-person learning at these workshops, that's something that I have a feeling you're going to draw more educators.

Speaker3: [00:10:49] Yeah, I think so. And it's great when, when the educators are together at the workshop because they're sharing ideas with each other, talking about what works, what hasn't, and just learning from each other. So [00:11:00] I think there's a great benefit in that network building between different teachers and different schools. And and it's just what's nice is it's summer, it's outdoors, so it's a little bit more casual. So I'm really looking forward to the workshops this summer and I hope to get a good turnout and everyone takes a lot from them.

Speaker2: [00:11:17] As we wrap up today's interview, Nate, how can people get more information about the workshops and how can they sign up?

Speaker3: [00:11:27] So nyseagrant.org/gleee [00:11:30] GLEEE Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange. So that's our education website and it has the registration information for all the workshops has my contact info, phone number, email people can always shoot me an email or give me a call and I'm happy to talk more Great Lakes stuff and and share resources, develop new things too. If a teacher has an idea and oh man, it'd be great if I had a lesson plan around this Great Lakes topic. We [00:12:00] can work together and develop something like that.

Speaker2: [00:12:02] Well Nate thanks for joining us on the live line telling us all about New York Sea Grant.

Speaker3: [00:12:11] It was a pleasure to be here.

Speaker2: [00:12:12] Okay, Nate Drag again. He is a New York Sea Gran  Great Lakes Literacy Specialist telling us about the Teach the Teachers workshops coming up in Buffalo on Tuesday, August 9th, and [00:12:30] more details will have on the website. So we appreciate that. 

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, SUNY 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.

New York Sea Grant Home *  NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Home

This website was developed with funding from the Environmental Protection Fund, in support of the Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act of 2006. 

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