RSOI: Recommend Effective Student/Teacher Engagement with National Parks about the Potomac Watershed

Solicitation for CESU Cooperator to Recommend Effective Student/Teacher Engagement with National Parks about the Potomac Watershed

Goal: Determine most effective way to engage high school students in the DMV region (District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia) in learning about the Potomac Watershed through national parks.

Public Purpose: The research provided in this study will investigate the most effective method for connecting student and teacher requirements for teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills through in-classroom lessons, field activities, student projects and service-learning opportunities to facilitate the stewardship of the Potomac Watershed. The National Park Service, National Capital Region parks, as well as state and local parks and other community green spaces, have a role in protecting water quality, plants and animals, and mitigating effects of a changing climate on historic structures and the environment.  This preservation is accomplished through the fostering of a stewardship ideal and relevant connections to these resources with the public.  A method of accomplishing this mission is through educational programs with formal educational institutions that use national parks as sites to do field studies to gain both STEM skills, practice data analysis, and to understand the importance of public and private green space in protecting the watershed.

The conduct of this educational program strives to accomplish the following objectives to foster this stewardship ideal:

  • Develop students’ knowledge and skills in the field of watershed science.
  • Promote an understanding of Potomac watershed, one’s relationship to the watershed and the role that they have in the protecting this resource.
  • Provide an understanding of the role of National Parks in the overall preservation of these places.

Scope of Work:

The principal investigator will:

  1. Produce a report that:
    1. Provides recommendations for most effective way to engage students in the DMV region (District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia) in learning about the Potomac Watershed through national parks.
    2. Considers the limitations/capacity of six national parks (George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), National Mall and Memorial Parks (NAMA), Rock Creek Park (ROCR), National Capital Parks East (NACE), Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park (CHOH) and Prince William Forest Park (PRWI) in their ability to deliver on those recommendations.
    3. Connects the curriculums/learning standards of Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, District of Columbia, and Arlington public schools and school districts to these recommendations.
    4. Includes/connects current school conditions related to transportation, funding or other factors in the recommended method for meeting these needs.
    5. Considers the current watershed education programs offered (including partnership programs) in NCR national parks as potential recommendations with or without modification.
    6. Lists potential education partners who could carry out the program through a cooperative agreement.

The NPS will:

  1. Meet with principal investigator and staff on a regular basis as inquiry proceeds.
  2. Provide contact information for the researcher to schedule interviews and site visits with staff at area national parks.
  3. Provide background and history of watershed education programs from 2000 to 2022, as well as existing needs assessment, and evaluation documents.
  4. Review and comment on drafts of program deliverables.
  5. Assign a lead point of contact who will coordinate with the principal investigator to arrange contacts with NPS staff and site visits for national parks, review drafts and attend regular planning meetings with the selected investigator.

Award Amount: Not to exceed $50,000

Background: The current education partnership, Bridging the Watershed, has existed for 24 years.  The program has flat funding of $297,000 per year from the NPS.  The quote from the NPS “green book” funding request in 2000:

“$50,000 to Sustain Model High School Environmental Education Program. The Environmental Education Program “Bridging the Watershed” is a public/private partnership, established in the Washington, D.C., metro area in March 1998. The program consists of graduate-accredited teacher training, as well as in-classroom lessons, field activities, and service-learning opportunities for students which will promote the national parks in the watershed as learning laboratories for secondary level students and teachers. Program objectives include establishing an accredited annual summer institute for teachers and rangers, and developing an interactive Internet web-site which offers pre- and post- field trip· activities and accesses to field data. This will be an ongoing program providing inner-city students (18,000 per year) with the skills to apply science and math skills, while learning about critical resource management issues relevant to National Capital Region parks.”

Period of Performance

The period of performance will take approximately 7 months. Final report must be received by September 30, 2023.  Start date is negotiable, work must begin no later than March 1, 2023. Work may be performed at the Cooperator’s place of business, on-site in the listed national parks, at schools or school district offices, and at NPS offices.  This time period may be adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Watershed education findings document [one (1) pdf copy via email. Documents will comply with the document accessibility requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998 (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)).

Proposal Submissions

The Cooperator shall describe its technical approach to the tasks outlined above, to include a proposed project timeline and budget, not to exceed $50,000.  Budget may include personnel, benefits, supplies, equipment, travel to national park and school locations, printing, indirect costs.  Submissions should also include resumes of the principal investigator and any other team members.

Proposals are due to Laura Harvey via email at no later than Friday, December 16, 2022, by 12 noon ET.

PDF Version: Revised CESU SOW watershed education Oct 2022