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College offers free watershed education workshops this spring


marine research vessel the, “Indigo.“
SEA's 65-foot steel marine research vessel the, “Indigo."

Whidbey Island-based Service, Education and Adventure (SEA) and Edmonds College in Lynnwood have received a $100,000 Watershed Education Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The educators will work together with NOAA scientists and local community organizations to provide hands-on, on the water, workshops to Washington state teachers. The workshops will be provided at no cost and include continuing education credits.

Watershed education teaches the skills needed to protect and restore ocean and coastal habitats, ensure clean coastal waters and beaches, and expand scientific information, research, and monitoring.

The goal is to increase ocean literacy in Washington state and provide skilled stewardship of local watersheds. An immediate need is to prepare students for work helping to restore the environmental health of Puget Sound by 2020. The Washington State Legislature set this goal in 2007 and created a state agency, the Puget Sound Partnership, to oversee it.

The marine workshops for teachers will be offered weekends aboard SEA vessels — the 65-foot steel marine research vessel, “Indigo,” or the 74-foot sailing Ketch, “Luna”.

“In order for people to truly care about Puget Sound, our watersheds, and the issues facing them, they must have real experiences on the water and create meaningful relationships with the environment. We are modeling this for participating teachers. We want them to feel and experience the power of this educational approach,” said Susie Richards, co-director of SEA.

Teachers may also take a for-credit online class, “Developing Meaningful Watershed Education Programs,” through Heritage Institute/Antioch University and will receive support from course facilitators Susie Richards and Chris Burt (SEA co-directors) to develop hands-on programs for their own students through this course. Participating teachers will also have the opportunity to apply for small grants to take their own students into the field to engage in restoration and educational programs in their own local watersheds.

Students in Edmonds CC’s Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) School, a series of anthropology classes with a hands-on, service-learning focus, will assist the teachers. The LEAF students will share their experience as trained citizen scientists and will serve as mentors to K-12 students to help monitor water quality, survey habitats, take beach sediment profiles, monitor riparian restoration projects, and track wildlife.

“College students who have experienced watershed-based service-learning bring an enthusiasm for this hands-on approach that can inspire teachers to engage younger students in learning activities that also have a direct impact on improving the quality of life in our communities,” said Thomas Murphy, Edmonds CC LEAF School instructor.


Edmonds College’s Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) School offers a series of three anthropology classes, Human Ecology 201, 202, and 203, with a focus on hands-on service-learning activities in partnership with local agencies. Students practice participant observation, the primary method of investigation in cultural anthropology, while learning about the social and ecosystems of Western Washington.

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Edmonds College's LEAF School