Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that a total of $632,897 in environmental grant funds has been awarded to 63 projects, 50 of which engage youth and adults living or working in areas of environmental justice. Grants have been awarded to schools, institutions, conservation districts, and environmental and community organizations.
In the Northeast region, DEP 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 focal point will be a pollinator and bird garden for Kingston school students 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 and virtual tours, guest speakers and workshops on 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 local and global environmental issues.
“These grants help lay the foundation for environmental education for people of all ages,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This year’s Earth Day theme is ‘Investing in Our Planet,’ and each of these projects represents an investment in advancing the environmental education of Pennsylvanians.”
“What a great way for students to learn about these environmental issues and see for themselves how nature and the environment work,” said Dean Ritter, acting deputy director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office. at 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 of what is happening in the outside world.”
“The EE Award gives Wyoming Seminary the opportunity to invite learners of all ages to explore species native to our region in pollinator and bird gardens. By creating investments in our environment, we hope to promote actions that lead to its preservation,” said Nicole Lewis, director of sustainability at Wyoming Seminary, and also an applicant for the grant.
The 2022 program has selected applications for the development of innovative formal and non-formal education projects that:
• Address grant program priorities related to water, climate change, or environmental justice;
• Provide opportunities to broaden the public’s understanding of Pennsylvania’s environmental issues; and
• Develop the skills needed to make informed decisions.
Grants have been 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 scope received general grants of up to $20,000; and a project, designed to engage students and teachers at the local, state and national levels, received a $65,710 grant. Over 90% of grant funds will support projects that engage youth and adults living or working in areas of environmental justice.
Projects awarded in northeast Pennsylvania by county:
Lack of Awanna
• Marywood University: Host an environmental stewardship camp for young people (ages 10-14) to raise awareness of topics such as climate change and watershed conservation, and introduce potential career opportunities on the subject of the environment. ($2,921)
• Lehigh County Conservation District: Incorporate the use of an outdoor living lab, 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 program involving a tour of the Askam Abandoned Mine Drainage Treatment System. ($13,879)
• Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School: Create pollinator and bird gardens to serve as outdoor learning sites. Offer tours, talks and workshops for students, teachers and the public. ($20,000)
• Monroe County Conservation District: Host several interactive educational field days for 10th graders and water resources 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): Organize several Leaf Pack network workshops on non-point source water pollution for educators, high school students and the public. ($2,562); and installing two native plant gardens and holding workshops on pollinators. ($2,908)
• Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation: Host a 2-day Lake School, providing hands-on education and training in lake water quality monitoring to members of private homeowners associations. ($19,983)
• Wyoming County Conservation District: Host two (2) field experiences for students (grades 4-6). Rotation stations will cover 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 to explore environmental issues and equips them with tools to create healthy communities through stewardship actions. Students and teachers interact at the county, state, and national levels. Analyze existing curriculum to determine ways to expand teacher and youth engagement in areas of environmental justice. ($65,710)
• Pennsylvania State University: Hosts a 20-hour environmental management program creating a total of 16 interns in Blair, Chester, Lackawanna, and Susquehanna counties. Participants will train an additional 80 people, lead workshops and implement group projects. ($19,525)