Hudson River Education: Building a Pathway

Lead PI: Margie Turrin , Marisa Lynn Annunziato

Unit Affiliation: Marine and Polar Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

November 2022 - October 2025
North America ; United States
Project Type: Education


A relationship with the local environment, pursuit of STEM pathways, and a passion for stewardship are most often fostered through memorable field experiences that provide students opportunities to inquire, investigate and explore the natural world. With environmental science best taught outdoors, the Hudson River estuary serves as the perfect classroom to engage students in scientific research that opens the door to a career in the sciences. After over two years of the pandemic with strict covid restrictions, students have been deprived of lab based experimentation or field experiences that allow them exercise the science research processes or observe the natural environment. In speaking with both teachers and students, we have learned that many students lack foundational STEM knowledge and skills due to the virtual setting, siloed learning as opposed to collaborative work, and deficit resources or funding. ‘Building a Pathway’, an expansion on the existing ‘Next Generation of Hudson River Educators’ Program run out of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s (LDEO) Hudson River Field Station, specifically looks to address these challenges by providing place-based learning opportunities focused on the Hudson River and the surrounding watershed, to increase science and literacy through enhancing the student’s relationship with the natural world.

The program places a special emphasis on the recruitment of students that are historically underrepresented in the sciences as the environmental sciences continue to be some of the least diverse professions. Environmental science is predominately white dominated field with only 2.86% of environmental science degrees being held by students that identify as black or African American (Data USA, 2020). The lack of diversity in this field has been attributed to a variety of barriers including lack of accessible mentors, poor understanding of the range of job opportunities, limited family support for these fields as career choices, limited internship opportunities, and the expectation that students complete unpaid internships for experience. Any one of these could prevent historically underrepresented high school or college students from engaging in STEM activities, but together they present a significant barrier to entry. The ‘Building a Pathway’ expansion intends to remove these barriers to ensure there is equitable access to impactful environmental science opportunities in Rockland County.