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Learning to Steward the Gulf



This is a time for action.  Our eco-home, the Gulf of Maine Watershed (GMW), is in need of our help.  A provider of food, water, recreation, economic stability and spiritual renewal it is a life source.  Among the richest bioregions on Earth and the GMW is home to multitudes of animal and plant species.  Together, they, and we form a complex, diverse and interdependent ecosystem imposed upon which are multiple human political subsystems and interests.  Our eco-home includes much of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, all of Maine, and large portions of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  While it is well understood, fin and shellfish, tourism and recreation industries bring billions to the economies of New England and the Maritimes the interdependence of a healthy watershed, that is biologically diverse, and a healthy human ecology is less understood.  We rise or fall together. The biological health is severely suffering from climate change.  The Gulf itself is warming faster than any other comparable body of water on Earth.  The effects are disturbing and the need for action acute.  Bio-indicators that show things are amiss abound and the growing list includes:


  • Rising coastal and inland waters.

  • Heat waves and powerful storms.

  • Shellfish disruption, including clams and mussels.

  • Arrival and proliferation of southern species of fishes, such as black sea bass and butterfish.

  • Movement farther north of cod, herring, and hake seeking colder waters.

  • Disruption in the breeding and chick rearing of native bird species such as puffins due to loss of herring as a prime food source.

  • The invasion of tunicates and other non-indigenous harmful species.

  • Shifts in red tide density and movement.


         Related to these bio-indicators are other equally important human impact threats.  As coastal communities are, to varying degrees, preparing to meet the threats of storm surge, their attention is often narrowly focused on remedial efforts to prevent flooding.  The larger eco-threat, loss of biodiversity, is not within their focus.  This eco-myopic view is, even more, the case for those who do not live on or around the coast.  They too often see no threat at all from climate change.  The call action, as GOMI hears it, is to help form and facilitate a larger community to learn and work together on how best to educate our future citizens and scientists to meet challenges.  We see a need to:


  • Teach youths why a healthy watershed includes biodiversity and how science and civic engagement can help us do that.

  • Support and motivate teachers, as cultural transmitters, to hone their skills and approaches to prepare students to meet the challenges.

  • Engage the scientific community to join as partners with teachers by providing them and their students opportunities to participate in on-going local research and action.

  • Create public forums to engage communities in constructive conversations that open windows of awareness and doors to action, such as Climate Change Café events and bioregional conferences.




After sixteen years in the forefront of providing CBS learning opportunities for youth, last year GOMI shifted emphasis to professional development for teachers.  This shift results from a yearlong BOD study on how best to prepare future leaders to meet climate change challenges.  Unanimously the BOD concluded working with teachers and the scientific community to bring students into hands-on encounters with the challenges is by far the most effective and far-reaching way for GOMI to make its contributions.  We have named this initiative, Learning to Steward the Gulf (L2SG). 

L2S embraces three overlapping strategic directions:

1.    Teacher professional development

2.    Civic engagement

3.    Communications

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