Teachers worry about Trump cuts to Sea Grant program

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By Payne Horning

This story originally appeared on Great Lakes Today and is republished here with permission.

For years, the Sea Grant program has helped Americans learn about the oceans, the Great Lakes and other waters. Now President Trump wants to stop funding it – and some teachers fear the program will disappear.

Teachers work on classroom activity at SUNY Oswego’s Rice Creek field station. Image: Payne Horning

At SUNY Oswego’s Rice Creek field station, science teachers from New York recently used plastic chips and a map to test a classroom activity that lets students compare the depths of the great lakes. Sea Grant’s Helen Domske said these workshops help teachers find ways to reach thousands of students.

“They are the next generation of scientists. … So if we don’t get them trained and interested, the lakes won’t have the protection they need,” she said.

Trump’s budget outline says Sea Grant is a low priority that primarily has a state and local impact. He wants to boost funding for the military and for a wall on the Mexican border.

Outside the field station, the teachers hiked through the woods to learn how the area could be used for a field trip. Kristin Scheehan-Vautrin and others talked about the value of sea grant programs.

“I think a lot of these activities allow the students to have experiences, not only outdoors but learning about their natural resources,” she said. “And I think that’s the only way they can become a good steward for those natural resources.”

Teacher Dan Mainville said Sea Grant’s expertise is worth the investment. “I mean how do you replace that? I don’t think you can. To remove that funding is ridiculous … counterintuitive.”

Trump’s proposed cuts are facing bipartisan resistance in Congress, which can restore some or all of the Sea Grant funding.

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