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EPA Selects Zender Environmental Health and Research Group for $200,000 Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant

Brownfields Training Program Provides Local Jobs for Communities in Alaska

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Judy Smith (

Seattle, WA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of Zender Environmental Health and Research Group for a $200,000 Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant. The grant is one of 14 that will be awarded nationally.

“Brownfields job training programs are a win-win for communities impacted by hazardous waste sites,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These job training programs can touch and change lives by providing valuable and marketable skills that also help protect our environment.”

The funds will support the Rural Alaska Community Environmental Job Training program, a program that trains and helps place graduates in local environmental jobs and is targeted to unemployed and underemployed residents of remote Alaska Native Villages impacted by environmental health issues. 

“This award will mean that we will be able to help 18 villages have a trained environmental technician who will know how to reduce environmental health risks and can safely operate their landfills, respond to emergencies, and cleanup spills,” said Dr. Lynn Zender, Executive Director of Zender Environmental Health and Research Group “For the unemployed residents that we train, making it through our program and landing a job is priceless. It can mean the difference for their families in enough heat for the winter, fuel for hunting, or the water staying on.”

Zender Environmental Health and Research Group has a proven record of placing program graduates in local environmental jobs. Most recently, in April 2017, seventeen students graduated from the job training program at a ceremony in Anchorage.

Program graduates can earn college credits through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and up to 15 state or federal certifications including HAZWOPER, OSHA 10 Construction Safety, Confined Space Entry, Forklift Operations, and Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead, National Incident Command System, DOT Hazmat, and CPR/First Aid.

In addition to receiving EPA grant funding and technical assistance, Zender Environmental Health and Research Group works in partnership with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Bristol Bay Native Association, Municipality of Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Native Village of Port Heiden, Native Village of Hooper Bay and Native Village of Brevig Mission. 

In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed to help revitalize these properties.  Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants and job training grants.  Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant funds are provided to nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities to recruit, train and place residents from impacted communities.  To date, EPA has funded 274 job training grants totaling over $57 million through the EWDJT program.  As of May 2017, more than 16,300 individuals have completed training, and of those, almost 12,000 have obtained employment in environmental jobs.

EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, communities and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, and safely clean up and sustainably reuse brownfields.  A brownfield site is real property, where reuse may be complicated by the presence of contaminants. 

For more information on EWDJT grantees, including past EWDJT grantees, please visit:

For more information on EPA’s EWDJT program, please visit:

More information on the Rural Alaska Community Environmental Job Training Program: