Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program serves a vital role among NOAA’s GLRI-funded initiatives: supporting environmental education among the region’s youth.  The Great Lakes B-WET is part of a national program committed to promoting meaningful, locally relevant, experiential learning for K-12 students and professional development in environmental education for their teachers.

Using the environment to help advance student learning and problem-solving abilities has been shown to increase academic performance and enthusiasm for learning.  The B-WET program was established with this objective in mind, as well as the long-term goal of fostering a citizenry capable of understanding and contributing positively to aquatic ecosystems.

With this goal in mind, the Great Lakes B-WET program offers competitive grants to support existing environmental education programs, foster the growth of new programs, and encourage development of partnerships among environmental education programs throughout the Great Lakes.

B-WET funding recipients work across multiple Great Lakes states and range from programs in Chicago and Detroit to those in more rural areas of the region.  They include public school districts, universities, Sea Grant programs, nonprofit organizations, and zoological societies and museums.  Great Lakes B-WET initiatives include professional development for teachers to integrate Great Lakes literacy principles into school-wide curricula, combined classroom lessons and vessel-based experiential learning, watershed restoration service projects, and many others.  The common thread across programs is their commitment to Great Lakes watershed education and active engagement with this natural resource to foster student learning.


Superior 6th graders review a map of their hometown watershed. Credit: Lake Superior NERR.

B-WET Program Highlight:

Superior Rivers2Lake Program

Summer 2012 marked the launch of the Lake Superior Rivers2Lake program in Superior, Wisconsin.  This program, which reaches elementary through high school students, is now at the heart of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve’s (NERR) education and outreach efforts.  With the support of B-WET funding, NERR educators have been able to work closely with teachers from both Wisconsin and Minnesota to provide students with meaningful educational experiences on the St. Louis River, a federal Area of Concern (AOC), and in the Lake Superior Watershed.  Activities include weekly visits to neighborhood wetlands, where students have tested water quality, analyzed the collected data, shared findings with other schools, and engaged their communities through public presentations.  Teachers and students also have access to the NERR’s outstanding technological and educational resources; indeed, participating students have taken field trips to the NERR, used regional research vessels as an off-site classroom, and used sophisticated Great Lakes monitoring equipment in the freshwater estuary.  The response to Rivers2Lake has been overwhelmingly positive; as one participant comments, because of the program, “We’re becoming wildlife warriors.”


2016 Grantees — TBD


2012 B-WET Grantees (Click here for descriptions of grantee programs). 


2013 B-WET Grantees (Click here for descriptions of grantee programs)



For more information, please contact:

Cathy Green
Great Lakes B-WET Coordinator
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
500 W. Fletcher
Alpena, Michigan 49707
989-356-8805 x10

[1] The North American Association for Environmental Education and The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation. 2001. Using Environment-Based Education to Advance Learning Skills and Character Development. Washington, DC: The North American Association for Environmental Education and The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation.


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