NORRISTOWN, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently awarded a little over $1 million in 2022 Environmental Education Grant funding to 73 projects statewide, including 16 projects in the southeast region.
“The Shapiro Administration is committed to delivering practical solutions to the environmental and safety issues our communities face from climate change and water pollution,” said DEP Acting Secretary Rich Negrin. “Pennsylvania’s environmental educators help provide these solutions. Through impactful work in the field, classroom, and neighborhood, they engage Pennsylvanians of all ages and backgrounds in projects that can have immediate local impacts and spark lasting environmental stewardship.”
The Environmental Education Grant program prioritizes projects that engage youth or adults who live, work, or attend school in Environmental Justice areas. It also prioritizes projects that educate participants to develop practical solutions and take action to help their communities become more climate change resilient or reduce water pollution to improve local water quality.
“Fully 83 percent of this grant funding supports educational projects that will benefit Environmental Justice communities, as we continue to expand our work to help Pennsylvanians most at risk from pollution, climate change related hazards, and other environmental impacts,” said Negrin.
Funding was awarded to schools and colleges, environmental and community organizations, and county conservation districts for a range of hands-on programs for students, community projects for adults, teacher training workshops, and more.
Ranging from a school’s rewilding project to a faith organization’s program to train residents to be cool roof and solar panel installers, 16 projects in southeast counties received a total of $305,023.
- National Audubon Society: $30,000 to host workshops in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties that promote establishing native pollinator plants in a variety of settings, from small urban settings to suburban gardens to larger public and private spaces. Attendees will learn how native plants can help provide clean water, healthy soil, and a balanced ecosystem.
- Bucks County Conservation District: $17,500 to develop county-wide education programs, including presentations for youth (K-12) and multi-municipality public events. Programs will be accessed through a website menu of curriculums with associated displays, brochures, and hands-on materials.
- Heritage Conservancy: $30,000 to host four professional development teacher training sessions that provide the tools, knowledge, and resources necessary to implement National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences with students (grades 4-12), including student-driven environmental action projects.
- Green Valleys Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania: $4,588 to host an after-school water club for middle school students. Each of seven three-hour club meetings will begin in a seventh-grade classroom and then transition to a field site.
- The Garage Community & Youth Center: $30,000 to host 24 workshops for attendees of year-round youth development programs for students in grades 6-12. The workshops will include education, hands on activities, field trips, monitoring of frequently flooded waterways, gardening, and practical hands-on green practices. Students will create a bilingual outdoor classroom space to showcase their learnings for community members.
- Delaware County Conservation District: $5,000 to host a one-day sustainability conference, located within an environmental justice area, that aligns with the DEP 2021 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan and the 2022 Delaware County Sustainability Plan. Multiple tracks will engage K-12 and college students, academics, community members and leaders, citizen scientists, non-profits, and businesses.
- Montgomery County Intermediate Unit: $29,789 to create an environmental education mobile lab to provide authentic local field experiences for students. The mobile lab will offer at least two visits (one in the fall and one in the spring) to an estimated 20-25 schools.
- Riverbend Environmental Education Center: $28,780 to conduct a summer institute for elementary and middle school teachers, utilizing the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience framework. Continuing support will be provided through monthly virtual meetings and pairing with an environmental educator. Additionally, the project will engage students in an outdoor experience at their school, leading to a student-driven action project.
- Souderton Area School District: $4,952 to ReWild some campus areas, beginning with the high school, in an effort to return some of the land back to native species to support the environment and encourage climate change awareness. Students will participate in lessons, gather native seeds, propagate the seeds, prepare the grounds, and plant the seedlings.
- Bottle Underground: $4,275 to address climate change by organizing three education events and a social media campaign composed of three informational videos to increase awareness and encourage environmentally responsible behaviors involving single-use waste and glass reuse.
- Fishtown Neighbors Association: $30,000 to educate residents and visitors about the rebounding Delaware River ecosystem by creating a bold, interactive plant and animal block-long mural, executed by local public arts high school students. Programs and activities will be delivered during events, such as an annual festival, which attracts thousands of visitors.
- Friends of Adaire: $4,888 to organize year-long stewardship efforts for pre-K to eighth grade students, and their teachers and families, focusing on the rain garden and greenspace in this Philadelphia public school, located less than 3,000 feet from the Delaware River. Students will participate in hands-on activities that deepen their understanding of how their schoolyard influences water quality of the nearby river and supports native plants, animals, and insects.
- Lankenau Environmental Science Magnet High School: $4,999 for a freshwater mussel project in partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department and other organizations. The project will engage at least 90 high school students in hands-on interdisciplinary classroom and field experiences. A recirculating aquaponics system will be used to cultivate mussels for the cleaning of waterways.
- Philadelphia Solar Energy Association: $30,000 to expand implementation of its Solar Power Resource and Innovation for Teachers and Students program for middle school students focusing on practical solutions to climate change. The project, suitable for formal, nonformal and after-school programs, includes lesson plans, activities, teacher training, and interactive materials. Additionally, the association will provide support to schools that have or plan to install solar systems.
- School District of Philadelphia: $30,000 to develop a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience, addressing environmental literacy and climate change. Selected classroom teachers and students will plant and maintain trees in four Philadelphia schoolyards.
- Spirit and Truth Fellowship: $20,252 to work with partners in the low-income community of Huntingdon Park to (1) expand the climate leader network to represent at least five regional religious congregations; (2) run two neighborhood climate education classes; (3) start an eight-week cool roof coating training course for residents and develop a system for subsidizing coating costs; and (4) run two 14-week courses on solar installation and develop a system for supporting graduates in their employment search.
The Environmental Education Grants Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates setting aside 5 percent of the pollution fines and penalties DEP collects annually for environmental education in Pennsylvania. To date, DEP has awarded $13.3 million in Environmental Education Grant funding to support 2,199 projects.
For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection website.