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  • Kimberly Belfer

A New Year, An Adapted Business


Happy New Year to all our followers and partners! We're excited to see what 2021 has in store for us, as we continue to grow as a local business here in Wilmington, North Carolina. As we all know, 2020 hit a lot of small businesses, ours included. Although we had three scheduled schools we were planning to visit, with schools closing, it put our Watershed Walkabout program on hold for the remainder of the school year, as well as the beginning of this school year. We have since been in contact with one of those schools to reschedule, but it still set us back an entire year of programming.


That being said, we adapted as best as we could, with providing two fun activity books for kids to enjoy, as we all navigated the pandemic together, but separately distanced. Our Coloring and Activity book and Adventure Guide book are still available for purchase on Amazon, and we will make both available on our table at future events this year and years to come. Although we were unable to completely convert our Watershed Walkabout program to a virtual learning experience, we have been building it behind the scenes and will be ready to be back in the classroom when time and schools allow. We are adding a virtual component to every lesson, which will include a short video introduction to each ecosystem students will learn about in the experiment and activity we do in their classroom.

One learning experience we had battling this pandemic is that community is the key to everyone's success. We would not survive as a business without the help and assistance of partners in the community. Thanks to our interview with WILMA magazine, a women's business magazine, we will be reaching out to other media sources in order to get our name and bio out to the community. We would also like to reach out to more organizations and affiliates of environmental education and work collaboratively with them throughout the year to provide some exciting resources and lessons.


As we look ahead to what 2021 has to offer us, we will be brainstorming new ideas and new ways to expand our programs, to include teacher workshops. By providing experiential experiences to teachers, we can broaden their horizons on how to incorporate marine and environmental science into their everyday science curriculum. Because most elementary schools do not focus too much of their daily time on this subject, we'd like to assist them in finding ways to use cross-curriculum techniques, so that science can be a part of all subjects.

After attending an incredible conference, we are working on creating a more inclusive program, so that we fully recognize and give reverence to the native people who lived in our community. We are researching ways to incorporate a land acknowledgement into every lesson we provide, as well as teach about indigenous land use in our background introduction. We want every child going forward to know who was here before us and how they incorporated the land into everyday life, so that they too can become stewards of our environment.


Also in 2021, we will be providing more for adults, not just in the form of teacher workshops. We recognize that we focused most of our programs on students and kids and we want to extend our love of marine science to parents as well. Although we hand out stickers with our logo to students after each lesson, we are working on providing things that students can take home to our parents, as well as giveaways for adults at events. A child shouldn't be the only one getting excited over science, and we want to excite their parents as well.

Growing up, our Director of Education had two different parents, one that loved science and one that didn't care for it. Her father would be right there with her, playing with her telescope and chemistry set, while her mother didn't want to hear about the "gross" dissections she conducted in school. We recognize that not all adults will be drawn to science, but when they can be incorporated into the program and included in the experiments, they might change their minds a little. Just a butterfly in a garden can brighten a parent's day and to learn how they can change their plant species to accommodate more butterflies, then they have embraced science.


What we love about marine science and environmental science is that it can be done anywhere there is land and water. With our Watershed Walkabout program, we are able to bring these incredible ecosystems into the classroom, but we'd like to expand our program in the future to include outdoor exploration. With our Explore Your Watershed series of books, it gives everyone, not just students, an opportunity to get outside and explore their local ecosystems as a family unit, especially during the pandemic, when families were to social distance from other families. From this point forward, we'd like to work with homeschool families to present more of our lessons, as well as these outdoor experiences, before we add them as a component to our Watershed Walkabout program.


We have a full year planned for 2021 and we're hoping we'll be able to execute some new features to our business and our outreach program. As we look ahead to the new year, we recognize the challenges we faced and we are happy that we were not one of the businesses that had to close our doors permanently, only temporarily. Like all creatures we teach about in our Watershed Walkabout program, we have learned to adapt to the changes and move forward with time. We can't wait to see what this year has in store for us and can't wait to provide the best programming we can to our communities!


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