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Christine Conn, Ph.D., CC-P®
Director, Office of Science and Stewardship
Chesapeake and Coastal Service
Department of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-2
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
(410)260-8735 (O)​


Aquatic Resources Education Grant Program


Maryland’s Aquatic Resources Education (ARE) Grants Program provides small grants to fund aquatic-based learning activities for schools -- in classrooms, on school grounds, or for off-campus field experiences for students. Funding is offered to assist public and private schools (preK-12) and environmental education centers that are part of the public school system.

Aquatic Resources Education (ARE) Grant Guidelines and Deadline

ARE grants normally focus on providing funds to allow schools to implement their programs and projects with students, engaging them in hands-on, experiential learning outdoors as well as in the classroom. During the 2020-21 school year, with most schools utilizing distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is offering support through a new lens. Applications will be considered that request support for accommodations for alternative arrangements and platforms for engaging students, such as blended learning comprising a combination of virtual and in-person (at home) learning, including asynchronous student investigations at home or in their community. Support is also offered for professional learning opportunities that enable teachers to transition their aquatic education activities to alternative platforms and settings. We invite you to contact us before applying to discuss any ideas that reimagine outdoor learning during this time.

When are applications accepted?

For the 2021-2022 school year, we are not accepting any new grants due to resource limitations. This is a temporary halt to our program. Please check back on July 15th, 2022 for more information.  ​

For the typical school year, two funding pools are offered:​

  1. For classroom rearing programs such as Trout in the Classroom, the Terrapins Project, and Sunfish & Students, beginning July 15 and
  2. All other aquatic education programs, student stewardship projects, and teacher professional development, beginning September 15.

Who can apply? What’s the limit?

  • Up to $2,500 per year for individual schools for learning activities and stewardship projects tied to the curriculum that benefit Maryland’s aquatic resources.
  • Up to $5,000 to serve multiple schools through school districts or county environmental or outdoor education centers that are part of the public school system.

What will be funded?

Grant requests must have a connection to water!

Student-centered learning, investigation, and stewardship activities about all aquatic resources topics ▪ Aquatic habitat creation/improvement ▪ Water quality improvement ▪ Storm water run-off remediation ▪ Non-point source water pollution improvement ▪ Raising aquatic organisms in the classroom ▪ Innovative, alternate means to engage students in these activities during distance learning ▪ Aquatic-related teacher professional development (trainings, workshops, conferences) to learn how to implement aquatic resources education programs and stewardship projects with students, both in person and using technology and other distance learning practices.

Service learning and sustainable schools projects are strongly encouraged!

Think about how your project can help you meet Environmental Literacy standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Use grant funds to accomplish a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE; see also MWEE videos to build “learner-centered experiences that focus on investigations into local environmental issues that lead to informed action and civic engagement” An Educator’s Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, p. 4

Examples of projects

What are eligible costs?

  • Approved aquatic education projects and associated instructional supplies.
  • Some teacher training costs such as registration fees for workshops and conferences, teacher stipends, costs for partners to provide training and/or technical assistance [within a reasonable budget, limited to available funds]. For the 2020-21 school year, the program has added emphasis on professional learning and support, especially to help shift to engaging students in environmental education in creative ways through distance learning.
  • Time/costs for substitute teachers for project execution and/or during professional development training.
  • Transportation costs such as buses [depending on request, may be capped at 50%] for student field experiences.
  • All trees, shrubs, and plants must be native to Maryland and itemized on your grant budget. If students will be designing projects and choosing species, provide an estimated size of the project and number of plants, and a sample list of species. A final list of species and plants/materials used must be provided to receive reimbursement. Native plant resources can be found here​ and here.

Most grants are awarded as reimbursable funds, depending on award amount. The applicant may request up to 75% of the award up front and must spend the remaining amount out of their own budget and be subsequently reimbursed by DNR. Instructions for invoicing and reporting will be sent with award notification.

The Aquatic Resources Education Grant Program encourages matching funds, partnerships, technical support from local resources, and volunteer time.

What won’t be funded?

Food, computer or video equipment, software, prizes, t-shirts or other promotional items, signage for plantings, travel to attend trainings, or reimbursement for any costs incurred prior to the start date of award, such as completed projects, equipment, program admission fees or field experiences that have already taken place.

Clic​k here for ARE Grant Forms