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“Watershed Wisdom” Lesson Plan Receives National Award

Image of individuals standing outside with the caption "Ideas needed!"

As teachers and students start a new school year, they can celebrate national honors for the Watershed Wisdom lessons that focus on maintaining healthy water quality and watersheds.

Watershed Wisdom earned a Grand Award from the 2021 APEX Awards for Excellence in the category of Campaigns, Programs & Plans. The APEX judges said Watershed Wisdom is “one of the best” educational programs to emerge during the coronavirus pandemic following a shift to online educational settings. 

The lessons are a collaborative effort of the NC Watershed Stewardship Network (NCWSN), with key support from North Carolina Sea Grant, the NC Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), Project WET, PBS North Carolina, City of Raleigh Stormwater, Town of Hillsborough Stormwater, and Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, with funding from GSK. 

Christy Perrin, sustainable waters and communities coordinator for the state’s Sea Grant and WRRI programs, credits the partnership with PBS North Carolina as critical to the success. “They led the development of Watershed Wisdom,” she says. 

The team combined efforts for a Learning from Home guide that provided accessibility for students who were learning remotely as the COVID pandemic emerged in 2020. 

Alongside Perrin, the project has had leadership from Paula Edelson of PBS North Carolina and Lauren Daniel of the NC Division of Water Resources Educational Programs. The team had several goals in developing a product capable of teaching students while also “getting students outdoors, empowering them” to learn more about watersheds, Perrin notes. 

More than 9,000 K-12 educators and students throughout North Carolina already have accessed the educational activities that include options for in-person sessions indoors and outdoors, as well as remote learning. Schools across the state continue to use Watershed Wisdom to help students learn about the water cycle, consider how to keep our water clean and safe, and take interest in their local waterways.

Watershed Wisdom is divided into different sessions and activities, including entirely online components like “Ways of Watersheds.” The APEX judges cited that element as “the highlight” of Watershed Wisdom, “a colorful, engaging lesson explaining how crucial watersheds are to healthy water.” 

The complete Watershed Wisdom lessons can be accessed for free. They will be featured as the “Coastwatch Classroom” topic in the upcoming issue of Coastwatch magazine from NC Sea Grant.