The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced yesterday that it has awarded a total of $632,897 in environmental grants to 63 projects, 50 of which involve youth and adults living or working in the field of environmental justice. Schools, institutions, protected areas, and community and environmental organizations received funding.
According to the press release, in the "Northeast region, DEP has awarded a total of 10 projects, including one for Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in Luzerne County. The school received a $20,000 Environmental Education (EE) grant for an outdoor environmental education project. The center point will be a pollinator and bird garden for students at the Kingston school to learn about biodiversity and the impacts of climate change.
The project includes a new location where students and faculty will maintain the pollinator and bird garden and provide an educational tool with guided, in-person, virtual tours, speakers, and workshops addressing biodiversity. The site will implement sustainable landscaping and agricultural practices and address the causes and consequences of climate change. The school will also host forums on climate change and environmental issues, both local and global.
"These grants help provide the foundation for environmental education for people of all ages," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. "This year's Earth Day theme is 'Invest In Our Planet,' and each of these projects represents an investment in furthering Pennsylvanians' environmental education."
"What a great way for students to learn about these environmental issues and to see for themselves how nature and the environment work," said Dean Ritter, Acting Assistant Director of DEP's Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre. "It is through the help of EE grants that outdoor environmental education classrooms can be built, and students can get hands-on experience in what goes on in the outdoor world."
"The EE Award gives Wyoming Seminary the opportunity to invite learners of all ages to explore the species native to our area in pollinator and birding gardens. By building investment in our environment, we hope to promote actions that lead to its preservation," said Nicole Lewis, Director of Sustainability at Wyoming Seminary, and also the grant applicant.
The Environmental Education Grants Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates setting aside 5% of the pollution fines and penalties DEP collects annually for environmental education in Pennsylvania. Since its inception, the DEP has awarded $12.3 million in environmental education grant funding to support 2,135 projects.
The 2022 program selected applications for the development of innovative formal and non-formal education projects that:
• Address grant program priorities of water, climate change, or environmental justice;
• Provide opportunities to expand the public's understanding of Pennsylvania's environmental issues; and
• Develop skills required to make informed decisions.
Grants were awarded to schools, institutions, conservation districts, and environmental and community organizations. Thirty-four local projects received mini-grants of up to $3,000; 28 projects with a broad or statewide reach received general grants of up to $20,000; and one project, designed to engage students and teachers at the local, state, and national levels, received a grant of $65,710. More than 90% of grant funds will support projects that engage youth and adults living or working within environmental justice areas.
Projects Awarded in Northeastern Pennsylvania by County:
• Marywood University: Host an Environmental Stewardship camp for youth (ages 10-14) to help raise awareness on topics such as climate change and watershed conservation, and introduce potential environmentally themed career opportunities. ($2,921)
• Lehigh County Conservation District: Incorporate use of an outdoor living laboratory, including weekly hands-on lessons, into a new high school Environmental Science course. ($3,000)
• Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR): Create a virtual reality curriculum involving a tour of the Askam Abandoned Mine Drainage Treatment System. ($13,879)
• Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School: Establish pollinator and birding gardens to serve as outdoor learning sites. Deliver tours, speaking engagements and workshops to students, teachers, and the public. ($20,000)
• Monroe County Conservation District: Host multiple interactive educational field days for 10th grade students and water resource workshops for Master Watershed Stewards and local Envirothon teams. Develop an educational video for local municipalities and developers. ($10,589)
• Pike County Conservation District (2 projects): Host multiple Leaf Pack Network workshops addressing nonpoint source water pollution for educators, high school students and the public. ($2,562); and install two native plant gardens and conduct pollinator workshops. ($2,908)
• Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation: Hold a 2-day Lake School, providing hands-on field-based education and training in lake water quality monitoring for private homeowner association members. ($19,983)
• Wyoming County Conservation District: Hold two (2) field experiences for students (grades 4-6). Rotational stations will address a variety of topics including PA agriculture, soils, water quality, wildlife, forestry, and climate change. ($2,148)
• Pennsylvania Envirothon: Implement a statewide project that encourages high school students' exploration of environmental issues and provides them with tools for creating healthy communities through stewardship actions. Students and teachers interact at the county, state, and national levels. Analyze the existing program to determine ways of expanding the engagement of teachers and youth in environmental justice areas. ($65,710)
• The Pennsylvania State University: Host a 20-hour Environmental Stewardship Program creating a total of 16 trainees in Blair, Chester, Lackawanna, and Susquehanna counties. Participants will train an additional 80 people, lead workshops, and implement group projects. ($19,525)"