Nestlé Waters North America recently announced two free educational opportunities for Colorado students, parents and teachers through The Ecology School – EcologyOnline and the Teacher Institute for Watershed Science and Conservation.

Catherine Herter Ervin, community and media relations representative for Nestlé Waters, said the Teacher Institute for Watershed Science and Conservation is now accepting applications from teachers teaching classes in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The goal of this summer “experiential professional development” program “is to train teachers in ecology so they can better instill lessons about the wonders of the natural environment in their students and inspire a new generation of eSTEM leaders across Colorado.” (eSTEM stands for environment, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

Ervin said the free educational sessions will be conducted virtually as well as in-person at The Ecology School’s new River Bend Farm campus in Maine. Stipends are available to pay for costs like travel and childcare.

The Ecology Institute is offering the four-day program twice, July 31-Aug. 3 and Aug. 5-8. Ervin encouraged Colorado teachers to learn more and to apply for the program as soon as possible because of limited availability.

EcologyOnline is a new e-learning ecology curriculum that provides virtual resources to help teachers and parents spark students’ imaginations.

Ervin said, “The program encourages kids to go outside to experience nature,” and teachers “can begin incorporating this tool into their spring curriculum.” Parents can also use EcologyOnline to reinforce ecology learning at home.

“Now more than ever, there’s a need for virtual education and training that motivates people to get outside and explore the nature in their own backyards,” said Drew Dumsch, president, CEO and co-founder of The Ecology School. “These expanded programs help make environmental education more accessible today and in the future.”

Ervin said these programs “are being launched by Nestlé Waters North America’s Maine-based regional spring water brand, Poland Spring – sister company to Arrowhead Brand Mountain Spring Water – and The Ecology School, a national leader in environmental education. This is the first time the innovative programs run by The Ecology School are being made available more broadly to those outside Maine.

“Making these resources available to Colorado is a natural extension of Nestlé Waters North America’s 20-year partnership with The Ecology School and is also an important step in reaching more students and teachers to generate a broader positive impact on the future of our planet.”

A Nestlé Waters press release indicates these programs were developed “thanks in part to the more than $2.3 million in support over a three-year period from Poland Spring.”