After a week-long field experience, student leaders presented their final project at 50 Forward. Photo Credit: Loren Barnett/CBF Staff

Driving Environmental Literacy

CBF's Environmental Education Program operates on two basic principles:

  • Education is an essential long-term investment in the health of the Chesapeake, and
  • The place to teach people about the Bay watershed is outside, on our rivers, streams, and Bay.

That simple foundation has grown into the largest environmental education program of its kind in the United States. Each year, CBF provides hands-on learning experiences to over 30,000 students at 15 education centers that stretch from Pennsylvania to the mouth of the Chesapeake in Virginia. These experiences are led by skilled, passionate field instructors aboard our fleet of canoes and Chesapeake-inspired workboats and at our residential centers on islands in the Bay.

To those founding principles, education staff helped integrate our on-the-water field programs into the classroom and lab curricula of the schools we serve. For that reason, Chesapeake Classrooms is a major feature of our program today, providing accredited, five-day, in-the field summer institutes to help educators incorporate environmental literacy into their classrooms. These courses, begun in 1977, have trained more than 10,000 public and private school teachers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in disciplines ranging from science and social studies to creative writing. Recently, we've expanded our reach to school principals so they can institute schoolwide sustainability programs and better support their teachers and students in active, outdoor learning.

Over the years, the power of CBF's Environmental Education Program has been confirmed by rigorous evaluations and celebrated with both regional and national awards. It has been a prime driver in the establishment of environmental literacy goals for public schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Perhaps the best evidence of the Environmental Education Program's impact came from veteran field instructor Tiffany Granberg, who once remarked, "I know it works. I can see it in their eyes."

50 Forward Photo Album

From July 10 through July 14, 2017, 72 self-selected student leaders from throughout the watershed explored their environment, communities, and connection to clean water as part of CBF's 50 Forward Student Leadership Program.

Sidebar Photos: 1. Kevin O'Hara, 2. CBF Staff, 3. Robert Miller.