First Rings First Fellowship

Stipends, Professional Development, and Resources for Watershed Education

Funding provided by NOAA (B-WET) grant

The First Rings First Fellowship (FRFF) Program provides first-ring science teachers in Cuyahoga County with FREE resources and professional development training to create meaningful, place-based watershed projects with their students. Through workshops, tours, peer-to-peer networking, and funding support for project equipment, fellowship participants will obtain knowledge and tools to introduce their students to Great Lakes literacy and watershed restoration concepts. These exciting benefits will help teachers develop meaningful watershed education experiences to implement in their classrooms. The FRFF Program meets multidisciplinary high school and middle school Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) experiential learning curricula needs, while aligning with the goals of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC) management plans.

Participation in the Fellowship includes*:

  • Teacher stipend of $300 and up to 3 free Teacher graduate credits from the University of Ashland ($540 value)
  • Training and curriculum guides for secondary environmental education from Project WET, Healthy Water-Healthy People, Wonders of Wetlands, Project Learning Tree: Green schools, Green Jobs, Places We Live and Focus on Risk, Project Wild: Aquatic and Science & Civics ($145 value)
  • ODNR wildlife education collection permit
  • One-year membership to the Educator Resource Center
  • Ongoing free access to a special Cuyahoga SWCD Water Reporter school account (training and support included)
  • One required free immersive PD experience, one optional experience (Old Woman Creek, Great Lake Erie Educators Exchange, Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center)
  • Teacher tours of the Watershed Stewardship Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Botanical Gardens and school outdoor learning sites
  • Workshops at Brecksville Reservation, University of Akron Field Station, Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve
  • Equipment for your school worth up to $550: Pocket Pro+ Multi 2 Tester for pH/Cond/TDS/Salinity w/ replaceable Sensor, replacement sensor, kick seine, dip net, PBL kits/ door prize kits/ materials to make water quality monitoring equipment
  • Funding for substitute teacher and transportation costs to host a 2022/2023 student field day
  • Technical support for student meaningful watershed education experiences (MWEE)
  • Free student symposium/career expo to highlight student projects—presentation awards for school and students

*Note: Receipt of teacher stipend, graduate credits, and other program incentives is dependent on the completion of the fellowship requirements. Cuyahoga SWCD recognizes that it may be challenging for teachers and other participants to attend all mandatory fellowship events and training. FRFF Program staff can work with individual teachers to maximize resources and benefits for program participants.


Interested in participating in the First Rings First Fellowship Program? We are currently seeking teachers from Bedford, East Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Parma, South Euclid, and Garfield Heights to participate in our second cohort of fellows.

If you are a Cuyahoga first ring high school or middle school teacher interested in learning more or participating, please contact Jacki Zevenbergen at jzevenbergen@cuyahogaswcd.org or 216.503.1338. Space is limited- sign up today!

If you are interested and teach at a non-first ring school or if you teach middle school in one of these communities, please still contact us to discuss participation opportunities.

Funding support for the FRFF Program is provided through the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant.


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