Teachers Learn to Integrate Ocean and Forest Literacy into Education

October 10, 2013

Newport, Oregon—Educators from across Oregon converged in Newport on Thursday, October 10 and Friday, October 11 for the annual COASTALearning Symposium.

The Symposium features nearly 70 unique sessions designed to teach educators and others how to integrate Oregon’s outdoors into the classroom. The group of over 300 educators in attendance chose between dynamic, interactive adult education programs including “The ART of Recycling,” “RIVERS! The amazing connection between the forest and the sea” and “Kayaking for Health, Education and Fun!” The event wound down in style with a Post-Symposium Celebratory Cruise of Yaquina Bay courtesy of Marine Discovery Tours, but efforts to inspire Oregon teachers will continue after the boat docks.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s school liaison, Rachael Bashor, who coordinates the annual event, explained the primary objective of her work is to, “Find a sustainable way to embed ocean and environmental literacy in K-12 education.” The goal is to encourage teachers to integrate lessons about the ocean and surrounding environment into schools while still addressing state and national mandates like the Common Core.

“The sessions give me a lot of confidence to take my class out to the field and talk to kids about the outdoors. I am going to explore a potential field trip site and learn how to set up a salt water aquarium, these are tools that make learning exciting for students,” said Ingrid Olson, a Waldport first grade teacher.

The Symposium is the keystone event of Bashor’s efforts. Matt Love, Bashor’s Ocean Literacy partner at the Lincoln County School District, said the sessions, “Inspire teachers to do a little bit more and support the ones that already are.”

The Symposium is possible thanks to the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s strong partnerships with organizations like the Lincoln County School District, Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Sea Grant, and the Oregon Forest Resources Institute that have donated their time, meeting space and even grant money to the cause. These partners are critical to the grassroots Ocean Literacy effort that Bashor is building along Oregon’s coast. This group of natural resource and education driven organizations is also currently developing a first of its kind Ocean Education Certificate program for teachers.

Norie Dimeo-Ediger of the Oregon Forest Research Institute, said, “We think of every partnership as leveraging the group’s resources for a common goal. I am just really grateful to be a part of this.”

More information about the COASTALearning Symposium and a complete list of this year’s sessions is available at: http://tinyurl.com/coastalsymposium2013.

Teachers looking for creative ways to bring the outdoors to their classroom should email education@aquarium.org.

To support the Ocean Literacy Initiative and other marine science education programs visit http://aquarium.org/support/donate.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Newport on the beautiful Oregon Coast. Our mission is to inspire the public to better understand, cherish and conserve marine and coastal ecosystems. The Aquarium is a member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. It has been named one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook.com/OregonCoastAquarium for the latest updates.

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Note to the media: Photos of this event are available at here.