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EPA Recognizes Groundwork Providence for Presidential Environmental Youth Award

Release Date: 05/03/04
Contact Information: Contact: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

For Immediate Release: May 3, 2004; Release # 04-05-01

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In a ceremony in Providence, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored the Groundwork Providence Environmental Education Team Program for their Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). The Providence program was one of only ten winners in the country and was recognized in a White House Ceremony on Earth Day this year.

“Groundwork Providence’s e-team program is making a big difference in Providence’s environment and in the lives of the students it works with,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “There’s no better investment than educating our children, who will be helping our common environment for years to come.”

The recognition comes a month after Groundwork Providence received a $150,000 EPA Brownfields Job Training grant that will be used to train 75 Pawtucket residents on environmental cleanup skills in lead and asbestos remediation.

The Presidential Youth Award Program is aimed at encouraging individuals, school classes, summer camps, youth organizations and public interest groups to promote environmental awareness and positive community involvement. Young people from around the country and U.S. territories are invited annually to participate in the PEYA program, which selects up to ten winning projects each year. The program was established by the White House in 1971 and has been administered by EPA since that time.

Groundwork Providence, a local affiliate of the national nonprofit community and environmental group Groundwork USA, focuses on helping high-school students to be stewards of their community by teaching neighbors about local environmental issues and serving as role models for younger children. Students participate in a program known as the Environmental Education Team or E-Team. Each year, this team, which is composed of Providence youth between the ages of 14 and 18, runs after-school environmental clubs (E-Clubs) and summer environmental education camps (E-Camps) for students in grades K-6. E-Team youth develop, organize, and implement environmentally based programs and curricula for the younger students. They also train middle school students who volunteer for the Environmental Service Institute, at which both high school and middle school students serve as mentors for elementary school children.

Team members attend regular training sessions and workshops and participate in field trips to learn about environmental issues affecting their community. For example, to learn about proper solid waste management, students explored the issues of brownfields, trash containment, recycling, and household hazardous waste. After their training, team members share their newly acquired knowledge with the E-Club, Environmental Service Institute and E-Camp participants by leading community service projects.

Some of these projects include cleaning up vacant lots, stenciling storm drains, and creating and playing environmentally themed games. Students are also committed to educating community members about recycling and proper trash containment by providing brochures, recycling bins, and trash cans with lids. Together, the E-Team members and the E-Club, Environmental Service Institute, and E-Camp participants produce a newsletter as a record of their achievements and as a community outreach tool.

Related Information:
Students to be Recognized for Innovative Environmental Projects (EPA HQ)