Group of teachers standing at a boat dock


Teachers on the Bay is an immersive professional development opportunity for K-12 educaters that teach within our watershed boundaries. Our first Teacher on the Bay program was held in 2023 and funded through a NOAA Bay Watershed and Education Training. We expect to offer this early summer program annually starting in 2025. Stay tuned for future offerings! 

Funding: $100,000 NOAA Bay Watershed and Education Training Grant
Years: 2022-2025

NOAA B-WET provides competitive funding to support locally-relevant, authentic experiential learning for K–12 audiences.

  • Teachers and students explore the cultural, economic, and environmental importance of Pensacola Bay System oysters as a fishery industry and as habitat. Recent investments in research, restoration, and aquaculture efforts serves as local case studies for student led inquiry into complex watershed issues and increase stewardship of the bay.
  • Year 1 of our project engaged teachers in a weeklong immersive workshop on Pensacola Bay oysters
  • The workshop included a guided kayak tour of the East Bay Oyster Restoration Reef, oyster spat monitoring training with FWC, tours of oysters farms, nurseries and hatcheries, visits to living shoreline projects, and much more!
  • Years 2-3 focus on classroom implementation by engaging local students in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) to monitor oyster spat recruitment across the bay
  • Teachers were provided with stipends for participating in the workshop as well as transportation, substitute teacher, and supply costs for student field trips

Two students in water using seine net



 Page under construction - Field Trip details coming soon




Project: Enhancing Community Resilience through Water-borne Trash Removal and Reduction
Funding: EPA Trash Free Waters $297,220
Years: 2020-2024

Land-borne trash that humans dispose of on the landscape eventually makes its way into our waterways, threatening our habitats and species that live there. Through this project we assessed how much land-borne trash was accumulating in three urban creeks in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties: Jones, Carpenter, and Pond Creeks. Litter booms were placed downstream in each creek and monitored regularly to quantify the amount and type of trash entering the creeks.  Litter booms were monitored for over 2 years from 2021 to 2023 with 257 volunteers participating in 129 cleanups that resulted in over 6,600 lbs of litter being removed. 

Student field trips and cleanups were held at the creeks and local schools alongside the development of trash free waters curriculum. Participating programs included West Florida High School, Pace High School, Creative Learning Academy, Gulf Breeze High School, Workman Middle School, Coastline Christian Academy, and Wild and Free Northwest Florida. The introductory lesson gets students acquainted with basic ecological concepts by guiding them through discussions about watersheds and the importance of estuarine ecosystems. The lesson wraps up by tying in how trash negatively affects these environments and how the Estuary Program’s Trash Free Waters Project aims to mitigate the issue. As the school year progressed, students learned more about how to monitor, collect, and analyze data about litter on their own campus so they could develop strategies to prevent and reduce trash from escaping into nearby waterways. The third and final lesson offered was a field trip to one of the monitoring sites, so that students could see the litter booms at work.

Students with cleanup supplies

Over 890 elementary, middle and high school students reached through the implementation of the Trash Free Waters curriculum and associated educational programming.  Two partnering schools participated in the Trash Free Waters Clean Campus Design Competition where they took lessons learned from the course curriculum, coupled with their own research through a campus case study, to develop trash prevention and removal techniques that could be implemented on their campus. The funds were split between two participating High Schools to cover material costs associated with their proposed projects. The projects demonstrated a direct connection to the overarching goals of the Trash Free Waters Project which include cleaner, healthier waters through the reduction of water-borne litter and an educated and engaged community.  For example, they used funds to purchase receptacles for the schools’ campus, design educational signage, and purchase supplies for clean-up of problem areas. Students at West Florida High School that participated in the Trash Free Waters lessons during the 2022-2023 school year will use the data collected during their case study activity to design research-style posters and share this information with their campus community. Marine science students at Gulf Breeze High School have collaborated with the Art Club to design storm drain marking stencils and will use supplies to mark drains and educate others on the importance of keeping the drains clean and clear.

photo of educational sign and tshirt design




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