Oregon Coast Education Program

The Oregon Coast Education Program—An introduction

ocep workshop photo

The Oregon coast is a dramatic and distinctive part of a state with diverse geography and major population centers located along river valleys distant from the coast.  Yet, the natural heritage represented by Oregon’s coastal environments is one proudly claimed by citizens throughout the state.  Many people in the Portland metropolitan area and the cities of the Willamette Valley and central and eastern Oregon regard the ocean shores of their state with a high degree of ownership and pride.  At the same time, these populations may not see the connections between the river valleys, mountain ranges, forests, and fields where they live and the ocean influenced environment of the Oregon coast.  In fact, much of northern and central Oregon is encompassed by the vast Columbia River watershed and issues affecting salmon such as hydropower generation, irrigation, and development have played a significant role in the lives of people in these areas. These same issues have also had a profound effect on coastal communities as new sources of sustainable energy such as wave power and increasingly restrictive fishery regulations threaten traditional lifestyles in these areas.    

The Oregon Coast Education Program works with teachers and classes to advance the quality and frequency of coastal and watershed education activities in public schools.  Education modules have been developed by linking together existing curriculum and resources that represent some of the best marine and aquatic education activities and practices to support field-based investigations.  The modules have been designed to foster the holistic understanding of the relationships between the realms of ocean, estuary, and watershed that have shaped Oregon’s diverse landscape and provide the rich natural heritage of the state. 

Design of these modules, developed with the substantial involvement of skilled K-12 classroom educators and supported by a web resource, incorporates facets of field-based, inquiry-directed experiential education, distance learning technology, and professional teacher development trainings.  These modules will serve as the basis for a web-based resource and professional development, which will support educators in their efforts to:

  • Conduct meaningful coastal watershed education experiences with their students;
  • Use NOAA online geo-spatial and data visualization technology; as well as research methods, data compilation and analysis with students learning technology;
  • Access and incorporate curriculum developed by NOAA and others to support earth systems science and inquiry-based learning approaches;
  • Employ best practices in environmental, marine, and aquatic education;
  • Explore current issues related to Oregon’s watersheds, coast, and ultimately the ocean.

Project Goals

  • Coastal watershed educational experiences are integrated with common educational practices in schools.
  • Coastal education modules aligned with state and national standards and benchmarks are used by teachers and schools to improve the frequency and quality of coastal watershed education experiences.
  • Teachers have access to and use the tools, support, training and resources necessary to incorporate watershed and coastal education experiences into their curriculum.
  • An effective and useful on-line resource is established to support high quality Oregon coastal watershed education experiences.
  • Pacific northwest educators and their students will participate in high quality coastal watershed education experiences.
  • Students exhibit greater understanding and appreciation for coastal watersheds and the values these natural systems provide.

The Partners

Funding for this project has been provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Pacific Northwest—Bay Watershed Education and Training (PNW B-WET) and the Oregon Community Foundation—Gray Environmental Education Fund.

The project is being implemented by a partnership of coastal and non-coastal education institutions including the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Oregon Sea Grant—Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, University of Oregon—Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, the High Desert Museum, Tryon Creek State Park and the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators.

oregon coast aquarium logooregon institute of marine biology logosea grant logofriends of tryon creek logosouth slough nerr logoname logohigh desert museum logo