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EPA awards $190,000 for environmental education projects in the Pacific Southwest

Release Date: 10/16/2003
Contact Information: Leo Kay, (415) 947-4306

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has awarded $190,000 to 20 organizations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands to support environmental education projects.

The grants, which range from $3,455 to $18,595, support efforts that include watershed protection, pesticide reduction and pollution prevention. Recipients of the grants include schools, universities, non-profit organizations, and city, county and state agencies.

"These grants represent our smartest investment in the future," said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA's Pacific Southwest Office. "We should all support efforts to educate students and communities about environmental issues that affect our lives. Each of us plays a role in protecting the environment to ensure that future generations inherit a cleaner world."

The grants, awarded under the National Environmental Education Act, provide funding to support projects that address significant environmental issues. The organizations contribute matching funds. For more information on the EPA's environmental education programs, visit

Following is complete list of the grants announced:
(Note to editors: A contact for grant recipient is also listed)


University of Arizona - $17,834

The University of Arizona's ECOSTART Program works in southeastern Arizona's San Pedro River watershed to improve local students' understanding of ecological processes in the riparian habitat and educate students about the need to protect that habitat by conserving water supplies. In desert environments, riparian corridors like the San Pedro's function as crucial wildlife migration corridors and "hotspots" of biodiversity, hosting native plant, fish, bird, and mammal species that cannot survive in the hotter, drier surrounding desert.

ECOSTART will link the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson Audubon Society, and other resources to prepare local elementary school teachers for using the ECOSTART curriculum, support their classroom teaching, and help organize field trips to the San Pedro's riparian areas. The teacher workshops and student/teacher field trips will enhance students' geographic sense of place through a better understanding of local ecosystems and natural resources. Contact: Anne Browning-Aiken, (520) 884-4393.

Proyecto Corredor Colibri - $5,013

Proyecto Corredor Colibri, with fiscal sponsorship by the Tucson Audubon Society, is implementing RIOS (Rivers Integrating Our Schools), an international environmental education project that links students on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border through the shared resource of the San Pedro River. Proyecto Corredor Colibri is a binational collaborative project that works with communities in the Mexican portion of the Upper San Pedro Watershed on natural and cultural resource conservation.

This first-year pilot program will involve 4th to 7th grade students in three schools on the U.S. side of the border and one school on the Mexican side, plus 12th grade students in one U.S. high school, for a total of about 100 students. The program will involve classroom presentations and field trips to various locations along the river's riparian corridor on both sides of the international border. The students will learn about local and international environmental issues involving the river, which provides a key fish and wildlife habitat in this arid region. Contact: Jennie Duberstein, (520) 882-0837.


Sierra Foothills and Northern California

Chico Unified School District - $10,000

Kids in Creeks: Education, Restoration, Ecology and Action is a highly successful existing project that each year involves approximately 400 2nd to 12th grade students raising salmon from eggs in the classroom, and taking field trips focusing on riparian restoration and creek ecology. The objective of this grant is to support participating teachers by providing in-service training workshops, materials, mentors, and field trips they can work into their curricula. The grant will help at least 200 additional community members participate in the project, including college students, parents, teachers' aides, and volunteers. A wide range of 2nd to 12th grade students will be involved in year-round activities. "At-risk" youth work with teachers in economically and culturally diverse communities. College students recruited for the program benefit from career development, experience, and training in environmental education. Contact: Roxanne Baxter, (530) 345-5265.

Placer Land Trust and Nature Center - $4,580

The Center's Learning from the Land program provides an interdisciplinary one-day field study for 6th-grade students at the Traylor Ranch Nature Reserve and Bird Sanctuary. The program addresses the history of local land use as well as stream and grassland ecology, and includes participation in environmental restoration projects on-site. Pre-visit packets, program materials, and activities emphasize links between cultural and natural history. The program will target youth that do not have the opportunity during the school year to attend outdoor education camps. After the first year the program will expand to include 5th through 8th grade students. Contact: Linda Desai, (530) 878-6053.

The South Yuba River Citizens League - $5,000

The League's RiverTeachers Science Docent Project provides training for volunteers to deliver fun, interactive lessons in 1st to 6th grade classes on the Yuba River, its water quality and salmon habitat. The classroom presentations deepen students' knowledge of their surroundings, foster their connection with the Yuba River watershed, and inspire responsibility for the health of the watershed and its salmon population. The program focuses on providing opportunities for students to learn about salmon as an indicator species; which in turn teaches about habitat, healthy ecosystems, and interdependence between species. Students also explore the concept of a watershed and its relationship to water quality. Grant funds will train community members, who will work in partnership with schools and present the curriculum. Contact: Carlyle Holmes, (530) 265-5961, x204.

Mattole Restoration Council - $5,000

The Mattole Ecological Education Program will provide ecological restoration career development activities for students in the rural Mattole River watershed on California's North Coast. Activities include 25 in-class visits and five field trips involving six Mattole watershed public schools, as well as hosting the annual Watershed Week event, in which all the schools participate. The classroom visits and field trips educate students about local and regional watershed restoration efforts, while giving students the opportunity to meet people at work on these efforts in the field, as they pursue careers involving fisheries enhancement, sustainable forestry, fire management, road removal or upgrading, water quality monitoring, and erosion control. The goal is to educate students about the ongoing work of ecological restoration in their home watershed, and inspire them to pursue careers in this field. Contact: Chris Larson, (707) 629-3514.

Central Coast

Ecological Farming Association - $10,750

The Ecological Farming Association will plan and conduct a Strawberry Conference Series and Farm Tour for California's south central coast growers, focusing on production without methyl bromide (a highly toxic, stratospheric ozone-depleting soil fumigant that is due to be phased out over the next few years). The project, which includes several partners and advisory organizations, involves specific outreach to under-served Spanish-speaking and low-income growers. The conference series aims to help farmers evaluate different production methods using economic and environmental criteria. The goal is to help growers adopt practices that meet economic and management needs while reducing the harmful environmental and public health impacts of methyl bromide. Successful efforts in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties will be complemented this year by new outreach in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Contact: Kristin Rosenow, (831) 763-2111.

Santa Barbara Zoological Foundation - $5,453

The Foundation's Zoo Explorers Program encourages teens in grades 9-12 to pursue environmental careers by providing them opportunities to meet directly with professionals involved in various aspects of conservation. In addition to attending lectures and multi-media presentations, the teens will take field trips (to the Channel Islands National Park, for example) and will interact with zoo staff. Throughout the program, participating teens plan and carry out a conservation project for their home, school or community. Three teens that display the best use of critical thinking and problem solving will receive Youth Conservation Scholarships for college. While all teens are welcome, a special emphasis will be placed on recruiting teens from the Latino community, which has been traditionally under-represented in environmental careers. Contact: Rich Block, (805) 962-5339 x14.

Los Angeles Basin

TreePeople - $10,000

This grant will enable TreePeople to expand the California Regional Environmental Education Community Network for Los Angeles County (CREEC-LA). Through this clearinghouse program, 8,000 teachers and other educators throughout this densely populated county gain quick access to a wide range of quality environmental education resource providers to support their classrooms. These providers include non-profits, public agencies and businesses that provide 250 pre-screened environmental education programs currently listed in the CREEC-LA database.

With this grant, CREEC-LA will double the number of resources in the database and conduct six leadership workshops for teachers to enhance the effectiveness of these resources in the classroom. CREEC-LA will also market the programs to schools and provide one-on-one support to teachers upon request.

TreePeople, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, works with Los Angeles County residents to take personal responsibility for their urban forest, educating, training, and supporting community residents who plant and care for trees. Sustained by a staff of 50 educators, foresters, and administrators, TreePeople runs award-winning environmental education programs reaching 100,000 K-12 students throughout the county. For the CREEC-LA project, TreePeople has partnered with the California Department of Education's Office of Environmental Education. Contact: Cherylin Leong, (818) 623-4876.

San Francisco Bay Area

Save San Francisco Bay Association - $10,000

The Canoes in Sloughs Watershed Education and Community-Based Restoration Programs for South Bay Students program will conduct a combination of classroom lessons and on-the-water field work to teach high school and middle school students about the need for restoration of water quality and wetland habitat to improve the health of the San Francisco Estuary ecosystem. These activities, including hands-on wetland restoration work, are designed to build understanding of the value of the bay and its ecosystem in the next generation of Bay Area adults. Canoe trips on the Bay's winding tidal sloughs build connections between the students, their natural environment, their studies, and one another as they work in teams to steer a canoe, test water quality, identify local species, and restore local wetlands. Professional development for teachers is offered through workshops and summer institutes.

Since 1996, the Association's "Canoes in Sloughs" program has been instrumental in giving thousands of Bay Area students direct experience of the region's biggest, but often-ignored, natural habitat: the bay and its surrounding wetlands. The grant supports expansion of the program in the South Bay. Contact: Jason Morris, (510) 452-9261.

California Academy of Sciences - $5,000

The California Academy of Sciences' "Wild City!" teaches 4th & 5th grade public school students in San Francisco about the value of California's biodiversity, the challenges facing biodiversity, and how they can personally contribute to preserve ecosystems and their unique assemblages of plant, bird, fish, and wildlife species. The program involves four classroom visits, a field trip to the Academy (Northern California's largest natural science and research museum) and a field trip to a wetland or oak woodland. This grant supports supplies and staff.

The program provides participating teachers with Educator Resource Material Kits, which include a variety of books, other media and program journals that the students complete. This year, "Wild City!" will reach approximately 700 students in communities where residents are traditionally under-represented in the sciences. Planned activities are designed to utilize the city's parks and schools as laboratories of exploration through discussions of species diversity, hands-on cleanup or native plant restoration projects, and a species inventory of the students' own school grounds. Now in its fourth year, "Wild City!" establishes a connection and potential ongoing relationship between the students and the Academy's extensive resources. Contact: Pat Kilduff, (415) 750-7392.

San Diego and U.S.-Mexico Border

American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties - $18,595

The Kids for Clean Air program will educate 20 classes representing about 600 4th and 5th grade students from low-income, high-asthma neighborhoods in San Diego County about the causes and effects of air pollution and how individuals can take action to make the air cleaner. The first day of the two-day program involves classroom presentations and discussion on how the human respiratory system works, what causes air pollution, how pollution damages the lungs, and how to protect one's health on smoggy days. The second day is centered around the Lung Express, a 40-foot natural-gas-powered bus with interactive lung and environmental health exhibits developed by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The San Diego County Office of Education is a key partner in this project. Contact: Ross Porter or Kathy Sullivan, (619) 297-3901.

California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) - $4,916

The California Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a one-day seminar for 150 primary school teachers in Tijuana, Baja California, on how to use an environmental education curriculum on natural resources, water pollution and conservation, pollution prevention, recycling and solid waste management, energy conservation, and air pollution. The aim of the curriculum is to educate students about how to prevent and reduce pollution in the border environment. All materials necessary will be provided, as well as promotional materials to advertise the event.

The experience gained here has the potential to be utilized across the entire U.S.-Mexico border region. In this project, Cal/EPA's Border Environmental Program has partnered with the Baja California Secretariat of Education. Contact: Chris Marxen, (916) 445-9478.

Friends of Famosa Slough - $5,000

Friends of Famosa Slough will purchase and/or build a rolling wetland lab with interactive wetland assessment tools to expand educational opportunities at San Diego's Famosa Slough, a 30-acre restored natural wetland. The wetland includes four urban runoff treatment ponds. The rolling labs will provide schools and other groups a pre-planned interactive field trip in the slough, emphasizing better understanding of watersheds, water quality, plant and animal communities, and the importance of preserving and improving wetland and coastal water quality. Design of the lab's exhibits and activities will involve local experts in wetlands education, interpretive signage, wetland assessment, environmental education, and landscape design. Contact: Tershia d'Elgin, (619) 239-6120.


Environmental Leadership - $18,318

The Leaders of Waste Reduction project will provide workshops and classroom presentations on waste and recycling for over 900 students, grades 3-10, in northern Nevada; maintain and expand Web resources on waste reduction (at the project's Web site,; train 11th and 12th grade and college-aged youth to teach the LOWR curriculum; and print 500 color posters to educate the public on what can be recycled in Washoe County. The aim is to influence the students' purchasing and disposal choices, and encourage them to contribute to community efforts to help meet the state's legislatively-mandated 25% waste reduction goal. To date, 2,900 students from 39 Washoe County (Reno area) schools have participated. Contact: Sonya Hem, (775) 323-3433.

University of Nevada, Reno - $12,704

The Lake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, a partnership of 24 agencies, schools and research organizations led by the the cooperative extensions of the University of Nevada and University of California, is leading an effort to educate large numbers of citizens about the problem of declining water quality in Lake Tahoe. This grant will support science-based outreach via a variety of media, including weekly TV broadcasts, newspaper articles and information on various Web sites. Local news segments will be produced to raise awareness of different aspects of the problem, including basic watershed hydrogeology, water quality parameters, sources of pollution, and how citizens can adopt best management practices and conduct their own study of water quality. Efforts will be made to educate the community to reduce nonpoint source pollution by eliminating those activities that lead to soil erosion, sedimentation and nutrient pollution in the basin. Contact: Heather Segale, (775) 832-4138.

Nevada Department of Wildlife - $10,000

The Department of Wildlife will provide the Service-Learning Environmental Conservation Education program , which will reach 10,000 students, teachers, parents, outdoor clubs, community members, and tourists annually. The $10,000 grant will bring the program to elementary schools throughout Western Nevada, providing instruction on the environmental science of aquatic life, the value of water resources, and the application of classroom learning in field activities. Students will raise rainbow trout eggs in the classroom, study the fish and its habitat, and finally release the trout into the wild in appropriate monitored locations. These activities will teach students to critically think about their role as stewards of the trout fishery, and help them make responsible decisions in this role. Contact: Adrienne Forbes, (775) 334-3808.

North Tahoe Middle School - $3,455

The Community Water Watch is a multi-disciplinary effort which connects students in California and Nevada on a common issue: water quality. Over the course of a school year, students in grade 8 in Tahoe City, Calif., and grades 9-12 in Las Vegas, Nev., and one instructor from each school, will collaborate on project, in which they sample and chemically analyze lake waters from each state, share results via monthly Web conferences, and publish their results in a joint newsletter and in a project Web site they create. The students and instructors will work with partner agencies -- Lake Tahoe Planning Agency, Lake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, UC Davis, Sierra Nevada College, and others -- to study environmental science through web conferences, guest speakers, field studies, and field trips. Students will share findings with local environmental scientists and with other schools, through the newsletter and Web site. Contact: Jennifer Murphy, (530) 581-7070 x4363 in Tahoe area; Don Curry, (702) 799-5790 in Las Vegas.


The University of Hawaii - $19,480

"Bioremediation for the Community: An Environmental Education Project for K-12 Teachers and Students and Community Members of the Ala Wai Canal Watershed" involves educating students and community members about local environmental issues. The project will teach K-12 students and teachers about local environmental issues using the Malama I Ka Aina curriculum; hold workshops to teach community members about new environmental technologies, including bioremediation, and help the community to use these ideas in addressing issues involving the Ala Wai Canal watershed; and establish a hands-on, problem-based bioremediation demonstration project involving students, teachers and the community. Contact: Tracy Sylva, (808) 956-8863.


The University of Guam - $8,900

This project will establish the Micronesia Regional Environmental Outreach Network (MREEN) to serve as a link between environmental educators and outreach practitioners in the Western Pacific. This $8,900 grant will fund the setup of the MREEN electronic archive of environmental education materials developed in and for the Pacific; development of the MREEN Web site; establishment of the MREEN listserv; and a one-day workshop on designing effective environmental outreach campaigns for Pacific Islands. Twenty-five to 30 different agencies and organizations comprised of more than 100 educators and outreach specialists will participate in the network, representing the diverse ethnic communities found in Micronesia. Contact: Grace Garces, (671) 687-6855.