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Environmental education at sanctuary

October 7, 2012
Emily Siegmon - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is opening its doors to provide local schools hands-on environmental educational programs through a Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training competitive grant.

According to Jeff Gray, sanctuary superintendent, the B-WET program initiatives are to use the environment to help advance K-12 learning and problem solving, increase academic performance, and to create an enthusiasm for learning and environmental stewardship.

"This is a competitive grant from NOAA that involves a group of folks that are working together to create a solid watershed education program," he said.

Gray said the grant provides opportunities for all area schools to get involved in meaningful watershed educational activities, and includes professional development for teachers.

"It's an awesome hands-on program that connects kids to our resources. They really learn how our everyday actions have an impact," he said. "The professional development for teachers also inspire them to teach watershed education and lead in their classrooms."

The competitive grant was awarded to the sanctuary this year, and provides materials for hands on projects, classroom boat trips, and transportation for local schools. The B-WET Great Lakes grant is funded through the EPA administered Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, for grants between $25,000-150,000 per year for up to three successive years for a single project.

"We've had incredible responses, especially from kids and teachers who are getting out and seeing the actual thing. It's really great to engage and inspire kids," Gray said.

Local educators who want to take their class out for watershed experiences throughout the school year have the opportunity to participate in a classroom cruise, water quality testing training, student led projects that focus on the Thunder Bay watershed, transportation and equipment for the projects, and professional development.

For more information contact Sarah Waters, visitor experience coordinator, at 356-8805 or at

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.



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