COSEE Pacific Partnerships (COSEE-PP) has worked to build capacity for volunteer organizations in the Pacific Northwest and to support collaborations between research scientists and these groups through the development of the Oregon Coastal Master Naturalist Program (CMNP). Modeled on successful master naturalist programs nationwide, the CMNP seeks to develop highly trained volunteers who engage in ocean sciences education, stewardship, and citizen science activities. This effort dovetailed with a larger effort in Oregon to create a statewide, eco-region based Oregon Master Naturalist Program.
Beginning in 2010, COSEE-PP took the lead in a partnership with regional volunteer-based organizations to support the development and piloting of a CMNP for Oregon by working with scientists to develop a modular curriculum that incorporates current knowledge of the ocean and the ocean literacy principles. COSEE-PP worked with scientists to develop and present the content for the modules of the CMNP curriculum. These pilot modules were evaluated for fit with and coverage of the proposed curriculum, the participating scientists’ use of active teaching techniques, and the perceived usefulness and value to the participants.
Scientist involvement in the training of volunteers who can communicate effectively about the ocean to a variety of audiences helps to infuse current ocean sciences research into a variety of educational applications. Participants went on to volunteer for activities at coastal informal learning sites in Oregon, participated in citizen science activities, used the training as part of their professional activities or responsibilities, used what they had learned in teaching opportunities, and used content in conversations around marine issues. Scientist instructors reported that the experience was valuable in terms of helping to practice and improve communication with non-expert, non-undergraduate audiences. Programs such as the CMNP are replicable nationwide and could contribute to building capacity for ocean education.
COSEE Pacific Partnerships, a regional Center based at marine laboratories in Oregon, Washington, California, & Hawai'i seeks to integrate research and education for community colleges, informal science education professionals, and volunteers.
Jan Hodder Oregon Institute of Marine Biology University of Oregon