Blaine fifth graders to get first-hand look at water quality

Published on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 by Brandy Kiger Shreve

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Fifth graders at Blaine Elementary School will once again have the opportunity to learn about the local aquatic environment through “The Garden of the Salish Sea”curriculum program that will kickoff on April 11. 

The program was created in 2012 by the Puget Sound Restoration Fund  (PSRF) as an environmental science curriculum and 
community outreach program. 

Founded in 1997, PSRF is dedicated exclusively to restoring marine habitat, water quality and native species in Puget Sound. 

The program uses shellfish to teach pollution prevention and watershed quality management, and it debuted in Blaine schools last year. “It made sense to start here,” said Julie Hirsch, a water quality scientist and PRSF member. “The oyster beds are right here.”

Hirsch said that teachers and students embraced the program when it launched in 2012, and since then the program has expanded, with the Lummi Island Beach School participating as well. 

“It’s a stewardship program that’s being integrated into schools with a biology curriculum,” said water quality scientist Julie Hirsch. “We try to inspire students to work with their families to practice watershed-friendly management habits.”

The program is designed around field trip experiences where students are able to examine shellfish, and those trips are supported by classroom sessions and lesson plans geared around watershed health.

“We get them out on the oyster beds,” Hirsch said. “Our goal is to help them connect the dots from what they are learning as a student to how it impacts the community. It’s great because they can walk to their field trips – it’s right in their backyard.”

The curriculum meets grade-level expectations for grades 4–8 and adheres to state standards. It is available to teachers, home school groups, educators and policy makers who share a commitment to restore and conserve marine habitat wherever they live.

The program also provides high school students opportunities for senior culminating projects with exposure to real world experiences that can make a difference in their community, linking water quality to a healthy shellfish harvest and marine resources.

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