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QACPS Works With Local Partners to Engage Students As Early As Kindergarten

in Outdoor Education, Environmental Field Experiences and Watershed Issue Investigations


CENTREVILLE, MD – Queen Anne’s County Public Schools (QACPS) is providing students in kindergarten through third grade with more outdoor education, field experiences, and science-and place-based learning opportunities aligned with the Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards.  The K-3 program was the basis of the new QACPS Environmental Literacy Plan for K-12, which includes outdoor experiences at every grade level and is unprecedented on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The overall plan is the culmination of the hard-work of QACPS teachers, Science Supervisor Michael Page, and school system partners. 


“Our partners truly enhance the education of our students,” said QACPS Superintendent 

Dr. Andrea Kane, co-chair of the national Superintendents Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC). “Our new environmental literacy plan helps our teachers prepare children to be good environmental stewards while they develop the skills and knowledge needed to pursue emerging careers.” 


QACPS piloted its plan in grades K-3 last school year before implementing this year. The Chesapeake Bay Trust provided an $80,000 grant in 2017 to restore and build new schoolyard environmental habitats at all eight Queen Anne's County public elementary schools to serve as outdoor classrooms suitable for addressing and investigating watershed issues, stormwater runoff, species diversity, native plants, and pollinator habitat. 


“The Trust is thrilled to be a part of a partnership that takes environmental science outside of the classroom and supports teachers with the necessary tools to guide the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards,” said Dr. Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.


The Chesapeake Bay Trust in partnership with Environmental Concern, Inc., provided school-yard field experiences for K-3 utilizing environmental habitats at each elementary school and offering an opportunity for students to practice science skills in an outdoor setting. 


“We are connecting children with nature through observation, investigation, and creation. The students are exposed to a natural habitat in their schoolyards, encouraging them at a young age to respect and care for the natural environment and to share this knowledge at school, at home, and in their communities,” said Suzanne Pittenger-Slear, President of Environmental Concern Inc., a not-for-profit corporation based in St. Michaels, MD. 


Early partnerships with the Washington College Center for Environment & Society began development of the QACPS Environmental Literacy Plan and were supported by funding from the federal Math Science Partnership and NOAA B-WET grants. Teachers received 75 hours of professional development between 2013-2017, including the “Rivers to the Bay” program designed by Dr. Douglas Levin of Washington College. The plan’s development continued with a team of dedicated teachers developing the backbone for the plan, adding curriculum in 2017-2018 and full implementation for students in 2019. 


Environmental Concern and the Washington College Center for Environment & Society are providing resources at each grade level to support the primary teacher's role in developing environmentally-literate citizens in Queen Anne's County. 


“As a QACPS and Washington College graduate, it has been extra fulfilling and exciting to watch this process come to fruition. The teachers’ commitment, willingness to adjust teaching strategies, and enthusiasm for teaching and learning new content and science practices is amazing!” said Jemima Clark, Education Program Manager, Washington College Center for Environment and Society


The QACPS Environmental Literacy Plan blends in-class lessons, teacher professional development, on-campus action projects and field experiences for students to receive a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE).



Queen Anne’s County Public Schools' (QACPS) is a high-performing, a small rural school system on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with 14 schools and more than 1,000 employees, supporting the success of 7,800 children in prekindergarten-to-grade 12. Its vision, mission, and core values are based upon a commitment to ensure all children receive a rigorous academic program in a safe, respectful, and caring learning environment. QACPS recognizes and values the importance of close partnerships among school staff, parents, community members, and business partners in preparing all students to meet or exceed standards and graduate high school on time, and college-, career-, and civic-ready to be globally competitive.


The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization established by the Maryland General Assembly dedicated to improving the natural resources of Maryland and the Chesapeake region through environmental education, community engagement, and local watershed restoration. The Trust’s grantees engage hundreds of thousands of individuals annually in projects that have a measurable impact on the waterways and other natural resources of the region. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Chesapeake license plate, donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from Maryland’s online boating, fishing, and hunting license system, contributions from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal, state, and local governments. The Trust has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for fourteen years: 92 percent of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its restoration and education programs.


Environmental Concern Inc. (EC) is a  public, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, located in St. Michaels, Maryland.  EC’s mission is to promote the public understanding and stewardship of wetlands with the goal of improving water quality and enhancing natural habitats through wetland outreach and education, native species horticulture and the restoration, construction and enhancement of wetlands. 


The Center for Environment and Society at Washington College has a vision of a Chesapeake Bay and watershed that is healthy and thriving; one in which natural systems and human communities are in balance. Its interdisciplinary academic programs promote the integration of environmental issues, social values, and good old river mud.