Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (WBNERR) is a living laboratory and regional resource at one of the northeast’s most studied estuaries. Slated for development, most of the Reserve lands were bought by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the urging of the Citizens for the Protection of Waquoit Bay (CPWB) in the early 1980’s. In 1988, the Reserve was designated a National Estuarine Research Reserve for the purpose of studying this area in order to improve the understanding of coastal ecosystems and human influences on them, then translating that information to promote more informed decision making regarding coastal resources. Waquoit Bay is a representative example of shallow bays throughout the northeastern U.S., so research here improves the understanding of these areas in general and promotes stewardship of the coast throughout the region. Today, the Reserve continues to work with partners to preserve land and water and related ecosystems, investigate compelling issues facing our coast, and provide education to students, teachers, coastal decision-makers and community members.