Emily Flaherty, Ocean Literacy Educator for Salem Sound Coastwatch, talks with Rob about engaging people with citizen science to become better stewards and take better care of the watersheds and coastal systems. Emily has the pleasure of seeing school students “blossom” when making discoveries in the out-of-doors. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students spend weeks in summer learning about watersheds and coasts. Last year the focus was on eelgrass, how it is essential habitat for wildlife and how eel grass is effected by people in many different ways (pollution, dredging, sediments, anchoring). Students designed traps, square or round, and caught green crabs. They measured crabs and reported to a researcher. The next summer the focus was on sewage and storm water outflow into Salem Sound. Students walked the shore examining the effects of storm drains and pollution. Manhole covers were lifted and pipelines examined.
Fifth graders learn about how water flows through the community in a program called Keeping Water Clean. Salem Sound Coastwatch has received funding for a variety of programs: Healthy Harbors with service learning, NOAA Be-Wet (Watershed Education and Teaching) in local middle schools, seventh grade learning to read maps and understand topography, where water flows and how it connects to their neighborhoods.