Battelle Grant Supports CREA’s Nature-Based Science for K-12 students

Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) is grateful to have been awarded $12,000 by Battelle in support of our nature-based science programs for local public schools. Battelle is the world’s largest research and development nonprofit.

The funding will ensure that CREA can continue to teach nature-based science to elementary students and support outdoor research by a local high school biology class. 

CREA hosts elementary classes at our Ecology Center, located at Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham. During field trips in spring and fall, students do hands-on, ‘place-based’ science that helps them understand the landscape, life cycles, and ecological processes present in their own backyards and community. Students relish looking at the natural world up close and learning through exploration.

CREA also leads trainings for elementary teachers. These trainings prepare teachers to take learning outdoors on school campuses and to implement the discovery-based Next Generation Science Standards adopted by Maine in 2019.

Local schools value CREA’s expertise in nature-based education because teachers have seen how enthusiastically their students learn during CREA field trips and programs. While schools pay modest program fees, field trips to CREA are highly subsidized, as are many of the other ways in which our Educators support teachers with animal specimens, equipment, and expertise. So, this funding is invaluable, making it possible to continue our longstanding partnership with local schools.

The funding will bring nature-based science to approximately 1,500 students and 75 teachers in the coming year. The learning that occurs as a result of this grant will build upon ongoing work by CREA and local schools to strengthen science curricula in the elementary grades.

CREA gained access to this funding through its connection with Scott Libby, a local resident and Environmental Scientist with Battelle. Scott mentors high school biology students as part of CREA’s partnership with Mt. Ararat Biology teacher Glenn Evans. Glenn’s Advanced Biology students come to the Preserve for eight sessions every fall to collect data on the river, invertebrates, plants, animals, and more. Scott, an oceanographer, usually mentors the water quality group. Students present their findings to the public at the Topsham Public Library in the winter.

Battelle’s charitable giving program is a perfect fit for our work, as we aspire to motivate students to connect with nature and science, and maybe even become future scientists. If you’re not familiar with Battelle, here’s how they describe their mission:

Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. For more information, visit

 Thank you Battelle! 

Photo: Battelle Environmental Scientist Scott Libby mentoring Mt. Ararat high school biology students measuring water quality in the Cathance River in 2022.