Acadia Learning: Participatory Watershed Research

Landscape-scale environmental research questions require data from vast geographic areas over many years, and carry a price tag that is often beyond the scope of available funding for scientific research. Meanwhile, K-12 classrooms and community volunteer groups want educational opportunities that also contribute to authentic research. Maine Sea Grant is working with partners throughout Maine and beyond to engage students, scientists, and communities in citizen science research projects that benefit each equally.

Acadia Learning is a watershed research program led by the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute at Acadia National Park, in partnership with Maine Sea Grant and the University of Maine Senator George J. Mitchell Center. The project is funded by the NOAA Bay, Watershed, Education, and Training (B-WET) Program, and by the Maine Department of Education, the Davis Foundation, SERC Institute, and private donors.

Established in 2008, Acadia Learning program has provided thousands of high school students across New England with opportunities to deepen their understanding of watershed science and develop data literacy skills, while collecting data that help University of Maine scientists understand mercury bioaccumulation patterns, watershed connectivity, and seasonal precipitation patterns across the landscape. The student-gathered data has served as the basis for numerous presentations at academic research conferences, and supported a proof-of-concept study that leveraged additional grant funds for ongoing research on mercury bioaccumulation in National Parks across the nation.

To learn more about Acadia Learning, please visit the project website or contact Beth Bisson for more information.