Vermont Business Magazine Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $300,000 in grants awarded to the New Haven Ecology Project, the University of Rhode Island, and the Vermont Energy Education Program as part of EPA’s Environmental Education Grant Program. These three New England grants were among 35 grants awarded nationally under the 2020 Environmental Education Grants Program.
“EPA is proud to continue its Environmental Education grants program with the announcement of our 2020 grant winners,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “These projects will create opportunities for students to gain knowledge and skills for future careers that will benefit the environment and create solutions to tackle the food waste problem and provide healthy food to their communities.”
New Haven Ecology Project – $100,000
The New Haven Ecology Project was awarded $100,000 to expand its Green Jobs Corp (GJC) career development program based in New Haven, Connecticut. Through the GJC program, the New Haven Ecology Project will connect 60 high-school students with paid stewardship placements within environmental organizations. These placements will create opportunities for students to build skills for future careers that will benefit the environment, particularly in the areas of community-based projects and agricultural education.
All participating students will complete a core curriculum that includes studying food and agriculture, air quality, impacts of fossil fuels on human health, environmental justice, lead in soils, consequences of extreme weather events, and environmental health. Many of the other stewardship projects that will arise from this project will include engaging elementary school students and community members in hands-on environmental education, extending the reach of environmental education to an additional 1,100 students and community members. Example topics of these stewardship projects may include growing food and planting school gardens as well as developing green infrastructure responses to stormwater management.
University of Rhode Island – $100,000
EPA’s grant of $100,000 to the University of Rhode Island (URI) enables the university to launch the Food Steward Program. Through the Food Steward Program, URI will create and implement a six-week long train-the-trainer program aimed at reducing food waste and increasing access to locally-grown food throughout the state. About 120 participants will complete coursework to become Food Systems Stewards and take part in 40-hours of internship programs, with community stewardship projects that will benefit an additional 2,500 youth and adults. The hands-on sessions in farms and in kitchens will help the Food System Stewards build skills in youth education, composting, sustainable food production, and food preservation. Project efforts will lead to the recovery of approximately 60,000 pounds of food waste and will direct roughly 40,000 pounds of locally grown produce to underserved populations throughout Rhode Island. The program’s course work and community stewardship projects will train participants to reduce food waste, provide healthy food to underserved populations, adopt conservation behaviors and foster community conservation around finding solutions for food waste.
Vermont Energy Education Program – $100,000
The Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) and the New Hampshire Energy Education Project (NHEEP) will train and support at least 50 teachers from at least 40 schools in Vermont and New Hampshire through their School-Based Community Action for Vermont and New Hampshire project with the assistance of EPA’s Environmental Education grant award of $100,000.
The opportunity to earn graduate credit from Castleton University will incentivize teacher participation as will access to VEEP and NHEEP curriculum resources, equipment kits, and individualized support. Educator training will focus on adding student-centered community-based environmental stewardship projects to their teaching toolkit. Participating teachers will also learn how to develop strategies that build students’ critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making. Once trained, teachers will deliver environmentally focused curriculum to approximately 1,000 students. In turn, students will implement community stewardship projects that support career development in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and environmental fields focusing on air quality improvement, land revitalization and contamination prevention. Further, VEEP and NHEEP will train an additional 200 middle and high school students to design and implement environmental action projects in their own communities.
Under the Environmental Education Grants Program, EPA seeks grant proposals from eligible applicants to support projects that reflect the intersection of environmental issues with agricultural best-practices, conservation of natural resources, food waste management, and natural disaster preparedness. Funded projects will increase public awareness of those topics and help participants to develop the skills needed to make informed decisions. Since 1992, EPA has distributed between $2 million and $3.5 million in grant funding per year, supporting more than 3,700 grants.
Summaries of each project, grant winners, and information on how to apply for future EE grant competitions: https://www.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants
Environmental Education at EPA: https://www.epa.gov/education