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Backyard Bay Savers: What's a Watershed?

launching the Watershed Explorer
Image: VPM

Home Learning | Science Matters Features

Episode 1: Join Chesapeake Bay Foundation educators Maya, Rick, and Norah as they lead you on a journey through the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Investigate how we are all part of a watershed as you twist and turn from the Appalachian Mountains, through the rivers and streams of the Piedmont, all the way down to the Chesapeake Bay. Along your journey, you’ll meet the unique critters that call the watershed home. You’ll also explore what you can do in your own neighborhood to protect the environment and become a Backyard Bay Saver! Developed for students in grades 4-6.

Produced by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in partnership with VPM. 

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay. With offices in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia and 15 field centers, CBF serves as a watchdog for the Chesapeake Bay's six-state, 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to more than 18 million people and 3,000 species of plants and animals. CBF fights for effective, science-based solutions to the issues the watershed faces to ensure clean water water for all its residents.

To save the Chesapeake Bay, CBF believes it is essential to educate people from across the watershed to be Bay champions. From those living on rural farms to bustling cities, CBF works to ensure all people make a meaningful connection to their local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. CBF aims to inspire stewardship and a lifelong love for local rivers, streams, and everything that calls the watershed home. If you’re looking for ways you can stand up for the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams in your daily life, check out these Things You Can Do to Save the Bay.

For more information:

Teachers, check out CBF’s Online Watershed Learning to bring live, online, local environmental instruction into your classroom, as well as, CBF’s Professional Learning Summer Courses.

Families, explore CBF’s Learn Outside, Learn at Home interactive and social resources to keep you connected to the Bay and the watershed from your own backyard, porch, or park.

Next Generation Environmental Stewards, look into our Student Leadership Program and learn to how advocate, take action, and spread awareness to help improve your local environment.

Virginia Standards of Learning:

4.4 The student will investigate and understand that weather conditions and phenomena affect ecosystems and can be predicted. Key ideas include: b) common and extreme weather events affect ecosystems.

4.8 The student will investigate and understand that Virginia has important natural resources. Key resources include: a) watersheds and water

6.8 The student will investigate and understand that land and water have roles in watershed systems. Key ideas include:
a) watershed is composed of the land that drains into a body of water;
c) the Chesapeake Bay is an estuary that has many important functions; and
d) natural processes, human activities, and biotic and abiotic factors influence the health of a watershed system.

Earth Science ES.8 The student will investigate and understand that freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity. Key ideas include:
c) weather and human usage affect freshwater resources, including water locations, quality, and supply;
d) stream processes and dynamics affect the major watershed systems in Virginia, including the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Life Science LS.7 The student will investigate and understand that adaptations support an organism’s survival in an ecosystem. Key ideas include:
a) biotic and abiotic factors define land, marine, and freshwater ecosystems;
b) physical and behavioral characteristics enable organisms to survive within a specific ecosystem.

Meet the Creators:

fletcherKenny Fletcher lives near the James River in Richmond, but grew up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. He is CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator, where he travels the region searching for the best stories in the watershed. In his free time Kenny loves fishing, exploring rivers and creeks by canoe, and hiking with his family.


carlosNorah Carlos is the Education Engagement Manager at CBF.  Norah has been an environmental educator at various CBF programs and now works on the professional learning team.  Most recently, she develops and leads Chesapeake Classrooms professional development courses for teachers and administrators focused on environmental literacy initiatives across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  


mayaMaya Alexander has always been captivated with the natural world. Maya is passionate about bringing diversity and inclusivity to the environmental field by encouraging others from various backgrounds and ages to build relationships with the outdoors. She currently works as CBF’s Potomac River Program Manager / Educator, where she provides meaningful watershed educational experiences to connect students to the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding watershed.


rickRick Mittler lives in Richmond, VA and studied Geography and Natural Resources Management at Virginia Tech, Go Hokies! He has been working in environmental education for the past seven years. As an avid disc golfer and aspiring landscaper, Rick does everything he can to get outside and share the outdoors with others. Currently, Rick works as CBF’s Virginia Student Leadership Coordinator.


davisKathlean Davis received a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Mary Washington. Shortly after Kathlean traveled abroad to teach, paint, and explore new ecosystems. As an environmental educator she combines her love of teaching and the natural world. Kathlean’s new mission is to integrate science and art curricula across the watershed through teacher trainings and workshops as an educator with CBF’s Elisabeth Reed Carter Environmental Education Program.