Learning to steward for community and environmental health.
GOMI’s Mission is to engage teachers, students, and scientists in the preservation of the Gulf of Maine (GoM) and its watershed. We do this by partnering with educators, schools, environmental nonprofits, and other community organizations to bring Community-Based Stewardship (CBS) into classrooms throughout the Gulf.
CBS promotes experiential learning, rooted in and with the community. By focusing on the uniqueness of a specific place and its connection to the GoM bio-region, CBS emphasizes civic engagement: the act(s) of doing something concrete and beneficial to understand, improve, remedy, and protect the natural and cultural environment.
What we're currently doing
Working with teachers to reach young people.
In 2015, GOMI shifted its focus from summer institutes to CBS sites in schools. Since then, GOMI has been making connections with different schools along the Gulf of Maine Watershed, and working with teachers to establish Gulf of Maine studies courses. These courses challenge students to engage directly with community stakeholders and address issues related to climate change through hands-on projects.
While each site operates independently, all of the teachers we work with are brought together annually to collaborate in a Professional Development Conference, where they get to strategize for the year ahead and connect with community partners. GOMI works to create opportunities for the students to connect across sites with each other and their communities. During the COVID crisis, we are hosting virtual conferences for the teachers to work together and for students to share their work with each other while still maintaining social distancing.
Our various media -- the website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook -- also work as tools for connection, creating virtual spaces where students can inspire each other, share their work or observations, and come together for important dialogues.
All of our work is made possible through collaborations with other community organizations and specialists, who bring the science to the classroom or the class to the outdoors. We are constantly devising ways to build our network and create opportunities for cross-site, Gulf-wide collaboration.
Gulf of Maine Temperature Variability , by Jill Pelto, illustrates rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine waters.
Responding to the threat of Climate Change
Gulf of Maine waters are warming faster than 99% of the ocean.
Climate change is going to affect every region of the world, with catastrophic consequences human, animal and plant life. In the Gulf of Maine, some of these effects are already being felt. They Include:
- Increases in precipitation with more extreme climate events
-Increases in ocean and land temperatures
- Shifts in animal populations which cause disruption to fisheries and marine economies, as well as shifting pest patterns that affect agriculture
- Increases in nuisance flooding along coastal communities
- Sea level rise, with approximately 8 inches of rise since 1912. 1 to 4 feet anticipated by 2100.
- Destruction of animal and plant habitat causing population shift and possible exterpation
At GOMI, we are working with teachers along the Gulf of Maine to create GoM studies courses that focus on the connections between the Gulf of Maine and climate change.
Students in these classes participate in hands-on projects that get them to engage with their local ecosystem and community. They work with real life problems to increase their understanding or find more sustainable solutions. In the past, students in these courses have tracked sea temperatures and currents using ocean drifters in collaboration with NOAA, engaged in conversations with experts in the field through climate cafés, and even taken the lead on a lighthouse restoration project.
Community based stewardship
GROUNDING OUR PROJECTS
In order to ensure that each of our sites operates within a CBS framework -- that is, experiential learning rooted in and within the community -- we support our teachers to ensure that they're incorporating GoM related projects into their curriculum; designing their approaches to be field based and interdisciplinary; implementing hands on experiences; sustaining their projects though community support; and evaluating their courses to ensure student engagement and community impact.
Overall, each of our sites must:
- Promote civic engagement through action with community partners,
-Address state standards,
- Foster a unique connection to the Gulf of Maine watershed and climate change,
- Be science-based with an interdisciplinary lens,
- Be student-centered.