EPA recently awarded funding to MassBays under the Exchange Network Grant Program to provide tools, training, and services to citizen groups conducting water quality monitoring in the Bays. The project will result in the following products:
1. AquaQAPP, an online application facilitating preparation of Sampling and Analysis Plans/Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) for marine and freshwater water quality and benthic monitoring programs.
2. Data management archiving for groups conducting monitoring, through EPA’s Water Quality eXchange (WQX) platform.
3. Training workshops and one-on-one assistance to monitoring program coordinators for monitoring program design, scoping for volunteer training, utilization of AquaQAPP and WQX, and data analysis.
4. A web-based reporting tool (EcoHealth Report Card) to present and interpret results of monitoring in the Bays for multiple audiences.
MassBays seeks applicants for the position of Dependent Contractor, a “Circuit Rider” to lead work on program component number 3 above, to be based in Boston but serve all of MassBays’ planning area. This person will provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and their staff on components of quality-assured monitoring programs in near-shore areas. Topics may include: developing monitoring program objectives, selecting suitable sampling sites and water quality parameters, suitable training for volunteers, identifying certified laboratories for sample analysis, statistical data analysis, and data interpretation with reference to program objectives. The Circuit Rider will also organize and recruit attendees to regional training workshops for program coordinators focused on the online AquaQAPP application in October 2019, as well as a second set of workshops (March 2020) to introduce utilization of WQX.
by Jordan Marino and Val Perini, Northeastern University Marine Science Center
On November 15th & 16th the New England Ocean Science Collaborative (NEOSEC) hosted the seventh biennial Ocean Literacy Summit, at Northeastern University and UMass Boston. The Summit planning team, composed of marine scientists, educators, and ocean literacy leaders in New England, put together a two-day program that followed the theme of Ocean Literacy Principle 2: the ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth. Through presentations, lightning talks, and demonstrations, people came together to share best practices to promote ocean literacy by making marine science more accessible to public audiences. This year also included a special focus on creativity and science and using art and other non-traditional methods of science communication.
The event started with a splash on Thursday with morning workshops at Northeastern University in Boston, afternoon field trips hosted by local NEOSEC partner organizations, and an evening Science Café at the Boston Winery. The four workshops included topics of advancing ocean literacy with technology, using creativity and art to promote science communication, using citizen science to engage the public in ocean research, and an introduction to the Ocean Literacy Framework and its development. Each workshop started with presentations and introductions from a panel of presenters, followed by time for participants to ask questions, try out activities, and explore resources related to each topic. Workshop spaces were a buzz as attendees met presenters and colleagues, brainstorming about how to apply these resources to their work.
Diana Payne from Connecticut Sea Grant, and Sarah Schoedinger from NOAA Office of Education, led the workshop titled, “Ocean Literacy 101: How the Concept of What Everyone Should Know About the Ocean Changed the World”. Diana and Sarah, who contributed to the development of the Ocean Literacy Principles, discussed their conception, and how they have evolved to be included in education standards across the world. The National Science Education Standards have little content on marine science and with this void in mind, the goal of the Ocean Literacy Principles was to provide a framework for integrating ocean literacy into science education.
After field trips, participants made their way to the Boston Winery, for some evening libations, pizza, and conversation. After an entertaining and informative tour by the grandson of the Winery’s founder, participants were treated to three short talks on living shorelines and coastal resilience in Boston. Local scientists, engineers, and landscape architects gave an overview of local work they are doing to prepare Massachusetts for sea level rise. Three chapters of NMEA sponsored the science café: Southeastern New England Marine
Educators (SENEME), Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME), and Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association (GOMMEA). Each brought materials to share with attendees. Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management also shared valuable resources they’ve developed to help youth and the public better understand threats facing coastal habitats, and the path towards a more resilient coastline.
On day two of the Summit at UMass Boston, Jeff Donnelly, Senior Scientist and Director at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, kicked off the morning with the Keynote Address discussing his research on hurricane effects on coastal landforms and ecosystems. He shared how hurricanes have evolved over time, and what changes may come in the future. The keynote address was followed by a panel on Sea Level Rise, with a diverse group of panelists who fielded questions from education and outreach, to weather and climate change action plans. They provided several ways to educate the public on sea level rise, and how to stay optimistic about the future. There was a great conversation amongst audience members on successes and challenges of communicating climate change with the public.
The rest of the day included a science and education fair with hands-on demonstrations and activities, exhibitors of various organizations, lightning talks, and concurrent sessions.
At the science and education fair, a diversity of presenters showcased hands-on classroom activities, from oceanographic monitoring with drifters, to exploring erosion with model “coastlines” in paint trays. The concurrent sessions paired a scientist and educator to share their expertise on a variety of topics from earth’s recent geologic history, to the influence of ocean life on landforms, to seaweed art.
Just when folks might be feeling an afternoon slump, the learning and fun continued with a marine trivia hour over drinks and snacks, hosted by Edgar B. Herwick III from the WGBH Curiosity Desk. Teams wracked their brains through several rounds of tough questions and after an extremely close competition, team Nudi but Nice clinched the win by only ½ a point!
The Summit concluded with a marine art show: educators and artists showed and sold their art, inspired by their work with the ocean. Artwork ranged from photography, paintings, knit marine animals, algae pressings, and even pottery made with the shimmering purple sands found on local beaches.
Corrine Steever is a NEOSEC representative from the New England Aquarium and is serving on this year’s Ocean Literacy Summit Planning Committee. Corrine describes her NEOSEC role, “Because of the New England Aquarium’s role as the NEOSEC host institution, we always take a role in Summit planning. I am excited to be more involved with NEOSEC. I am energized by other NEOSEC members at our meetings. They made me want to be part of having a great Summit in Boston. Bringing together science and education is my world. We showcase teachers as scientists.”
Corrine is the Teacher Services Supervisor at the New England Aquarium Teacher Resource Center (TRC.) TRC supports teachers for grades pre-K to 12 as well as out-of-school instructors and informal educators. TRC offers a meeting place, free consultation appointments, research assistance, and access to a large collection of loan materials. TRC provides theme-based kits on a variety of topics to make ocean education engaging, inspiring, and informative. Most visitors are from New England, but they also come from around the world.
Growing up in Minnesota, Corrine did not originally dream of being a marine science educator. “Originally I was interested in the arts. But in my third year of college, I decided to major in biology with a minor in psychology. I was interested in animal behavior. I thought I would be a field researcher. Then I got a phone call from the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps. My friend had recommended me for a job in western Massachusetts teaching in a K-6 school along with doing trail work in the summer. Two things were new to me: teaching and eating vegetarian!”
Corrine discovered a love for education and wanted to balance that with her love for animals. “Next I took on an outdoor education role in Georgia. I also took care of their small animal collection, including a herp lab.” That gave her the hands-on animal experience for her next job at Zoo New England. She then moved into professional development programs at the zoo. “I helped educators enhance their lessons with an inquiry style of teaching. I felt impactful doing the professional development work. The ripple effect was much bigger than a single hour in a classroom.” Corrine was doing less direct animal care which had been her strong interest. She moved to the Denver Zoological Foundation where animal husbandry was a big part of her role, although she still worked in the education department alongside education staff. “I missed teaching and providing professional development. I was looking to get back to that when someone forwarded me the New England Aquarium position. I’m learning a lot on the job. I show teachers that it’s okay to not know everything. It’s more the style of teaching, not knowing every fact. Teachers can build context with students.”
Corrine addresses the occasional negative connotations some people may have about zoos and aquariums. “People may think ‘They’re caging animals. They’re out of their natural environment.’ There’s so much more to it. We help engage a connection with visitors. The animals act as ambassadors so that people want to protect, appreciate, and understand diverse life. The staff have a dedication to the work.”
Corrine is concerned that people are not having constructive communication. “It’s hard right now. There’s a divide that’s growing more. People share strong opinions on social media but don’t have a conversation. I think most of us aren’t at extreme ends. We can have productive dialogues. We need to understand why people feel the way they do. We need to work to help people understand the science of climate change. We need to address basic human needs: food, water, shelter, safe spaces.”
Corrine is proud of her adventurous spirit. “I’ve had a lot of different experiences. My past has given me a lot of confidence. I left Minnesota and just went for it. I became willing to move, be adventurous, and have curiosity. It was okay to not know people. Instead, I thought ‘Who am I going to meet? Who will give me insight into the world?’”
Thank you Corrine for bringing your can-do spirit to the New England Aquarium and NEOSEC!
Pam DiBona is the Executive Director of MassBays National Estuary Program and is serving on the Ocean Literacy Summit Planning Committee. Pam is not just a long-time supporter of NEOSEC; she helped develop NEOSEC while working at the New England Aquarium as program manager for the Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence – New England (COSEE NE). “My first day at work in November 2005, I attended a planning meeting focused on launching NEOSEC as a COSEE NE project. Ocean Literacy principles had just been finalized, and the group at that meeting decided that we could structure the Collaborative around those principles and a Summit to bring them to New England educators. I had helped build collaborative groups at previous jobs, and knew that we could build something that would be better than the sum of the parts.”
After 7 years as NEOSEC Program Manager, Pam became ’MassBays’ Executive Director in January 2013. “Being part of NEOSEC had been personally and professionally gratifying, so when I moved to MassBays, I signed us up right away.” The mission of MassBays ties in with that of NEOSEC. “We spend a lot of time talking with municipalities, spreading ocean literacy to decision makers and residents in coastal towns.” With its Healthy Estuaries Grant Program, MassBays serves as the catalyst for projects that test out new ways of gathering information to fill in data gaps. “We are at the nexis between research and practical action. With each proposal we fund, we ask ‘What problem are we trying to address and how will this lead to some practical action?’”
MassBays is one of 28 National Estuary Programs around the country established under section 320 of the Clean Water Act, and administered by EPA to protect and restore water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance. MassBays is dedicated to protecting, restoring, and enhancing the estuarine resources of Ipswich Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and Cape Cod Bay. This region covers more than 1,000 miles of coastline and serves 50 coastal communities. With such a large area, MassBays has teamed up with partnering organizations to host regional coordinators in five coastal subregions: upper north shore, lower north shore, metro Boston, south shore, and Cape Cod. “The regional coordinators convene stakeholders to find out things like ‘What are the issues we should deal with? What are the priorities?’”
Pam has a strong science background. After getting a BA in Biochemistry from Connecticut College, Pam briefly worked at a research lab. Deciding to change her direction, she then worked at an environmental consulting firm, Eastern Research Group. She was privy to political conversations in Washington D.C. about drinking water legislation. “Scientists were talking to policymakers and not speaking the same language.” She returned to graduate school to “position myself as a translator between science and policy.” While studying for her MS in Environmental Science at UMass Boston, Pam interned with the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, which is a cross-divisional group between the Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General’s office. This confirmed her strong interest in environmental policy. After completing her MS, she coordinated environmental affairs for Charles River Watershed Association, was VP of Policy for Environmental League of Massachusetts and a registered lobbyist at the Massachusetts State House, and then was Chief of Staff at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. These roles had something in common: “I enjoy pulling together complex partnerships to get good work done.”
Pam describes one initiative when she knew her work made a difference. “I was working at the Environmental League of Massachusetts. I led the charge to pass the MA Beach Act that requires monitoring of water quality at public and semi-public beaches. This was in 2003. I wrote the bill, led testimony hearings, and organized rallies on the State House steps. I teamed up with MassPIRG (now Environment Massachusetts) to do a door-to-door postcard campaign. When the bill passed, I got to fly to Nantucket to see Governor Celluci sign it into law!”
Pam is saddened by the recent revelations that people knew about impacts of climate change decades ago [referencing 8/31/18 New York Times Sunday Magazine article https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/podcasts/the-daily/climate-change-losing-earth.html.] “People were looking at climate change and deciding not to do anything. It was the next person’s problem. It’s been 30 years, and we could have avoided so much pain for so many communities.”
Thank you Pam for committing your career to helping our environment and for your work with NEOSEC!
Elaine Brewer is the NEOSEC representative from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and is serving on this year’s Ocean Literacy Summit Planning Committee. “I like helping. It’s fun!”
Elaine’s long experience with NEOSEC is valuable to the committee. In her previous role at another Massachusetts agency, Elaine was the NEOSEC representative and was in the midst of her year as NEOSEC chair. When she moved to her current agency, she advocated that they join NEOSEC. How does the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife tie to NEOSEC’s vision? “It sounds kind of odd. It’s an inland agency. But all watersheds lead to the ocean.” She went on to speak about NEOSEC’s involvement with citizen science. “Learning how to incorporate citizen science more in what our agency does is a huge benefit to us. In return, we can make that connection of watersheds to the ocean, expanding NEOSEC’s goal of increasing ocean literacy to more inland areas.”
The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is responsible for terrestrial and aquatic species which entails managing, protecting, and regulating harvest. Elaine is responsible for the communications highlighting species of greatest conservation need within Massachusetts, including those protected under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. “Massachusetts has its own Endangered Species Act, which protects species within the state on top of the federal Act. For example, leatherback sea turtles are listed as endangered on both the federal and state lists. Bald eagles, however, are not listed federally, but are listed in Massachusetts because their population numbers aren’t as high as our experts would like them to be.”
Elaine’s background isn’t in communications though, it’s in the sciences. She knew she wanted to be a marine biologist since she was three years old. “We took a family vacation to the Cape. It was the first time I saw a shark, and it was just on the beach, thrashing about. I couldn’t understand why people weren’t trying to push it back into the water, since it obviously wasn’t comfortable on land. Since then I have wanted to learn more and conserve.” Elaine admits it took awhile to determine her area of focus but a part-time job spurred her interest in science communication. “I went to grad school at night and worked at a nonprofit museum during the day, doing information education. I taught all sorts of marine science to kids of all ages during the school year. In the summer I ran a fishing camp where I taught anglers to not just fish, but to really be connected with the outside world, to experience it fully and understand their impacts on the environment.” Elaine finds joy in her work, transforming sometimes heavy scientific information into something that people can relate to and get excited about. “People sometimes write to me or visit the office to show off a project they worked on to help an area near them or start a coastal cleanup. It’s rewarding to see what I do actually makes a difference at some level.”
Elaine is concerned about the growing difficulty of educating people about the environment. “You’d think it would be easier with electronic newsletters and social media and things like YouTube. But we’re still battling with all of the other information out there. There are algorithms and statistics, and newer and newer methods of communication that we are constantly trying to keep up with. Sometimes you hit a wall and can’t think up any other creative ways to get your information out there. But then you find that crack in the wall and break through. It’s challenging and frustrating, but still worth every second put in.”
Elaine is proud that she never lost sight of what she wanted to do. “The species might have changed from oceanic to inland, but I am still focused on learning and conservation. I get to do really exciting things for my job. I’m glad I didn’t stray from that.” Elaine, thank you for your science communication role in NEOSEC and the Massachusetts Divisions of Fisheries and Wildlife!
MITS, Inc. in collaboration with the Lloyd Center for the Environment and the South Shore Natural Science Center, will be holding a two-day workshop for grades 4-8 educators on March 17th and 18th. It will highlight inquiry-based activities that engage participants in hands-on, minds-on learning. Click here for more information.
On April 29th, Seven dinners on the same night at friends’ homes. Each dinner includes a presenter whose topic is connected to our mission. This year the theme is Voyaging to Rivers, Bays and Oceans worldwide. Humans and the oceans are inextricably linked. Click here for more information.
For more information, including descriptions of each session and an event flyer, please visit our website! Please help us to spread the word about this exciting event.
MME Marine Art Contest
The annual MME Marine Art Contest is now underway, and the theme for this year is “Exploring the Marine Biodiversity of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.” There are five contest divisions: K-4, 5-8, 9-12, scientific illustration, and computer graphics.
Winning entries will be posted on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary website (http://stellwagen.noaa.gov), as well as used by the sanctuary and MME in their outreach programs. Notification and certificates will be sent to the participating teachers or individual students at their schools.
Click here for an event flyer and application form. Please share and/or post with your colleagues! Winning entries from 2016 can be viewed here.
The annual MA Marine Educators’ annual marine art contest is underway with a deadline of April 28. All students in grades K-12 are invited to participate. Entry is free. The theme is “Exploring marine biodiversity at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.” Winning art is incorporated into an annual calendar and tours the region in a traveling exhibit. Click here for more information.
Zephyr Education Foundation is once again hosting school class field trips in Woods Hole.
The program consists of a hands-on 1 1/2 hour scientific cruise on Vineyard Sound, time spent in WHOI’s specimen tank room, a tour of one of the scientific docks, and time with our Augmented Reality Coastal Processes Modeling System. Visits to WHOI’s Exhibit Center and NOAA’s Science Aquarium can also be arranged. Each year over 2000 students come to Woods Hole and participate in our program. See our website www.zephyrmarine.org and/or email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org