Empowering Educators through Living Laboratories

The Takeaway: The Teachers on the Estuary program offers educators a way to access hands-on learning experiences at the Tijuana River Research Reserve. This effort enhances science education and promotes estuary stewardship for the next generation.

Several people stand on a gravel path taking notes.
Teachers measuring wind speed and direction for a weather station school program activity.

Participants in the Teachers on the Estuary program, presented by the Tijuana River Research Reserve and guided by staff educators and scientists, learned how to integrate local weather and water quality data into their lesson plans. The reserve’s education coordinator highlighted the significance of using place-based data to connect to local science and management—a unique aspect of the program not found elsewhere. The program showcases the effectiveness of the national reserve system in enhancing local experiences while simultaneously reducing education expenses at the state and community levels, all by taking learning out of the abstract and into the outdoors.

Four people examine plants while taking notes.
A Research Associate demonstrates percent cover vegetation sampling technique to teachers.

The Teachers on the Estuary program, offered at most of the 30 research reserves, transforms the nation’s estuaries into a classroom for educators with approximately 489 teachers participating annually. Teachers can use what they’ve learned to enhance science education by using field trips and ready-made curricula. The program deepens their understanding of estuary science and involves students in local environmental changes. It also connects teachers, students, and scientists, offering opportunities to participate in field trips and community conservation projects, ultimately transforming communities.

For more information about the Teachers on the Estuary program, visit NOAA’s website to find workshops near you. (2023)

Partners: NNOAA Office for Coastal Management, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve