OSPI– Science, Environment, and Sustainability Education

Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) – Science, Environment, and Sustainability Education
The Environment and Sustainability Education (ESE) program is part of the Learning and Teaching Section at OSPI. OSPI’s goal for environment and sustainability education is to support academic success and life-long learning, and to develop a responsible citizenry capable of applying knowledge of ecological, economic, and socio-cultural systems to meet current and future needs.

Visit Us
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is in the historic Old State Capitol Building. It is open for tours or walkthrough visits. Art from high school competitions is featured throughout the building. However, the Environmental and Sustainability Education office is not part of the tour, nor does the building feature environmental or sustainability exhibits.

 Educational Resources

  • The ESE Program Supervisor supports the implementation of the state’s K-12 Integrated ESE Standards, Washington’s Environmental and Sustainability Literacy Plan, and the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • The ESE Program at OSPI works with Educational Service Districts, Community Based Organizations, and other partners to support professional learning opportunities for formal and informal educators. Each year, the Environment and Sustainability Program offers a series of free trainings for informal science educators. These are promoted through the ESE OSPI Bulletin, which the public can receive by signing up through the ESE website.
  • OSPI offers an ESE Bulletin (announcements sent via email or text). To sign up to receive the Bulletin, visit the OSPI Environment and Sustainability web page, then click the box near the upper right-hand corner to sign up for text or email alerts. The ESE program can also inform Bulletin subscribers of your high quality, free professional learning opportunity, or opportunities for students including field trips, contests, etc.
  • The ESE program coordinates school and school district nominations for the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program.
  • The Science, Environmental and Sustainability Education Team coordinates the selection of two high school seniors for the National Youth Science Camp.

Contact:
Environment and Sustainability Education Program Supervisor, 360-725-4976
Website

South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group

The Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail is the south Sound’s premiere salmon viewing experience. It is only open for the month of November, because that is when the chum salmon return from the ocean!

Schedule a visit for your class or interest group, and get a rich Pacific Northwest experience. Groups are lead by trained volunteer docents that cover a wide range of salmon and ecological topics including life cycle, spawning behaviors, survival rates, predator/prey relationships, forestry and human influences. Available for all ages!

Visit our website for more information, to schedule a field trip, or become a docent.

Contact:
South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group
Megan Brady, Education & Outreach Coordinator
Email
Website

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, walking the trails, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allows for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats. The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound. Many visitors, especially birders and boaters, have found that it is best to plan a visit to the Refuge according to the tides. The highest concentrations of the estuarine bird species will be most visible within two hours of high tide. The Visitor Center includes The Nature Shop, an information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits.

Visit Us
Educational Facilities include the Refuge’s Environmental Education Center and four miles of flat boardwalk & gravel trails. The Environmental Education Center is open by appointment only. Educational groups Pre-K through college may request use of the Environmental Education Center and assistance from Refuge Educators.

Educational Programs
The Refuge’s Environmental Education Programming is designed to meet the needs of visiting groups. Please contact our education coordinator to plan your trip. Indoor activities cover a wide range of wildlife-related topics including:

  • Habitat
  • Animal Adaptations
  • Animal Tracks & Signs
  • Bird Identification
  • Developing Observation Skills
  • Citizen Science

Educator Training
Four field trip orientation workshops are conducted each year. We encourage all educators planning a trip to the Refuge to attend to get all the tools you need to confidently guide your students on a meaningful outdoor learning experience. You will be introduced to our hands-on indoor activities in our Environmental Education Center, hike the Twin Barns Loop Trail, and learn about one of the largest restoration projects in the Puget Sound! Refreshments will be provided. Dates can be found on the Refuge’s website.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
Volunteer & Internship Opportunities exist with the Refuge’s Environmental Education program as well as other programs at the Refuge. More than 42,000 people volunteer their time and ideas each year to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Whether they work on the land, in a visitor center, or with youth, they contribute to the conservation mission that reaches back more than a century. Become a volunteer to contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources.

Contact:
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Road
Olympia, WA 98516
(360) 753-9467
Nisquallyeducation@fws.gov
Website
Facebook

Puget Sound Estuarium

The Estuarium is a marine life discovery center featuring aquariums and interpretive exhibits. Outside our facility, we can be found on local docks and beaches connecting people of all ages to our delicate and vibrant estuarine ecosystem. The Estuarium also provides K-12 education resources and field trips to local schools. Our volunteer program offers unique hands-on opportunities to explore intertidal life and inspire community members to take better care of our shared natural resources.

Exhibits
Our facility is home to saltwater aquariums and a diverse specimen collection featuring amazing intertidal and subtidal estuary plants and animals. Our hands-on interactive exhibits include a video screening station, microscopes, rotating arts and crafts projects and more. The Estuarium highlights topics during our rotating exhibits complete with special activities! Rotating exhibits often feature special guest speakers, dissections, and demonstrations led by our lead interpreters. Exhibits include:

  • Ways to Make a Difference Exhibit
  • Plastic Pollution Exhibit
  • Cultural Exhibit
  • Rough Skinned Newt Tank
  • Shellfish Tank and Exhibit
  • Eelgrass Tank
  • Asteroidea Tank
  • Estuary Predator Tank
  • Microscope Station
  • Movie Station
  • Estuary Inspired Arts and Crafts

Programs

  • Meet the Beach – During our Meet the Beach program our dedicated team of volunteers, called Beach Naturalists, connect beachgoers with our unique estuarine ecosystem by identifying intertidal life during summer low tides.
  • Pier Peer – Year-round our trained staff and volunteers run our popular Pier Peer program on local docks after dark in Thurston and Mason Counties. Our trained team provides underwater lights that attract spectacular estuary creatures for you to scoop up and observe.
  • K-12 Education: The Estuarium offers extensive educational programming and a variety of estuary and marine ecology topics for Pre-K through 12th grade students. Our programs offer students unique hands-on activities and are linked to the STEM standards, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Ocean Literacy Frameworks.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
The Estuarium relies on our dedicated volunteers to help run our programs and facility. Estuarium volunteers are encouraged to participate during field trips, Pier Peer and Meet the Beach events, assisting in animal husbandry, and serving as interpreters during our weekend open hours. Internships are periodically offered at the Estuarium. Interns are invited to learn a wide range of skills from nonprofit management, animal husbandry, K-12 education and more. Please contact our Program Coordinator to learn about our current internship opportunities.

Teacher Resources
The Estuarium offers School Estuary Kits for local K-12 teachers with 3rd – 12th grade students. All kits include enough materials for a group of 30 students and the content is designed for age-appropriate learning. The School Estuary Kits support current NGSS educational standards.

Rentals
Do you have a group you think would enjoy a private Meet the Beach, Pier Peer, or Estuarium tour? Please email us to inquire about private programs, rentals, and Estuarium birthday party packages.

Puget Sound Estuarium
Email
(360) 915-0773
Website
Facebook

Capitol Land Trust

Capitol Land Trust
Capitol Land Trust’s mission is to conserve essential natural areas and working farms in southwest Washington. Since 1987, we have grown from a volunteer organization to a professional and accredited land trust. With the help of our supporters and partners, we have successfully conserved over 6,000 acres of land on nearly 80 properties in Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, and Lewis counties. The land we conserve is protected forever.

Visit us
We have a small working office in Lacey, WA. We don’t offer any programs or exhibits at our office location. As of 2020, we have four preserves that are open for public use. If you plan a visit to one of our nature preserves, be sure to visit our website for the most current information. In general, our walking trails are mulched or dirt trails and vary in elevation and length. Walking on our trails, you’ll pass many Pacific Northwest ecosystems including wetlands, forests of varying ages, marine shoreline, open oak woodland, and fish-bearing streams. Please contact us if you plan to park a vehicle larger than a 12-passenger van on a property because some sites have space restrictions.

Educational Programs

  • Guided nature walks
  • Land Stewardship and Restoration – Learn how to identify native and invasive plant species and keep our ecosystems healthy. These activities include removing invasive species, planting native plant species, and addressing other needs the land may have.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
Volunteers are essential to our mission, and we strive to create a volunteer experience that is both meaningful and enjoyable. As a Capitol Land Trust volunteer, you further our mission by stewarding natural landscapes, educating the next generation, and connecting people with our conserved lands. With your help, our area continues to have thriving natural habitats and green spaces to enjoy.

  • Stewardship Work Parties – Weekly stewardship work parties occur year-round between October and July, and typically include activities like planting native plants, mulching, removing invasive species or debris, and maintaining trails.
  • Environmental Education – We work with several schools and youth-serving organizations to provide field experiences for youth on our conservation properties. Most of the activities that take place during these experiences are run by volunteers. We provide a volunteer training for our 7th grade field experience and our 3rd grade field experience.
  • Trail and Land Stewards – Trail Stewards and Land Stewards make sure our properties are safe and healthy!

Contact:

Capitol Land Trust
Mary Birchem
360-943-3012
mary@capitollandtrust.org
Website
Facebook Page

Wolf Haven International

Wolf Haven International
Wolf Haven International is a nationally recognized wolf sanctuary that has rescued and provided a lifetime home for over 300 displaced, captive-born animals since 1982.   Wolf Haven is certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and participates in two Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs for endangered wolves.  Wolf Haven is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to conserving and protecting wolves and their habitat.

Visit Us
Guided walking visits offer visitors a rare, close-up view of wolves. Visitors can also follow a walking trail through beautiful native Mima Mound prairie and enjoy the native flowers, birds, butterflies that can be found there.  Stop and chat with our docent and learn even more, while also exploring skulls of some of Washington’s wildlife. Advanced reservations are required.

 Educational Programs
Wolf Haven offers a variety of presentations for groups of all ages, preschool through adult. Youth presentations meet Next Generation Science Standards and scout badges – more information available upon request. For information on pricing, programs, or scheduling, please call or e-mail. Advanced reservations are required.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
A variety of volunteer opportunities exist, including public visit guide, information table docent, and program presenter.  Animal care is not part of our volunteer positions.

Internship opportunities exist with our Education Department.

Other
We also have 30+ acres of endangered Mima Mound prairie. Visits to the prairie are complimentary on our sanctuary open days. To bring a group to our prairie, please contact us.

Contact:
Wolf Haven International
3111 Offut Lake Rd. SE
Tenino, Washington 98589
Email

Website
Facebook

Thurston County Solid Waste

Thurston County Solid Waste – Your waste prevention and recycling resource!  We provide a wide variety of programs, resources, information, and technical assistance.

Youth Programs

  • Classroom presentations
  • Food to Flowers school composting program
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (RRR) Patch for scouts and other youth groups
  • Presentations to after-school programs, groups, and camps.

Volunteer Program 

Do you have a passion for recycling, composting, and waste prevention? If so, then apply to become a Thurston County Master Recycler Composter (MRC) volunteer! MRC volunteers are trained over a five week period on how to reduce waste and increase public awareness of opportunities to recycle and compost in Thurston County.

Community Outreach 

From the Waste Less Food campaign to the Where Do I Take My…? website, there are a number of community education programs and resources to help Thurston County residents reduce waste. Visit the website for more information.

Thurston County Solid Waste
(360) 867-2280
Email
Website

WET Science Center

The WET Science Center is a fun, hands-on place to learn all about water. It is a part of LOTT Clean Water Alliance, a nonprofit corporation providing wastewater management services for the urban areas of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater. It’s free to visit and features interactive exhibits, family-friendly Saturday programs, wastewater treatment plant tours, and educational programs.

Exhibits
There are a variety of games and activities for all ages. Try an optional scavenger hunt to navigate through the science center. Information includes:

  • Water conservation.
  • Wastewater treatment, including the role of bacteria in the nitrogen removal process.
  • What not to flush or put down the drain.
  • Production and use of Class A Reclaimed Water.
  • Clean water careers.

Educational Programs
Programs are designed for students 5th grade and older. Programs are typically two hours long, and feature a presentation, a tour of the wastewater treatment plant or green-designed building, and time to explore the science center. All presentations align with Next Generation Science Standards.

Volunteer and Internship Opportunities
We offer volunteer opportunities assisting with our Saturday and community education programs. The positions can be designed to fit individual needs.

Contact:
WET Science Center
360-664-2333
Email

Website
Facebook Page

Pacific Shellfish Institute (PSI)

Pacific Shellfish Institute (PSI) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with an office and laboratory in Olympia, WA. Our education mission is to provide the community with science based, hands on learning opportunities related to shellfish, water quality and Puget Sound stewardship. We are available for classroom presentations, field trips, teacher trainings, workshops, and community events. Our range encompasses Lewis, Mason, Thurston, and Mason Counties.

Education Programs:
PSI offers an assortment of K-12 classroom presentation and field trips related to locally relevant water quality issues such as ocean acidification, nutrient and bacteria pollution, and ocean plastics. Our programs are unique in that they are provided by research scientists working right here in Puget Sound. Our presentations and field trips target NGSS Science and Engineering Practices, field sampling techniques, water quality equipment, invertebrate/plankton identification, engineering solutions and personal actions. Our most popular offerings include:

  • Ocean Plastics – Matter out of Place
  • Eutrophi…what? – Nutrients and Phytoplankton in South Puget Sound
  • Acids, Bases, and Calcification Races – The ABCs of Ocean Acidification
  • The Olympia Waterfront Tour (in partnership with LOTT)

PSI will work with you to tailor presentations and field trips to meet your individual needs.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
PSI offers volunteer and internship opportunities by request and as needed. We also host citizen monitoring events and local cleanups throughout the year.

Contact:
Pacific Shellfish Institute
Aimee Christy
360-754-2741
Email
Website
Facebook

Earth Gen

Schools across Washington are working together to make their communities greener and healthier.

Formerly known as Washington Green Schools, Earth Gen provides schools with the support and resources to empower the next generation of environmental leaders. Through our programs, students can certify their schools, learn important 21st century skills, and conserve resources. Washington Green Schools wants your school to meet its education and resource conservation goals. We ensure this through:

  • Classroom Resources – lesson plans, curriculum enhancements, and educator guides
  • Hands-On Support – our staff is always available to answer questions or provide consultation
  • Trainings and Workshops – we host trainings throughout the year to prepare educators and schools for a successful certification process
  • Recognition – when you certify, we present an awards ceremony at your school, create press releases, and share your success story with our statewide network