About Bay Backpack

Bay Backpack is an online resource that supports hands-on environmental learning. By providing educators with information about funding opportunities, field studies, and curriculum guides and lesson plans related to the Chesapeake Bay, Bay Backpack helps educators find the tools they need to give their students Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences, or MWEEs. Through MWEEs, students of all ages develop a sense of environmental ethics and stewardship that will be essential to the long-term sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay and will serve as the foundation of a lifelong relationship with the environment.

What is a MWEE?

Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences, or MWEEs, are the cornerstone upon which the region's environmental literacy efforts have been built. MWEEs connect standards-based classroom learning with outdoor field experiences to create a deeper understanding of the environment. An Educators Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience provides more information about designing and implementing MWEEs.

For a learning experience to qualify as a MWEE, it must meet four criteria as outline in the definition. First, students must identify and investigate an environmental question, problem or issue. Second, students must participate in one or more outdoor field experiences that allow them to collect the data needed to answer their research questions and inform their actions. Third, students must take action to address environmental issues at the personal or societal level. And last, students must analyze, evaluate and communicate their conclusions.

Through MWEEs, students of all ages develop a sense of environmental ethics and stewardship that will be essential to the long-term sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay and will serve as the foundation of a lifelong relationship with the environment.

Who is behind Bay Backpack?

Recognizing the value of hands-on environmental education, the Chesapeake Executive Council—which includes the governors of the six Chesapeake Bay states and the mayor of Washington, D.C.—signed a commitment in 2000 to provide a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, or MWEE, to every student in the watershed before graduation from high school. In 2010, the Chesapeake Bay Program's Education Workgroup launched Bay Backpack to support this goal.

The Chesapeake Bay Program's Education Workgroup is made up of representatives from state resource agencies, state departments of education, and nongovernmental organizations from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. It works to advance the environmental literacy goals and outcomes of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.