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Virginians Can Explore the Chesapeake Bay Online This Summer

Online classes, including storytelling, help Virginians in pandemic mode learn about the nation's largest estuary. (NERRS)
Online classes, including storytelling, help Virginians in pandemic mode learn about the nation's largest estuary. (NERRS)
June 22, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the way educators and students learn about the Chesapeake Bay and its estuaries to new virtual programs.

The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's York River highlights the habitats of the nation's largest estuary. Online programs feature storytelling and discovery labs, like last week's session on turtles.

Education coordinator Sarah Nuss said their virtual classes teach students and families about the Bay's ecosystem as well as how to protect it.

"Our reach is really regional because the Chesapeake Bay's watershed is so large," Nuss said. "We want people to understand that even if you live in New York or Pennsylvania that the impact that you have on your land and your waterways could eventually affect the Chesapeake Bay."

Since 1983, the states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, have been working to fully restore the polluted estuary by 2025. Updates on online activities can be found on the Research Reserve's Facebook page.

Nuss said this is the first summer that teachers at the Virginia site can't spend time in-person with campers who come back year after year for hands-on programs. But she hopes the online sessions will continue to connect kids with opportunities to learn about the Bay's aquatic life and its role in the environment.

"The Chesapeake Bay provides a local example of an environment that the students can learn all aspects of science but with a local context," she said. "So I think it means more, is more meaningful to them when it's closer to where they live and something they interact with."

Parts of the reserve are open for public use during the pandemic, including York River State Park, which has hiking trails and a beach area.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA