The Artist Boat is offering training on ecology to middle school teachers. Karla Klay, executive director and founder of the Artist Boat, talked to The Daily News about the program.


Q: The Artist Boat is offering a Coastal Waters Institute for middle school teachers. What’s that all about?

A: The Coastal Waters Institute is a four-day professional development training for teachers that is feet-in and minds-on estuarine ecology 101. The Coastal Waters Institute focuses on providing a high-level, scientifically studied knowledge about the Galveston Bay estuarine system. 

Teachers will leave knowing how to deliver Artist Boat’s professionally developed, hands-on Coastal Waters Institute Environmental Curriculum and how to explain and demonstrate estuarine processes to students. 

Galveston Bay is a nationally significant bay over 600 square miles in size, hosting over 650 species of birds annually and providing the lion’s share of fish, shrimps and blue crabs caught in Texas. 

Q: What will the teachers learn?

A: The Coastal Waters Institute include an Eco-Art Workshop, a Kayak Adventure, a vessel tour, discussion and demonstration of the functions of the wetlands, field training to identify flora and fauna, hands-on training to teach test water quality and studio training in watercolor techniques to create a special memory of their experience. Local natural resource managers will be invited to present current issues and provide a higher-level content and experience. 

Q: Why middle schoolteachers?

A: Artist Boat has been offering hands-on educational experiences that combine art and science to explore coastal habitats through the Eco-Art Workshop and Adventure Program to teachers and students from kindergarten to 12th grade. 

The grant awarded by the Coastal Management Program provides funding specifically for middle school teachers in the Galveston Bay and Coastal Bend Bay area with our environmental program. 

During middle school, studies show students lose interest in science and girls specifically shy away from the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The middle school level is the perfect grade level to provide touchstone experiences in the field and in the classroom about issues facing estuarine environments on the Texas Coast through the disciplines of science and art.  

Q: What’s the most memorable moment from your previous sessions?

A: There are many memories of “aha” moments for teachers experiencing the estuary in the field or during training sessions led by marine biologists and artists. Everyone is out of their classroom and comfort zone, so seeing teachers enjoying learning, enjoying being wet and enjoying nature is a huge reward. 

The big payoff is when during the school year the CWI Teachers call or email Artist Boat to tell us their students used the Coastal Waters Institute Curriculum or Workshop or Adventure content and experiences to teach another student to pass a question about abiotic or water chemistry on the state test or to become an enthusiastic science student. 

Artist Boat is providing access to a national treasure, and teachers love learning in the bay. This is what they tell us the most: “Thanks for introducing me to our local ecology. I didn’t know it was this important or that I was connected to the bay and the Gulf.” 

Q: Where do the teachers come from?

A: Artist Boat is recruiting middle school teachers from the Galveston-Houston area for our Coastal Waters Institute scheduled in Galveston on July 14-17. We are also looking for teachers in the Coastal Bend area to participate in the Coastal Waters Institute scheduled in Port Aransas on July 21-24. 

Artist Boat has funding to support 25 teachers in both regions with the training. The bonus is with the training comes the opportunity to take their students on the Eco-Art Adventure have the Eco-Art Workshop and engage in blogging with students from the other coastal region.

Q: How do you sign up?

A: Interested middle school teachers can contact Adventure Program Manager LuAnne Ashley, 409-770-0722 or lashley@artistboat.org, for information and an application packet.

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