Garden of the Salish Sea

Looking for a way to dive deeper into Puget Sound issues? This program, centered around hands-on learning through classroom labs and local field experiences, uses shellfish as a vehicle to teach pollution prevention. The curriculum is offered as a 4-week course (1-2 hours per week), which includes an overview of shellfish and water quality, interactive hands-on laboratory, field experience, and post field trip reflection. During the month, teachers may supplement the curriculum through additional games, readings and art. Students are empowered to take actions to minimize pollution by taking the Salish Sea Challenge.

For more information, click on

60-120 minutes per week over a 4-week period. Adaptable as needed.

Designed for students in grades 4-8.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Hazards on the Homefront

This 60-90 minute presentation shows students how to read hazardous product labels and teaches them proper use, storage, and disposal of such products. Students learn about common household products that can be hazardous to people and the environment, as well as safer alternatives. The presentation includes hands-on activities according to age group and time availability. Activities may include a fast-paced bingo game or an experiment to determine the more effective of two cleaning products.

The presentation is appropriate for 6th grade and older. We request groups of 10 to 30 students and are happy to schedule multiple presentations to accommodate everyone.

To schedule, contact:
Elisa Kaufman
Thurston County Environmental Health

Acids, Bases, and Shell Building Races

Since the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has dramatically increased. Approximately 25% of this carbon dioxide is absorbed into the world’s oceans changing its chemistry in a process called ocean acidification. Join PSI biologists as they break down the complexities of ocean acidification. Act out changes in ocean chemistry that can leave oysters racing to snatch up valuable shell building components. Watch a short video, play the pH guessing game, change water pH with dry ice, and test what happens to shells in an acidic environment. Become empowered as we brainstorm ways to address this important issue and then commit to taking positive actions to do so.

60 minutes in length.  Designed for grades 5-8, upper level and high school presentations also available.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Get Out of My Hair, Toxins in Personal Care

Marketing of personal care products like shampoo, lotion, deodorant, soap, makeup, and perfume targets teens and pre-teens. Some ingredients in these products have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and environmental harm. This presentation teaches students to be smart shoppers and find safer products. Students learn to read and understand personal care product labels and how the products they use on their bodies can impact their health. We’ll make an all-natural lip balm to take home to remind them that safer products are available and work great!

We request groups of 10 to 30 students and are happy to schedule multiple presentations to accommodate everyone. This presentation is normally 50 minutes.

Appropriate for grades 6th grade and up.

Elisa Kaufmann
Thurston County Public Health
Jennifer Johnson
Thurston County Public Health

Puget Sound Estuarium – Education Programs

The South Sound Estuary Association’s (SSEA) Estuarium is a marine life discovery center featuring aquariums, interactive activities, and interpretive exhibits. It’s a great place to visit for all ages. Our education team works with groups to design an exciting private visit to the Estuarium or even to your classroom by special appointment. Groups have included families, preschool, childcare, school, boy/girl scouts, boys and girls clubs, families and seniors. To request and schedule a group visit, complete the Estuarium Group Request form on our website.

Our Exhibits:

  • Aquariums featuring an amazing diversity of animals from intertidal, subtidal environments in South Puget Sound.
  • Preserved specimens from the depths of Puget Sound.
  • Video Programming features an exciting array of short videos from local organizations and projects.
  • Hands on Exhibits include the “Web of Life”, microscopes, coloring, puzzles, and aquarium activities. While not ideal for very young children, hands on activities at the Estuarium are great for school age children.
  • Interpretive Exhibits are highly educational on a variety of subjects relating to South Puget Sound ecology, geology, restoration, and recreation.
  • The Community Billboard connects visitors to upcoming opportunities beyond the Estuarium to enjoy and protect Puget Sound.


309 State Ave. NE
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 915-0773


All You Ever Wanted to Know About Water…and then some!

Water meters are constructed in the classroom one week prior to the lesson. Students take meters home and track the amount of water they use each day. They record this data in their journal (provided by City staff). One week later, the hour long presentation begins with an activity where students represent water molecules moving through the stages in the water cycle. Changes in states of matter are discussed as well as the concept that water is a cycled resource that cannot be created or destroyed. After students move through the water cycle, they take out their water meters and journals and we calculate the total amount of water the students used during the week. The importance of water conservation is discussed and tied into water being a cycled resource.

This lesson is offered to all North Thurston schools and any private schools that receive water from the City of Lacey or are within City limits. Available for grades 3-6.

To schedule, contact:

Kim Benedict
City of Lacey

Beach Exploration

Explore the beach intertidal zone and discover some of the critters and the amazing ways they survive in a variety of habitats there! Available on low tide days in the Fall and Spring.  South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA) staff will meet you at Burfoot County Park, Tolmie State Park, or you may suggest one you have access to. Let us know what your goals and curriculum needs are, and we’ll discuss with you how to integrate them into a 1.5 hour session on the beach. Pre and post visits to your location or classroom are available as well.

Available to K-12 grade.

Wendy Eklund
South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA)


Thurston County Stream Team

If you enjoy rushing streams, clean air, the smell of rich soil on your hands and the camaraderie of other people who like to make a difference, then get involved with Stream Team!

Stream Team offers a fun and rewarding way to protect and improve local streams, rivers and Puget Sound. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds can get involved. Love the outdoors? Join us at tree plantings or stream-bug monitoring sessions. Are you a bird watcher? Build a bird nest box, attend a shorebird field trip or help monitor purple martin nest boxes. If you enjoy talking with other people, you might want to become a Salmon Steward. Or perhaps you’d just like to attend workshops and learn more about what you can do to protect our water resources. Stream Team welcomes any level of involvement you choose to take.

Stream Team events are free and open to everyone. You can participate individually, or bring your family, friends or members of your community group.

Stream Team Website
Facebook Page


In Lacey Contact:
Emily Watts or (360) 438-2687


In Olympia Contact:
Michelle Stevie or (360) 753-8336


In Tumwater Contact:
Meridith Greer or (360) 754-4148


In Thurston County Contact:
Anne Marie Pearce or (360)754-3355 ext. 6857

Recycling 101

Students learn about the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and how to use them to reduce waste and help the environment. Students will do an activity to help them gain an understanding of what can be recycled in Thurston County. They will go home equipped to help their friends and families be better recyclers.

Offered to 4th and 5th grades

To schedule, contact:
Thurston County Solid Waste

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Education Programs

Each year approximately 5,000 students, teachers, and group leaders visit the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The Refuge offers an invaluable opportunity for students to experience and learn about the natural world.  Are your students studying habitats, watersheds, birds, wildlife, estuaries, or wetlands? Then the Refuge is a great place to enhance your curriculum!

Educational resources include the Environmental Education Center where we conduct opening and closing sessions and a variety of age appropriate indoor lessons based on your course of study; four miles of trails, including the one-mile long Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail; teacher training and resources; and field trip planning assistance that will help you to create a field trip experience that fits your curriculum goals. Field trips to the Refuge are great any time of year and are appropriate for pre-k through adults. Advanced reservations are required.

Visit the Education Page for more information on:

  • Field Trip Reservation Form
  • Field Trip Orientation
  • Elementary School Groups
  • Junior High and High School Groups
  • College Groups
  • Resources for Teachers
  • Educator’s Guide
  • FAQs


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Rd, Olympia, WA 98516
Education Coordinator
(360) 753-9467

Nisqually NWR Education Page

The Nisqually River Education Project

Nisqually River Education Project offers hands-on environmental service-learning to students grades 4-12. Schools in Thurston County, North Thurston Public Schools, Wa He Lut Indian School, and Yelm Community Schools may be eligible for participation.

We offer:

  • Bi-annual water quality monitoring field trips.
  • Eye on Nature field trips to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Habitat restoration work-revegetation, invasive species removal, salmon carcass tossing, etc.
  • Annual Student Congress with 400 students from 40+ schools around South Puget Sound to analyze watershed health and learn new skills.
  • Annual Summer Teachers Institute with clock hours, stipends, curriculum resources and networking with community professionals.
  • Logistical support for community service and education outreach projects.
  • Ongoing teacher training and resource sharing.
  • Funding for field trips and water quality monitoring equipment.


Sheila Wilson
360-561 0203

Facebook Page

Hands On Children’s Museum – School Programs

The Hands On Children’s Museum stimulates curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. Our programs provide a unique combination of interactive learning experiences, expressive materials and dramatic play that is unparalleled in our community. Students will create, explore and discover in the rich Museum learning environment.

We offer:

Top reasons to choose a Hands On Field Trip:

  • Hands On is consistently voted “Best Place to Take Kids” in South Puget Sound.
  • Our interactive exhibits make learning exciting, engaging and fun!
  • Our Field Trip Workshops support State Learning Standards including Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), Core Content, Content Standards, and FOSS Science Curriculum.
  • Our Arts & Parts Studio gives every student an opportunity to take home a unique work of art.
  • Hands On 2U brings the Museum Field Trip Experience to your school or organization.
  • At the Hands On Children’s Museum, we believe that students learn through experiences as well as experiments.


Reservations Coordinator
(360) 956-0818  ext 103

Education Page

Engineering a Solution to Watershed Pollution

This lesson is offered to all North Thurston schools and any private schools that receive water from the City of Lacey or are within City limits. Over the course of 3 days, students learn about the water cycle, watersheds, and stormwater runoff. They build a model of a watershed and then work in teams to engineer a solution to the problem of polluted stormwater runoff.

  • Day 1: Water cycle activity where students move around to different stations in the cycle.
  • Day 2: The water cycle is put into the context of a watershed and students build a model of their watershed in a paint tray. They add non-point source pollution and see where it goes when it rains.
  • Day 3: Students design and test a solution to water pollution in their model. We provide a powerpoint, short videos, and building supplies.

Teachers are responsible for class copies of the accompanying journal used in the lesson. Lesson designed to support Next Generation Science Standards.

To schedule, contact
AmeriCorps Volunteer
City of Lacey
(360) 438-2687

OlyWATER Schools Program

The OlyWAter Schools Program provides free classroom presentations to 4th and 5th students in the Olympia School District. The OlyWAter Schools Program activities focus on connecting students with a sense of place and stewardship through science exploration, creative arts, and field trips.

Each grade has a classroom presentation and related field trip that compliments the Water and Land Formations FOSS science units and EALRs from the Science Standards, as well as other activities and field trips.

For more information on our activities and field trips see our website.


Andy Haub

(360) 753-8475

Schools Program Website

WET Science Center

The WET (Water Education & Technology) Science Center in Olympia, WA is a fun, hands-on place to learn all about water – our most precious resource. It’s always free to visit and features interactive exhibits, weekend family activities, tours, and school programs. School programs are for 5th grade students and older.

Interactive exhibits
There are a variety of games and activities for all ages, although most are designed for older children ages 10 and up, as well as adults. An optional scavenger hunt guides visitors through eight stations of exploration and earns you a prize. Exhibits and interactive video games include information about:

  • The natural and built water cycle, water use, and 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.
  • Career opportunities at LOTT Clean Water Alliance.
  • Stewardship of the Puget Sound.

Presentations, Field Trips, and Tours
Presentations and tours are designed for 5th grade students and older, and must be pre-arranged. Presentation length and content can be modified to best meet the needs of the group. All presentations support the Next Generation Science Standards. See the Education Menu for options and full program descriptions.

Internships, Volunteering, Job Shadows
We offer opportunities to serve as a volunteer, intern, or participate in a job shadow experience. Volunteers and interns assist with our school and community education programs. If you have an interest in helping our community learn about water, get in contact with us!

LOTT Clean Water Alliance

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
YouTube Channel

Ocean Plastics – Matter Out of Place

Recently updated to support the Properties of Matter middle school science standards, this lesson focuses on the history, chemical composition and structure of plastics; origin, transport and destination of ocean plastics; impacts on the environment; solutions and stewardship.  Hands-on labs include a Sink/Float Plastic Density Investigation and Albatross Bolus Dissection.  Students enrich their learning by participating in a debris cleanup at a school campus or nearby park.  Debris collected is recorded on International Coastal Cleanup data forms and submitted to Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.  Teachers may also request Beach Sweeper Field Notebooks which allow students to map their site, ask investigative questions, collect data, reflect on findings and create an action plan.

50-60 minutes in the classroom, 50-60 minutes in the field
Designed for grades 6-9, but adaptable to all ages.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

South Sound GREEN

South Sound GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network) has over 20 years experience providing comprehensive watershed education for teachers and students. The program works with grades 4-12 in the Olympia, North Thurston, Tumwater, Griffin, and Rainier school districts, as well as students in private schools, home schools, and local colleges and universities.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students monitor water quality and benthic macroinvertebrates while learning about historical and current land use to evaluate the health of their watershed. Students conduct action projects, including invasive species removal, native planting projects, and more. Students chosen as delegates take their findings to the annual Student GREEN Congress.

South Sound GREEN provides field trips to local South Puget Sound shorelines for participating students to explore marine creatures, food webs, habitats, and how humans impact water quality and local industries such as shellfish farming. Participating teachers receive water quality testing supplies, field trip funding, and ongoing support in integrating watershed education into their curriculum.  We offer teacher professional development through our annual Summer Institute for Teachers in late June, and ongoing climate science education throughout the school year.

Stephanie Bishop
Program Coordinator
360-754-3588 ext. 108

Wolf Haven International for Students

Wolf Haven International, located in Tenino, Washington, offers a variety of presentations for groups of all ages. Groups may schedule a private guided walking visit of the wolf sanctuary and learn more about this often misunderstood animal. Presentations are also available and span a variety of topics depending on the age of the group. Presentations meet several Next Generation Science Standards – more information available upon request. For information on pricing, programs, or scheduling, please call or e-mail. Advanced reservations are required.

Onsite experiences appropriate for grades 3 – post secondary. Offsite experiences available for all ages.

To schedule, contact:
Education Department
Wolf Haven International
(360) 264-4695 ext. 223

Eutrophi…what? Nutrients and Phytoplankton in South Puget Sound

Eutrophication has been identified as one of the most serious threats to coastal environments worldwide.  Learn how this process impacts Budd Inlet and what steps you can take to reduce nutrient inputs into lakes and Puget Sound. Activities include acting out the process of eutrophication, viewing live plankton under a microscope, identifying harmful algal bloom species, performing a mussel filtration demonstration, handling water quality monitoring equipment, and learning about local efforts to address nutrient pollution in Puget Sound.

50-60 minutes in the classroom.

Designed and adapted for grades 4-9.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Plastics in the Ocean

Through hands-on activities, students will learn how plastic can affect birds and other ocean life. They will also discuss how we can reduce the amount of plastic going into the ocean.

Offered to students in 4th and 5th grade

Thurston County Solid Waste

Puget Sound Shellfish – Keeping It Clean

This program will introduce students to shellfish as a keystone species in maintaining healthy estuaries and as an important indicator of water quality. Identify South Puget Sound bivalves, view live plankton under microscopes, feed mussels a plankton smoothie, and discover how the 3 “P”s – poop, pH, and plastics – can impact the environment! Become empowered as we highlight every day actions you can take to protect and enjoy Puget Sound.

Can be adapted to any age level. 50-60 minutes in length.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

What’s on the Menu?

Students will learn what they can do at home to stop food waste. This includes learning to trust their eyes and nose rather than the “sell by date.” students will problem-solve in a group activity to learn how to maximize their food rather than letting it go to waste.

Offered to 6th and 8th grade

To schedule, contact:
Thurston County Solid Waste


This presentation covers the causes and effects of stormwater runoff in our watershed using the enviroscape model (3D plastic model depicting farm lands, neighborhoods, construction site, mountains, and a large water body). Students are able to visualize the impacts of their daily actions on the health of Puget Sound. Activities such as car washing, picking up dog waste, using fertilizers and pesticides, and car leaks are discussed among other topics. Best management strategies are also discussed for each non-point source pollutant.

This lesson can be offered to all North Thurston schools and any private schools that receive water from the City of Lacey or are within City limits.

Adaptable for grades K-12. Presentation is 40-60 minutes in length.

To schedule, contact:
Kim Benedict
City of Lacey

Consumption Consequences

Students will examine the environmental consequences of the choices they make when shopping. The class will discuss how reducing and reusing can preserve natural resources. By playing a game in which they obtain items on a shopping list they will learn how their consumption choices can affect the environment.

Offered to 6th-8th grade

To schedule, contact:
Thurston County Solid Waste

Earth Friendly Car Care

Drivers can reduce their impacts on the environment in many ways. This interactive presentation includes discussions about recycled motor oil, water pollution, fuel efficiency, trip reduction, and hazardous materials disposal.

We request groups of 10 to 30 students and are happy to schedule multiple presentations to accommodate everyone

Appropriate for grades 10-12.

Elisa Kaufmann
Thurston County Public Health

Taylor Shellfish Farms – Education Programs

Shellfish farming has a long history in Puget Sound; in Washington it pre-dates statehood. Learn how shellfish are farmed in Puget Sound, and what happens to them once they are harvested. Field trips and tours can take place at the main headquarters/processing plant in Shelton, shellfish hatchery in Quilcene (Hood Canal), or a variety of farms throughout South Puget Sound.

Tours are customized based on the needs of different groups and can include topics such as: biology, history, environment, economy, water quality, current events, culinary uses, habitat, etc. Programs can be adapted to any grade level. 

Taylor Shellfish is a 5th generation family company based out of Shelton, WA with farms throughout the state. Shellfish produced in Puget Sound include manila clams, a variety of oyster species, geoduck and mussels. Tours, field trips and classroom visits are available free of charge on a first come, first served basis.

Jennifer Whipple
(360) 481-2417


Walk N Roll Program

Intercity Transit’s Walk N Roll program works with schools and community partners to offer activities that educate and encourage youth to walk, bike, and take the bus. The Walk N Roll program hopes to create a healthier, safer, and more active community.

Walk N Roll offers a variety of educational and outreach activities:

  • Walk N Roll to School Days encourage youth and their families to walk or bike to school. The Walk N Roll program provides schools with the tools and coordination to make their events successful.
  • The School Bike Challenge is part of the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Challenge. The Walk N Roll program helps schools organize a two week long bike challenge during the month of May. Students log their miles to win prizes. 
  • Pace Car Pledge asks drivers to commit to making roads safer for biking and walking by driving the speed limit, avoiding distractions, being cautious around kids, stopping for pedestrians, and sharing the road with bikes.
  • Rolling Classroom field trips provide school groups the chance to ride an Intercity Transit bus, tour the maintenance facility, and ride through the bus wash. Classroom presentations are also provided to prepare students for their bus riding experience.
  • Kidical Mass family bike rides provide an opportunity for youth and their families to practice biking on low-traffic roads. Rides include fun activities and family-friendly destinations. 
  • Earn-a-Bike classes teach middle school students basic mechanical and bicycle safety skills in the classroom and on the road. Students in need receive a bike refurbished by volunteers upon completion of the class.
  • The Walk N Roll Bike Shop is a volunteer staffed facility where donated and reclaimed bikes are refurbished. Completed bikes are given to youth participating in Walk N Roll activities.


Walk N Roll

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge – Education Programs

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge provides recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Shorebirds migrating from as far south as Argentina stop to rest and feed in Grays Harbor Estuary every spring. The estuary’s open mudflats provide ample food for the migrants and great wildlife viewing opportunities for the public. Whether birding, practicing photography, 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. Each spring, the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival offers field trips, shorebird viewing, lectures, Fun Fair, poster contest, and more.

The mission of Grays Harbor NWR education program is to work collaboratively with local schools, the community and other educational groups to teach the value of our local ecosystems to students, both young and old.

Visit the Grays Harbor NWR Education Page for more information on:

  • Classroom Presentations
  • Field Trips
  • Education Guide
  • Teacher Training
  • Shorebird Festival Poster Contest

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

1131 Airport Way, Hoquiam, WA 98550

100 Brown Farm Road, Olympia, WA 98516 (mailing address)

(360) 753-9467

Nisqually NWR Website
Education Page
Shorebird Festival Website
Facebook – Shorebird Festival


Fecal Bacteria in Henderson Inlet – Dooing Something about it!

This program introduces students to fecal bacteria: What are they? Where do they come from? How do they make their way into lakes and Puget Sound? Then, students walk to a nearby park where they use Field Investigation Notebooks to map and label their survey site, flag pet waste piles, record data, reflect on findings, and create an action plan. After the survey, an Engineering Technician will talk with students about storm drains, open a catch basin and collect a stormwater sample. If time permits, students will test the sample for fecal bacteria by filtering stormwater onto petri dishes that incubate overnight. Students will be asked to send pet waste survey results to Thurston County Environmental Health.  Field Investigation Notebooks and curriculum are downloadable on PSI’s website and available as a loanable kit.

Designed for 3-8 grade students.

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Olympian Story – CSI at Lacey Elementary

Organize a Waste Sort

We provide a pre-sort lesson, as well as supplies and day-of instruction to your class to conduct a successful waste sort. Hands-on projects like this support Washington education standards and provide opportunities to apply academic skills to real-world problem solving.

Students will have an opportunity to:

  • Learn about materials and the environmental impacts of everyday products we use and behaviors we practice.
  • Evaluate the school’s garbage and recycling by collecting, sorting, and weighing garbage and recyclables.
  • Analyze the data collected.
  • Research and propose solutions to reduce trash and increase recycling.
  • Present the results to the school community.

Offered to students in 2nd through 12th grade

To schedule, contact:
Thurston County Solid Waste
(360) 867-2280

Nisqually Reach Nature Center – Education

Nisqually Reach Nature Center provides:

  • Field trip opportunities
  • Supplemental classroom activities
  • and Summer camps

Aimed at sharing the beauty and uniqueness of the Nisqually Estuary and learning the values of conservation, particularly with regard to South Puget Sound. The Nature Center contains study mounts of local birds and mammals, four tidally active salt water aquariums with over 50 species of local marine fauna, and equipment for use. The equipment includes binoculars, spotting scopes, Quadrates, Seine net, compound microscopes, and dissecting microscopes. Outdoor classes can study estuarine ecology through beach quadrate studies, beach seining, plankton tows and more.

Classes may visit any time with advance arrangement. Appropriate for all ages.

Nisqually Reach Nature Center

Nature Center Website

Nature Center Facebook



This is a four Day engineering design project in which students construct a watershed model to test how much stormwater it soaks up and how much erosion occurs.

  • Days 1-2: background on the topics of watersheds, stormwater runoff, and erosion. Students get time to explore the materials and come up with a plan.
  • Day 3: model-building day.
  • Day 4: reflect on the activity and connect to students’ “real world.”

We bring a powerpoint, short videos, reading, journal, and building supplies. Teachers are responsible for class copies, and day 4. We will be in the class at least for days 1 and 3 with materials and explanation of how to run day 2 if we are not available.

This lesson is offered to all 6-8 grade students in North Thurston schools and any private schools that receive water from the City of Lacey or are within City limits.

To schedule, contact:

City of Lacey
AmeriCorps Volunteer
(360) 438-2672

Food: Too Good to Waste

The average family throws away 25 percent of the food they buy. Students will learn why and where food waste occurs and its impacts on the environment. Every student will learn about their own role and gain tips and tools to stop wasting food at home. They can save money and the environment at the same time!

Offered to 4th-5th grades

To schedule, contact:
Thurston County Solid Waste