Maymont Receives $449,224 Grant for Watershed Education from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Environmental Education at Maymont


Release Date: September 25, 2018

Maymont has been awarded a $449,224 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, which funds locally relevant, authentic experiential learning for K-12 audiences through Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) – multi‐stage activities that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom and aim to increase understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, riverine, estuarine, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Through the B-WET program, Maymont will implement its Bay Watershed in Science Education (B-WISE) project in collaboration with Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS), the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education, Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and Keep Henrico Beautiful to give Henrico County Public Schools the ability to provide MWEEs over the next three years and on a sustainable basis moving forward. This three-year project will engage approximately 7,200 students and 240 sixth grade science and core content teachers in Henrico County Public Schools, and will extend to all twelve middle schools in Henrico County with a phased roll-out, beginning with Short Pump, Rolfe, Elko and Hungary Creek in the first year.

In addition, Maymont is partnering with WCVE Science Matters, to produce videos that will feature teachers and students engaged in the project throughout the grant period. The segments will be shown on the Science Matters page of the WCVE website, the Maymont website and on all partner websites.

HCPS is the sixth largest district in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and serves more than 51,000 students in 72 educational facilities from diverse neighborhoods including suburban, rural and urban populations and twenty-one Title I schools. Most of the middle schools in Henrico are located within 10 miles of the James River and its various tributaries.

“We’re delighted to provide NOAA B-WET funding to support Maymont and its partners on this project,” said Sean Corson, acting director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office. “Their thoughtful approach to working environmental education into all 6th grade classrooms will ensure that for years to come Henrico County middle school students will learn the skills necessary to be the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards.”

Henrico County Public Schools Superintendent, Amy Cashwell, looks forward to making immersive and authentic watershed experiences available throughout the school district. “The Bay Watershed in Science Education program will allow Henrico students and teachers an opportunity to engage in the Henrico Deeper Learning pillars that state learning is anytime, anywhere; is authentic and connected; is student-owned, and, is community supported.” she said. “Throughout their Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, students will be empowered with the knowledge, skills, attributes, and experiences to be stewards of our environment and, ultimately, life ready.”

“We’re excited to be partnering with these remarkable organizations to serve both educators and young students in the local community,” said Parke Richeson, Maymont Executive Director. “By providing hands-on field investigations here at Maymont, students will become more engaged in their learning and will gain an understanding of the environmental issues affecting our local watersheds. The impact of this project will be long-lasting because Maymont’s professional development workshops will make it possible for Henrico County Public Schools to provide sustainable educational experiences to students for many years to come.”

This project will be a significant component of a broader systemic program already underway in HCPS emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) curriculum. The two-day professional development workshops, sample curriculum, and supplemental online teacher training module provided by The VCU School of Education will extend to English, Math, Art and STEAM teachers, enabling teachers from multiple disciplines to work together in an immersive experience to incorporate conservation and stewardship into their classrooms.

Since 2002, NOAA has awarded over $75 million to support more than 670 B-WET projects across seven areas of the country: California, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawai’i, New England, and the Pacific Northwest. Regional implementation allows the B-WET program to connect grantees to local NOAA assets and relevant Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) expertise, while being responsive to local education and environmental priorities. Results of a 2017 analysis of national evaluation data showed that professional development increases teachers’ watershed literacy, confidence, and intention to implement MWEEs. And, as a result of participating in MWEEs, students improved in a range of environmental stewardship and science literacy outcomes, such as expressing greater concern for their watershed, being more engaged in their learning, and increasing their understanding of the nature of scientific research. To read more about the NOAA’s B-WET program, visit

Maymont is a 100-acre American estate maintained and operated by the nonprofit Maymont Foundation since 1975. Thanks to personal donations and grants received from organizations such as NOAA, Maymont serves over 18,000 students annually. For more information about the B-WISE project and Maymont’s involvement, call 804-358-7166, ext. 308.

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