2015 heralded in a new GOMI initiative called Learning to Steward the Gulf (L2SG). After sixteen years of providing community-based stewardship (CBS)* learning opportunities for youths GOMI shifted emphasis to professional development for teachers. This shift enables GOMI to reach ever-increasing numbers of teachers, students and their communities. Twenty-four teachers from throughout the watershed have already joined the L2SG initiative. Since joining, they have been meeting individually and collectively with GOMI staff to design and implement community-based place-based learning experiences for their students. The first GOMI residential workshop for teachers was held in June 2016 in Massachusetts and the second will be held in June 2017 at Acadia University, Wolfeville Nova Scotia. Teachers and their students form the nucleus of a developing L2SG community. This community is being broadened and deepened to include scientists, planners, parents, and citizens.
The approach envisions teachers as cultural transmitters. Year one teachers have focused on assisting NOAA scientists in Gulf of Maine Drifters initiative, an on-going study of Gulf currents. This initiative allows schools and communities to effectively participate in locally designed and implemented projects as part of an on-going NOAA initiative to study ocean currents (for more see Ocean Drifters.) Future projects will include invasive species, tidal energy and other projects that connect the local to the bioregional.
Summer 2017 will combine the groups into the first joint 3-day workshop at Acadia University. This conference is to be the prototype for the 2018 inauguration of an annual watershed conference. That conference will include as stakeholders scientists, planners, parents, and citizens. Having formed the nucleus of our L2SG community, we will with determination broaden and deepen it for subsequent conferences.
*CBS promotes learning experientially rooted in the community – the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature and art of a specific place. GOMI emphasizes civic engagement, the act(s) of doing something concrete and beneficial to improve, understand, remedy or protect.