CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Educators are working to teach students environmental issues that may be right in their backyard.

New York Sea Grant, an organization that targets issues along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, is working to create environmental stewardship among some of the youngest learners.

According to New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Coastal Literacy Specialist Nate Drag, partners with educators in the Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region to provide accessible curriculum resources on local environmental issues.

“So what we try to do is provide resources that teachers, parents and educators can use to connect kids to the Great Lakes,” Drag said. “That comes in the form of curriculum, hands-on activities and kits and professional development.”

Resources available through Sea Grant include its recently launched intermediate Lake Sturgeon Curriculum, virtual field trips and its “Environ-Time Recommended Reading List,” which is a list of 49 books all focused on the environment.

These books focus on stories in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, diversity in science, biodiversity and more. Many of the books are based in many readers’ backyards, which according to Drag aims to help spark environmental stewardship.

“Right here in the Great Lakes, we have something that’s globally unique and significant,” Drag expressed.
“Twenty percent of all the world’s fresh water flows through the Great Lakes. If we can get kids and adults there and really build that strong bond, it can be a lifelong relationship.

All 49 books are available online with accompanying activities. However, many of the books are available at different independent book stores in the North Country.

One includes the Little Book Store which is located directly across from the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, New York.

The store’s Owner, Rebecca Kinnie, puts these books on display at the front of the store, which features titles such as “The Day the Great Lakes Drained Away,” “Good Night Great Lakes,” and other titles that focus on Lake Sturgeon conservation such as “River Magic.” Kinnie shared how she hopes these books inspire even the youngest readers.

“The young people of the area are really the ones who are going to be growing up, knowing that it’s an important thing to take care of the environment around them,” Kinnie noted.

The Little Book Store also attracts a large seasonal crowd in the summer months, which is why Kinnie said she also hopes these books will inspire visitors from near and far to respect the surrounding environment.

“We have one of the most beautiful rivers in the entire world,” She expressed. “And part of the reason it is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world is that we treat well.”

Overall, with these opportunities, both SeaGrant and its book store partners are focusing on local environmental education and how this can turn into action.

“We can’t change the entire world without changing things locally and just being more informed. And a lot of it is sharing the science and helping kids understand really the biology, the chemistry, the geology, the history,” Drag added. “So then they can make informed decisions, and how they feel their community or their school should make those changes.”

New York Sea Grant also partners with Kayleighbug Books in Morristown, The River’s End Bookstore in Oswego, and Golden Bee Bookshop in Liverpool. The full Environ-Time Recommended Reading List can be found online.