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Educational Outreach
PIER stands for Protection, Involvement, Education and Restoration

Since its inception, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) has taken an active role in environmental education by publishing reports, developing curricula for schools and initiating community activities. In February 2003, SBEP launched the PIER program, an innovative education program aimed at educating and inspiring area students. The P.I.E.R. Program is offered to public and private schools and home schoolers in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

PIERThe purpose of the PIER program is to:

* educate students about the local coastal  ecology

* promote the benefits of environmental stewardship

* increase students' environmental literacy and stewardship behaviors

The PIER program is an in-school education program and has a variety of facets to it. One, SBEP offers a FREE curriculum about coastal habitats, invasive species, watersheds and fire ecology to educators of K – 8th grade called Coastal Habitats. We also pay for field trips for students to go outside and go to one of our restoration sites where they engage in a variety of

educational and environmental games.


How to Participate in P.I.E.R.

Curriculum and Field Trips for Grades K - 8
HabitatsSarasota Bay Coastal Habitats is a unique curriculum developed in conjunction with Mote Marine Laboratory and Around the Bend Nature Tours.  The curriculum provides lesson plans and activities about watersheds, habitats, wildlife, native and non-native plants, storm water run off and pollution. Each topic has background information, resources, lesson plans and activities. Lessons correlate with the Sunshine State Standards and National Science Standards.

Download a copy of Sarasota Bay Coastal Habitats grade K-3 section only.

Download a copy of Sarasota Bay Coastal Habitats grade 4-8 section only.

Download a copy of Sarasota Bay Coastal Habitats fieldtrips section only.

Download a complete copy of Sarasota Bay Coastal Habitats.

The P.I.E.R. Program field trips provide hands-on activities such as water sampling and water quality testing, conservation games, and plant and animal identification skills. Field trip activities directly correlate to the in-class curriculum lesson plans and activities. The field trips give students the chance to personally experience the beauty of Sarasota Bay.

Field trip destinations include Joan M. Durante Park, Coquina BayWalk at Leffis Key, South Lido Park and Quick Point Nature Preserve. SBEP provides onsite naturalists to lead the field trip and activities. To schedule a field trip please contact Around the Bend Nature Tours at 941-794-8773 or

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Curriculum and Fieldtrips for 9th-12th grades
Low Impact Development (LID) Field Trip
Around the Bend Nature Tours recently offered the first Sarasota Bay PIER high school Low Impact Development (LID) field trip to Booker High School students with a field trip to Oscar Scherer State Park.

In a pre-visit trip to Booker High Karen Fraley introduced students to LID principles including rain gardens and bio-swales, rain barrels, cisterns, reducing pavement and increasing green space, permeable pavers, soil amendments, tree box planters & green roofs. Career options in the "green industries" were also discussed during the school visit.

Forty six students and three chaperones visited Oscar Scherer State Park to put their new knowledge into practice. Water quality samples were taken at five sites and evaluated for temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity and salinity. Students also created their own storm water retention system using LID principles and identified native plants and local habitats. Funding was provided by a Sarasota Environmental Council grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

We are also working on developing a teaching resources and field study program for high school students and an environmental student internship program.  The current advisory committee consists of representatives from SBEP, National Park Service, Manatee County Schools, Sarasota County Schools, Florida State Parks, New College of Florida, Florida Sea Grant, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and the Foundation for Teaching Economics.  If you have any questions about this project please contact or (941) 955-8085.


Science Teacher Training Workshops at New College of Florida

The science teacher training workshops are offered three times a year by Sandra L. Gilchrist, Ph.D., Chair of the Natural Sciences Department. Teachers from all grade levels are encouraged to attend the workshops whose focus is improving teaching skills and the understanding of science and how to do science. Workshops run a full-day on Saturdays thereby offering teachers the opportunity to earn continuing education credits. Workshops are sponsored by SBEP as part of the PIER program.


Workshop I: Introduction to Estuaries

Workshop II: Waves and Currents

Workshop III: Coastal Fire Ecology

Workshops are completed for this year but will resume in the fall of 2009. For more information please contact Dr. Sandra Gilchrist at

Need a Guest Speaker?
The SBEP Public Outreach Coordinator is available to come talk to your students about watersheds and stormwater pollution.  The talk can be geared towards any age group and features interaction with an Enviroscape (AKA plastic watershed model).  To schedule a guest speaker contact or call (941) 955-8085.


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