Virtually Brilliant: Bringing Ecoliteracy Online

Prior to 2020, Blue Water Baltimore did not offer any virtual programming, which is wild to think about considering our new “normal”. All our educational programs used to be delivered in classrooms or out in the community, and as much as we miss delivering programs in-person, we’ve learned that we can reach a much wider audience by offering our programs online. 

The pandemic brought us indoors, so we sought to learn about the outdoors from within. We were challenged to design creative and accessible programs to educate others.  To make our programs more interesting for online viewers, we developed novel ways to engage with audiences. Storyboarding, shooting, and editing short videos has aided our Ecoliteracy Programs in going virtual. With what we have learned, we intend to continue translating and offering our Ecoliteracy Programs virtually, as well as in-person when it is safe and appropriate to do so.  

“There’s a sweet spot where the virtual world and natural world can both serve as appropriate spaces for learning,” says John Marra, our Ecoliteracy Specialist. Our transition to virtual programming has allowed us to explore ways to represent our vision for the world through digital means. Moreover, our virtual workshops afforded us a few recorded versions of what we do, creating valuable content to share throughout our watershed in the future.  

We are especially proud of our new virtual F.O.G. Monster Mash Workshop, also led by John Marra. In the workshop students turned ordinary used soup cans into monsters that “feed” on fats, oils, and grease (F.O.G.) that may otherwise go down the drain. Many Baltimore residents unintentionally damage the pipes in their home and throughout the city each time they dispose of F.O.G. down their drains. By getting rid of F.O.G. Monsters in the trash rather than the sink, Baltimore residents help protect our pipes, homes, and waterways.  

Reflecting on this workshop, John feels that technology has unlocked a whole new world of possibilities for learning. Are more workshops like this possible? “Totally!” says John, “If we have the right gear and the right people shooting it. We could really make a difference”   

Looking into the future, we are envisioning ecoliteracy programs of various modalities. Ranging from virtual workshops to in-person steam walks, we’ve got a lineup of programs to meet you where you are most comfortable. There’s even some talk of incorporating augmented reality into our programs. The possibilities are truly endless! One thing is for certain: Blue Water Baltimore is keeping up with the times.  

Learn more about our programs and workshops at BlueWaterBaltimore.org/ecoliteracy-programming