Teacher Professional Development
Past Events

Wild and Cultured Fisheries Research at GCRL

July 9-11, 2019

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) includes multiple centers which are responsible for researching a variety of marine and coastal information, and educational instruction. Three main centers, the Marine Education Center, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Thad Cochran Aquaculture Center, conduct both field and laboratory work dedicated to understanding and interpreting our coastal environment. This workshop will investigate aquaculture techniques, copepod hatchery process and importance, shark biology and habitat use of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, and how to age a shark using vertebral rings.

In this workshop, participants will learn be exposed to the basics of aquaculture, a tour of the Thad Cochran Aquaculture Center, a boat tour collecting and investigating plankton, and investigation of shark biology and aging. Each of these topics can be brought back to the classroom in a variety of forms.  A discussion of environmental stewardship and collaboration of ideas and potential lesson curriculum will be held.

It will be a three-day workshop focusing on GCRL Lab and Field Techniques. Participants will

  • investigate aquaculture techniques, the copepod hatchery process and its importance,
  • participate in a bayou boat tour collecting plankton and local organisms,
  • discuss shark biology and habitat use of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, and
  • Work in the new Citizen Science Lab to determine the age of a shark using vertebral rings (!).

The Poop Map Project

September 20-21

This September, we are introducing The Poop Map Project through a 2-day watershed education workshop for teachers of grades 7-12 sponsored by the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program. Our focus will be – you guessed it – pathogenic bacteria that enter natural water bodies from rainwater runoff. 

Participants will

  1. Collect, analyze, enter, and interpret water samples collected from the Miss Peetsy B along Davis Bayou, from the new Marine Education Center to the Mississippi Sound;
  2. Learn about the Mississippi Beach Monitoring Program and its policies on beach closure;
  3. Discuss the Marine Debris Tracking App (sponsored by NOAA) and public outreach as stewardship;
  4. Schedule an MEC Miss Peetsy B field cruise trip for 40 students. Students will receive lunch and there is an allowance for school bus transport;
  5. Receive a stipend for completion and lunch both days.  If you need lodging, please ask about it because we might be able to provide that as well.

NOAA B-WET — Problem-based learning in Community Resilience

October 25-26



During October we will be hosting a two day workshop. This workshop is a part of a NOAA B-WET project that focuses on promoting community resilience to coastal hazards. This program builds on other watershed literacy programs we have produced to educate high school students on rising sea levels, and coastal hazards that may affect their communities. Using problem-based-learning, teams of students explore historical flooding in their neighborhoods and propose a solution to one of several coastal community challenges. Selected students from each school will present their ideas to community resilience professionals at the 5th  Stewardship Summit for Resilience at the new Marine Education Center.

This program has been piloted by two local teachers. We would like to expand this program by training 12 additional teachers (from LA, MS, AL, or FL) to teach this lesson to their students and participate in a stewardship summit.

Participants in this workshop must be high school teachers whom are able to deliver this project in their school or district. Looking forward to working with you this fall!

Any questions please contact me at Danielle.bailey@usm.edu or 228-818-8088.

link to register:



Watershed Education Aboard the R/V Jim Franks

June 14-16, 2017

Agenda Registration

Watershed Education Aboard the R/V McIlwain, Teacher Professional Development at GCRL

All participant's students must be at least 12 years old

A paid field trip in fall to GCRL may be available dependent on funds.

Join us as we begin year three of this watershed education program that will guide you in engaging your middle and high school aged students in a meaningful watershed educational experience (MWEE) that takes place during the fall of 2017 school year in your classroom and during a research cruise on the Pascagoula River aboard GCRL’s R/V Jim Franks

This program is not limited to classroom teachers.  Any adult with a goal of teaching environmental stewardship may lead a group of children of appropriate ages through this experience, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program.  The program targets teachers and group leaders working with underserved and under-represented students located in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

One chaperone from each participating group must attend the three-day training session at GCRL to learn how to deliver material that will prepare students for their research cruise.  That person will receive a stipend, CEUs if appropriate, and instructional materials for use in the classroom. Dormitory accommodations may be available at GCRL for out-of-town travelers. Please ask well in advance to check availability and make a reservation.

Extreme Environmental Education: Comparing the Barrier Islands of Louisiana and Mississippi

October 24-26, 2014

Begins Friday at 12:00 p.m. in Lafayette, LA or 2:00 p.m. in Berwick, LA. 
Ends Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in Lafayette, LA or 8:30 p.m. in Berwick, LA. 
Group travels to Grand Isle Friday, stays at the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Marine Lab on Grand Isle for two nights, and travels to Ship Island via Gulfport, MS on Sunday.
  Flyer  Registration  Video Introduction 

Extreme Environmental Education: Comparing the Barrier Islands of Louisiana and Mississippi, Teacher Professional Development at GCRL

View first-hand the similarities and differences between Louisiana and Mississippi barrier islands.  Compare their geologic origins, habitats and roles in protecting fragile coastlines.  Visit Grand Isle, Louisiana and Ship Island, Mississippi to collect samples and learn with environmental professionals (Dr. Jessie Kastler, GCRL; Mr. Andrew Barron, BTNEP) and experienced field teachers (Ms. Mary Macklin, Berwick High School; Mr. John Dupuis, St. Thomas More Catholic High School).    

This workshop is sponsored by the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Sea Grant, the Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program as well as GCRL and MASGC.  It is for Louisiana teachers and will provide about 16 CLUs.  For more information, please email Ms. Mary Macklin.

See below for a similar program to be held in spring 2015 for Mississippi and Alabama teachers. 

Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME) Annual Meeting:
Any Week Can Be Shark Week in Your Classroom

November 7 - 8, 2014

Begins with supper on Friday at 5:00 pm.
Sunday - Professional Development 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m, ends ~9:00 p.m. after the party.

Held at GCRL.  Agenda   Registration

Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME) Annual Meeting: Any Week Can Be Shark Week in Your Classroom, Teacher Professional Development at GCRL

Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME) Annual Meeting: Any Week Can Be Shark Week in Your Classroom, Teacher Professional Development at GCRL

Join us for the Annual Southern Association of Marine Educators (SAME) Meeting to be held November 7-9, 2014 at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.  After hosting the National Marine Educators Association meeting in Mobile last year, SAME is returning to the model of previous years by including significant professional development.  The highlight of the weekend will be a presentation by Jill Hendon, who is responsible for GCRL’s Shark Lab and an excellent speaker.

Also on the agenda will be new activities developed at GCRL to teach about sharks in your classroom, the SAME business meeting and award presentation, and a Saturday evening party/silent auction on the porch of the new Field Studies Building where the breeze is always blowing.  Registration, lodging, meals and CEUs will be available for purchase.  Field excursions are sponsored by MASGC.  Please nominate a colleague for the Outstanding Educator Award. Email Jessica Kastler if you are bringing an auction item.


Special Opportunity for Teachers: Coastal Concerns for Clinicians

August 2, 2014
Half-day, Saturday,USM Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Cedar Point Campus
7:30 a.m. breakfast, session from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.,   Details and Agenda   Registration

Learn about Vibrio cholerae and other potential threats at the Coastal Concerns for Clinicians workshop at GCRL Flesh eating bacteria, parasites, viruses, harmful algae, and other water-borne threats to humans. Learn about their occurrence in local waters, methods to culture and study them in the lab, and treatment protocols.  This half-day Saturday workshop is designed for medical professionals, but we encourage well-prepared science teachers to attend. 

Watershed Explorations II: Oral History

Bay Watershed Education Training - Teacher training and Date to be determined, April 23-25 2014
Three days, Thursday - Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Watershed Explorations II: Oral History, Teacher Professional Development workshop at GCRL

Learn how to use oral history to extend your exploration of watershed change over time.  The schedule includes presentations on interviewing, filming and editing to produce a short video.  Participants will receive resources including a camera, tripod and software to facilitate video production at school.  Please note: Previous participation in Watershed Explorations I or the B-WET Shifting Baselines project is required to participate in this workshop.

Oil Spill Science Update

February 21-22, 2014

Two days, Friday and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Itinerary [pdf]

Teacher Professional Development, Oil Spill Science Update Workshop

What is the role of science during an environmental emergency?  What have scientists learned since the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill?  How can you share this with your students?  Join us to consider how science expands knowledge and how the body of knowledge has changed since the 2010 oil spill.

Coastal Ecology Aboard Miss Peetsy B

Two sessions, December 5 and 6, 2013
One day, Thursday or Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Two sessions are available. Sign up for either.

Marsh Ecology Aboard Miss Peetsy B, workshop for teachers at GCRL


Learn content relevant to field experiences available at the Marine Education Center. Participants will explore local marshes aboard the vessel Miss Peetsy B. and learn to implement lessons that highlight basic principles of coastal ecology. Curriculum materials aligned to common core and state standards will be provided.

Typical itinerary

Watershed Explorations I: Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience

Bay Watershed Education Training - Teacher training and November 15-16, 2013

Two days, Friday and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Itinerary [pdf]

Watershed Explorations I: Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, TPD at GCRL

Enhance your ability to teach science and stewardship with this Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) that explores watershed change across the landscape and over decades using maps, aerial photographs, and outdoor experiences.





Teachers learn about teaching marine sciences aboard the research vessel Hermes during a TPD workshop at GCRL