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Nature Conservancy


5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Types

  • Video, 3 minutes, 26 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Article

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Oregon, Oregon Coast

Why Estuaries Matter

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  • This video and article explains the ecological, cultural, and economic importance of estuaries, particularly in the life cycle of salmon and other important species in Oregon.
  • Students will learn about the risks to these coastal habitats, the benefits that estuaries provide, and how supporting and protecting estuaries can benefit everyone.
Teaching Tips


  • The video ends with a speaker giving a list of ways to get involved with conservation, which is helpful for encouraging students to take action.
  • The video uses music and artistic cinematography to help viewers appreciate the function and beauty of estuaries.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should know what an estuary is and should be familiar with the importance of biodiversity.
  • Some students, including multilingual students, may need definitions for the terms habitat, marsh, swamp, nursery, ecological, restore, restoration, and spawn.
  • Multilingual students and/or students who struggle with auditory processing may benefit from the closed captioning function and/or slowing the video playback speed.
  • For the article, multilingual students can use the Google Translate Chrome extension to translate the article into their strongest language for reading.


  • This video and article can supplement a lesson on habitats and habitat restoration. Students can discuss the importance of estuaries as a habitat, ways to restore these habitats, and habitat restoration as a climate solution.
  • After watching the video, students can research native plants that would support estuaries or other habitats in their area. Students can discuss how planting these native plants can contribute to better habitats, reduce carbon emissions, and fight the effects of climate change.
  • For a hands-on project, students can plan a trip to plant native plants in a restoration area with a local organization.
  • Students in language arts classes can write a persuasive essay or letter to a friend, convincing them to go out and get involved in conservation and restoration.
  • After reading the article, students studying animals and/or biology can map out the life cycle of a salmon, highlighting an estuary's important role in the salmon's journey. They can then show how it is impacted if a salmon is unable to use an estuary as a stopover point.
  • After reading the article, students can do further research on tide gates and discuss intended vs. unintended consequences of tide gates.
  • Students in geography classes can create maps of local estuaries and discuss ways to preserve those habitats.
Scientist Notes
This resource from The Nature Conservancy explores the importance of estuaries in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout, the resource takes care to point out that healthy estuaries and tidal wetlands benefit both wildlife and human communities. A video illustrates the role of estuaries as a sort of nursery for fish and many other species, as well as conservation and restoration efforts in a wetlands preserve. Estuaries are highlighted as a critical habitat for salmon, and efforts to improve fish populations through repairing or replacing tide gates are discussed. This resource features clear text and first-hand accounts in the video from scientists and activists doing the work to restore Oregon’s estuaries. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
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