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EPA Region 4 Announces Award Recipients of 2003 Evnironmental Education Grants

Release Date: 01/28/2004
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421,
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 announced today that it has awarded 19 grants totaling approximately $200,000 as a result of the 2003 competition for environmental education grants.

EPA's environmental education grants, authorized by the National Environmental Education Act (NEEA) of 1990, are awarded to carry out environmental education projects. The winners were chosen from 75 proposals submitted by organizations and agencies in the eight southeastern states.

The EPA Environmental Education Grants Program is designed to stimulate the development of environmental education projects at the community level by local schools and environmental organizations, and to facilitate environmental education partnerships between governmental agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Projects are intended to motivate the public to be more environmentally conscious and make responsible and balanced decisions to protect the environment.


University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham Air Quality Study

The goal of this project is to enhance awareness, knowledge and skills needed to make decisions that affect environmental quality by working with middle and high school teachers and their students. Textbooks often lack specific examples of how the information being provided is of practical value. By moving away from a strictly textbook-based approach, participants will experience better performance on standardized tests, improved classroom management, increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning, and greater pride and ownership in accomplishments. The first step to achieving this goal was the adoption of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) curriculum in 2000 by the Birmingham City Schools. This project will provide teacher training workshops to give 30 Birmingham area middle and high school teachers the content information in the environmental sciences and hands-on training with classroom and field based modules. Teachers attending the workshops will be provided equipment and supplies for their classrooms. This will enable the teachers and their students to gather air quality and atmospheric data utilizing GLOBE curriculum protocols. $22,000.


The Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Mangrove Conservation Station - A Discovery Zone

This project will support Mangrove Conservation Station - A Discovery Zone, a partnership between the Naples Nature Center (NNC) and the Collier County Public School System. The exhibit will include a mangrove aquarium, an outline of the issues relating to restoration projects, immersive activities and an over-sized mangrove diorama. The goals are to increase awareness in the need to protect and sustain our natural environment, provoke learning in students, and give them the opportunity to explore environmental issues and careers. In addition to the permanent exhibit, the NCC will partner with the local school system to develop a traveling exhibit that will visit local elementary schools. This exhibit will be supported using existing curricula developed in cooperation with the school system. The curricula incorporates district, state and national academic standards. $5,000.

University of South Florida
The USF Enviro Van Plan

The purpose of the USF Enviro Van Plan is to actively engage Florida high school students and their teachers in environmental public health, by bringing a mobile environmental lab to their schools. The Enviro Van Plan will enable the students and teachers to utilize high tech, advanced laboratory equipment otherwise unavailable to them in a typical high school classroom. The goals of this project are: 1) Make science classes relevant and exciting by introducing students to "state-of-the-art" equipment; 2) Introduce students to critical environmental public health issues facing Floridians through interdisciplinary problem-solving curricula modules that will supplement the lab experience; 3) Show students how they can make a difference in environmental health issues by presenting a variety of career paths. The results and lessons learned during this project will be disseminated to other Florida teachers. $22,015.


Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Program Kits for teachers & Volunteers

Throughout the year, school and other organized groups request outdoor education programs provided by Mistletoe State Park staff. Most of these groups consist of approximately 40 children. The Mistletoe Park staff will develop programming kits as a unique teaching tool for teachers and volunteers to provide the opportunity for larger organized groups to participate in their Environmental Education programs. Each kit will contain a detailed lesson plan on an environmental topic, posters, activity sheets and hands-on materials that will provide a better understanding and respect for our environment. Orientation packets will introduce teachers, group leaders and volunteers to the opportunities the programming kits will create for larger groups. $2,185.

National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitats and Community Outreach - TAKE IT HOME

The mission of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is to educate, inspire and assist individuals and organizations of diverse cultures to conserve wildlife and other natural resources and to protect the Earth's environment. In today's society, children and adults in urban areas are increasingly removed from day-to-day contact with the natural world. This results in citizens lacking fundamental experience, skills and knowledge necessary to create environmentally sustainable communities. NWF's Schoolyard Habitats and Community Outreach - TAKE IT HOME project is a model initiative to magnify the power of NWF's existing programs and resources by combining and delivering them in innovative ways, using schools as gateways to increase community involvement. NWF has targeted twelve schools to participate in this project. Five of the schools will be in the under-served and culturally diverse public schools in the inner-city Atlanta area. For all schools, NWF will provide teachers with basic materials, guidance and follow-up support. In order to fully implement and test this model, NWF will work intensively with the students, teachers, school personnel and community supporters at the five inner-city public schools. The project's goal is to empower students and teachers to practice environmental stewardship as they come to understand that their health and well-being is directly linked to the conservation of water resources, wildlife, and habitat, beginning where they live. With an average of 27 students per teacher, this program will directly reach at least 600 students. $22,000.

Georgia Water and Pollution Control Association
"Water Works" - A Professional Science Educator's Two-Day Environmental Workshop

This project provides a two-day teacher workshop designed to provide information and practical "hands-on applications" for classroom use on the most important water quality and water resource issues facing Georgia today. Fifty professional secondary-level science educators from across Georgia will have the opportunity to learn water resource curricula during this training workshop. The workshop includes both plenary sessions, highlighting current local and statewide challenges in the water environment, and numerous break-out "hands-on" sessions. These sessions will utilize "The Water Source Book" curricula developed by the USEPA and other partners. $2,750.


Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom
Environment and Agriculture: Exploring the Issues

The project will establish a college course entitled Environment and Agriculture: Exploring the Issues as a model for other universities to address the food and fiber system as a component of environmental education. Specifically, this program will provide course work to help meet Kentucky's proposed environmental education endorsement. Initially, workshops will train 40 teachers who are seeking their Master's degree in elementary education from Murray State University in Murray, KY. The course will be a three-day workshop lasting from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon and will explore the connection between agriculture and the environment in our society. The program will consist of live presentations, field trips to an area farm and ethanol plant, and hands-on activities which can be applied directly in the classroom. $10,700.


Clinton Community Nature Center
Teacher Support and Outreach

The purpose of this project is to provide teachers with substantive assistance and technical training to facilitate and improve their use of the environmental education resources available at the Clinton Community Nature Center. The Center has two goals for this project. The first goal is to provide professional support for the teachers who visit with their classes, and the second goal is to include eighth and ninth grades in their network of nature labs and teacher support. "Buddy Kits" have been developed for distribution to teachers and students visiting the nature labs at the Center. An outreach program is being developed to contact teachers not currently familiar with the programs, and a conference is planned to introduce 30 new teachers to educational opportunities at the Center. A stipend will be paid to each teacher who attends to offset the cost of a substitute. $7,036.


Elizabeth City State University
Education in Lead Poison Prevention

Lead poisoning is one of the leading environmental health threats to children under the age of six. Through this project, parents and other participants will be educated on the issue of lead poisoning. The goal is to implement an Education and Awareness Project identifying and reducing the number of children exposed to lead poisoning. The project will be implemented through various education methods which include: (1) A series of seminars and community forums aimed at specific target groups; (2) A media campaign, including radio, television and newsprint; (3) The dissemination of lead hazard information via pamphlets, brochures, newsletters, bulletin boards, booths/displays, etc.; (4) The design of lead hazard reduction plans for local governments. As a result, these efforts will increase the knowledge-base for community residents regarding sources of lead poisoning and the safety measures to reduce and eliminate lead exposures. $5,000.

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation
Educators' Naturalist Weekend

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department's Division of Natural Resources has provided environmental education programs and initiatives for all ages within the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg area for ten years. The Educators' Naturalist Weekend will provide two days of hands-on workshops conducted at a Mecklenburg County nature center for teachers and non-formal educators. Participants will be given resource materials for use in their classroom. The training will enable teachers to incorporate the lessons and projects into their classrooms. Two different tracks will be offered; one will emphasize creating and utilizing an outdoor classroom, and the other will integrate environmental education with art and literature. Teacher renewal credits and North Carolina Environmental Education Certification credits will be offered. $4,376.

Environmental Education Fund
Earth/Environmental Science Institute

North Carolina's legislature mandated that all North Carolina high school students graduating in 2003 and beyond must complete a course in earth/environmental science, yet many science teachers in the state have minimal training in environmental science. Teachers who are teaching out of their field admit they have a difficult time. North Carolina is facing a tremendous teacher shortage and will need more than 12,000 new teachers a year during the next decade. A third of that number of new teachers will be lateral entry teachers. At the same time, the "No Child Left Behind" federal legislation requires lateral entry teachers to meet more stringent requirements and be able to teach students with varying learning styles. This project will expand the Environmental Education Fund's successful Summer Institute to reach educators who have struggled to offer a viable earth and environmental science program. These educators will be immersed in a week-long training session with subsequent mentoring sessions. The Environmental Education Fund has partnered with six other agencies including the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to develop a curriculum-based, technology-rich, outdoor environmental education experience that provides real-life opportunities for participants to practice critical thinking and problem solving skills while making informed science-based decisions as individuals and as teams. Based on evaluations and feedback during previous Institutes, the demand to expand this successful partnership initiative is greater than ever. $21,998.

North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
North Carolina Envirothon Program

The North Carolina Envirothon is run by an independent steering committee and operates under the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Envirothon is a high school and middle school hands-on environmental education competition, which involves most of the natural resource agencies within the state, environmental organizations, and private resource partners serving to educate students and teachers on natural resources and environmental issues. The natural resource components involved include soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife and current environmental issues. The goals of the program are: 1) Provide an environmental education opportunity to all high school and middle school students; 2) Provide the students an opportunity to learn about and to meet natural resource personnel; 3) To give teams and teachers a natural resource materials packet, which can be used in teaching environmental science for many years; 4) To get students interested in pursuing an environmental career when they attend college. The North Carolina Envirothon is expanding and hopes to add a significant number of schools over the next two years. Students who are involved learn to work together as a team and gain a broad knowledge and exposure to many environmental issues affecting our ecosystem. $5,000.


Clemson University
Locally-Focused and Issue-Oriented Youth Water Quality Education

This project will provide environmental education focused on local water resources in the form of summer day camps for 500 children, ages eight through fourteen, and instruction for 25 teachers who will educate 2,500 school children. The project will be on a location-specific environmental education program, 4H20 - Pontoon Classroom/River Adventure, and presented in formal (middle school classrooms) and non-formal (summer day camps) settings. The summer day camp experience will reinforce and enhance the school year lesson plans. The program will expand and reinforce the understanding of an aquatic environment. The instruction of in-service teachers will be presented as a Clemson University graduate course, South Carolina Water Environmental Education, for 25 middle school teachers and non-formal educators. Materials kits, regional workshops and the graduate course will provide the means for continuing this project beyond the term of the grant. All educational activities support the South Carolina Science Curriculum Standards. $22,076.

Wild Turkey Center
The Wild Turkey Woods Workshop

For the past several years, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has hosted a one-day workshop for educators emphasizing the importance land management plays in enhancing wildlife habitat. This project will feature a workshop on sustainable forestry principles, which describe the management of the forest to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The NWTF will teach educators land stewardship ethics, which integrate the growing, nurturing and harvesting of trees for useful products with the conservation of soil, air and water quality and wildlife habitat. $5,000.


Tennessee Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
Planting Ideas: Harvesting Success

This project will focus on educating public and private school teachers (pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade) methods of using environmental/agricultural education materials to address state-mandated academic objectives. Teachers will be trained beginning with one-day workshops held at ten locations around Tennessee. Workshops will be held in conjunction with the University of Tennessee and The Tennessee Board of Regents schools. Partnering with universities that are located near participants' schools allows for continued working relationships during the projects. Each school represented will be eligible for a matching garden mini-grant to establish a hands-on learning lab. The mini-grant requires the teachers form partnerships with their local Extension Service agents and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Participants' continued progress will be monitored using an online update of lessons used and reports of gains made by their students. $20,000.

Middle Tennessee State University
Backpack Biology

This project addresses habitat loss, and the loss translates to changed plant and wildlife populations and degradation of natural systems. Rutherford and surrounding counties in Tennessee have experienced an explosive population growth. In the 1990's, the National Park Service developed a greenway along the Stones River in Rutherford County. Since then, 20 miles of Greenway have opened for public use. It allows "city folk" to enjoy nature hikes, walking, bicycling, and wayside exhibits that interpret natural and Civil War history; thousands of individuals a year enjoy the greenway. Backpack Biology proposes to extend that enjoyment into education by developing educational backpacks on environmental topics for rent by educators and citizens when using the greenway. These backpacks will contain information focused on topics ranging from environmental awareness to the river ecosystem. An Environmental Education training program will be designed and implemented in cooperation with partners that will continue to enhance the project. $5,000.

Grainger County Board of Education
Grainger County Outdoor Science Classroom

This project proposes to develop an existing nature trail into an outdoor classroom. Instructors and their classes would plan, catalogue and label trees, test water quality, put up a weather station, clear trails, and create other activities to develop the classroom. Students will be able to participate in activities that involve problem-solving, hands-on learning experiences, group decision-making and service-based learning. Teachers will be introduced to this program through in-service programs, tours of the teacher center located at the Soil Conservation Office, workshops, interactive programs and field trips. This project will also be used with the after school and summer programs, and it is anticipated that it will improve students academic achievement and create an interest in science. $5,000.

Global Village Institute
Ecovillage Children's Kitchen

The Ecovillage Children's Kitchen is designed to immerse children of low-income families in the benefits of cultivating sustainable lifestyles. Underprivileged children are housed, fed and provided instruction in activities relating to the theme of creating and enjoying frugal lifestyles in harmony with nature. Children plan, plant, cultivate and harvest organic gardens, learn to prepare, cook and serve healthy food, and monitor their own energy and waste products. This is an expansion of an existing program. Newly designed instructional courses and multi-media hands-on projects will take place in the whole systems immersion experience of the Ecovillage Training Center. The program will provide enhanced pollution prevention training using interactive, multi-media exhibits, exploration of natural areas, exercises in composting and waste recycling, organic gardening, and demonstrations of water and energy conservation. $5,000.

Swan Conservation Trust
Rare Plant Protection on the Western Highland Rim of Tennessee

The mission of Swan Conservation Trust (SCT) is to "preserve and protect the watersheds and riparian forests of the Western Highland Rim of Tennessee." SCT has initially focused efforts in the watershed of Big Swan Creek and has been successful in protecting more than two thousand acres of riparian forest and uplands through ownership and cooperative management. Through this project, SCT plans to expand the educational component of its mission by teaching the public about the native plant communities of the area and threats to their existence. Through presentations, workshops and field trips, Swan Trust will principally educate landowners, business and civic organizations, and school groups. $5,000.