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EPA Provides Funding to Initiate Thirteen Environmental Education Projects throughout New York

Release Date: 03/11/2004
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(#04012) New York, New York -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced environmental education grants of $113,054 to fund thirteen projects throughout New York State. The projects cover a variety of issues, including green electricity service options, watershed planning, nonpoint source pollution, environmental stewardship and habitat restoration. Students will also gain insight into ways to pursue environmental careers.

"People of all ages can make changes that will affect the future of our environment," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. "Through environmental education, we can provide resources and skills needed to improve environmental quality for years to come."

The thirteen grants, ranging from $4,000 to $18,000, will reach a large segment of the population in New York including community gardeners, elementary and high school students, teachers and people who visit urban parks. In addition, students who have visual impairments will be able to learn about environmental stewardship, and students at several schools will study local environments and learn how to preserve and restore them.

The projects in New York receiving environmental education grants are:

Arm of the Sea
Thinking Like a Watershed

Thinking Like a Watershed is a participatory arts and ecology workshop for students age 11 to 16. The project is a partnership with three community-based organizations that will host summer camp programs for urban youths. This Arm of the Sea program will enhance students' understanding of their role in the environment. The introductory sessions are going to focus on watersheds and how they work, including the water cycle, ground water movement and nonpoint source pollution. Next, the students will sculpt and make masks that reflect community environmental concerns. They will then put on a pageant for other campers and the community. The pageant will be videotaped. The project will help students express what they have learned through the arts.

Beczak Environmental Education Center, Inc.

The Beczak Environmental Education Center brings children to the Hudson's riverbank to experience its beauty and to learn about the river's history, science and ecology. This after- school environmental club for middle school students teaches youngsters about their environment and deepens their understanding of environmental science and stewardship. The program targets students from neighborhoods in Yonkers with the lowest mean incomes. The 4th and 5th graders take part in interactive projects as they investigate both the river and their school environments. The students will produce a poster display and a school-wide environmental improvement plan to share what they have learned with others.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Growing Sustainable Gardens Phase II

Growing Sustainable Gardens Phase II is an initiative of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's (BBG) community horticulture program, "Brooklyn Greenbridge." In this project, BBG extends sustainable gardening from pilot community gardens in New York City's five boroughs into the surrounding underserved neighborhoods. These projects expand the use of native plants and facilitate partnerships between community gardens and community based organizations. In addition to developing the understanding and skills to improve their neighborhoods with sustainable gardens, the participants will develop leadership skills so that they can become more effective environmental stewards and leaders in their communities.

Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Inc.

The Catskill Center is training teachers in the Margaretville Central, Fallsburg Central and Onteora Central School Districts to implement the lessons and activities found in five modules of The Catskills: A Sense of Place. The modules are Water Resources, Geography and Geology, Human History, Culture and the Arts, and Ecosystems. They teach 4th through 12th grade students about the environmental and cultural assets of the Catskill region. The program promotes environmental stewardship. Training enables teachers to incorporate the module lessons into their classroom programing and correlate those lessons with New York State learning standards. In addition to workshops, the program provides ongoing support for educators. The program is designed to develop students' critical thinking skills as they learn about watershed concerns and how they impact their communities.

Friends of Crotona Park

This project is a public education campaign focusing on Indian Lake in Crotona Park in the Bronx. Students from the Phipps After-school Program will study and research lake water ecology, the microbiotic and macrobiotic biology of the lake and the New York City water supply system. Students will also develop a display based on their investigations for the Crotona Park Nature Center. Bronx Outreach High School students will study the New York City water supply system and develop a display for the nature center highlighting human activities and their impact on the watershed, Crotona Park and the lake. The displays and other outreach materials will be used by summer camp volunteers to educate park visitors about these important water issues.

Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District

The Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with the Catskill Middle School and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County to design and implement an interdisciplinary program focusing on Catskill Creek, which runs next to the school. The program involves forty teachers at the school. A core group and the partners will develop lesson plans by selecting appropriate existing environmental education resources and correlate them with New York state learning Standards. The lessons and activities selected will focus on riparian buffers (techniques for protecting damage to and/or pollution of creek banks), water quality and biodiversity. Teachers and students will design and plan a Creekside Celebration to share what they have learned with parents and community residents.

Guilderland Central Schools

The Pine Bush, an inland pine barren located near the Guilderland schools, has lost significant acreage as a result of development. More than 850 students in 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th grade will be raising native plants in their classrooms. The older students will mentor the younger students and work with their teachers to increase public knowledge and understanding of the Pine Bush preserve. They will establish native plant gardens in the community to help return native species to the ecosystem. Students will study and survey the ecosystem to determine the progress of habitat restoration. They will submit written reports to the Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Teacher Training for the Urban Estuary

This program provides thirty-five New York City teachers with the tools needed to teach their students about environmental issues in New York Harbor. The project includes a workshop to introduce teachers to the Hudson River's cultural and natural history and people's impact on the river's ecosystems. The teachers will explore ways to apply what they have learned to academic programs in their classrooms. A workshop will follow a sail on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. At a follow-up meeting with each teacher, Clearwater staff will assist in customizing studies of the Hudson River for each class. They ensure the studies will correlate with New York State learning standards and help students improve their neighborhood environment.

Old First Ward Community Association Inc.
Community Environmental Education Demonstration Project

The Community Environmental Education Demonstration Project will educate the children and youth in the traditionally underserved areas of the Old First Ward community about ecological problems in their neighborhood. The Old First Ward Community Center is conducting workshops that include field trips to the nearby Tifft Nature Reserve, local greenhouses, tours of grain elevators and industrial polluted sites along the Buffalo River. The workshops will focus on community garden projects. Participants will explore various environmental practices to improve their quality of life and reduce their own contributions to contamination of the river.

Pace University
Law School/Energy Project

The Pace Energy Project will use the Power Scorecard to provide easy-to-understand information on the electrical power industry that will encourage people to choose safer, more environmentally-sound forms of electricity. The Power Scorecard is a Web-accessible educational tool that local organizations can access. Pace will hold workshops to enable organizations to teach the public how to use the Power Scorecard. This program will provide the general public information on their electricity options, such as clean, green electricity service. The objectives are to have New York-specific Web pages on the Power Scorecard, to train members of appropriate organizations and construct a manual of existing information to assist consumers. The project will provide all of this information without recommending any particular energy product.

South Street Seaport Museum
Marine Science for Visual Impairments Blindness

This project teaches visually impaired or blind students in New York City about marine ecology and science. Students will attend workshops aboard the Museum's educational vessels, the Pioneer and the Wavetree, to learn how people and pollution affect ecosystems. The 6th to 8th graders will develop an understanding of marine ecosystems and a sense of stewardship. They will learn problem-solving skills, analyze environmental information, study the factors involved in population growth and become better able to draw conclusions from data. The goal is to help them become more active members of their communities.

Teatown Lake Reservation Inc.
Teatown Lake Reservation Water Quality Education Program

Teatown's Water Quality Education Program will teach public middle and high school students in Westchester and Putnam Counties about water quality issues in their local streams. Their teachers will collect and analyze water quality data and identify troubled areas. The program will focus on the Croton Watershed, which provides part of New York City's water supply. Students and teachers will visit watershed streams to gather data and assess the water quality information. As students learn about the watershed, they will discover their roles as environmental stewards. The students will also hold a student conference and publish their data on water quality information.

Wildlife Conservation Society
Project CREEK

Project CREEK, Creek Restoration, Exploration & Education in Kings County, Brooklyn, is a partnership between the New York Aquarium and John Dewey High School. CREEK will teach students about environmental careers, environmental science concepts, marine science, tidal wetland ecology and wildlife conservation. Students will study endangered species and local habitat loss in Brooklyn. They will study the environmental issues related to Coney Island Creek. The program is geared toward a very large, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse school population. Wildlife Conservation scientists and animal specialists will teach students about marine habitats, animal adaptations, animal classification and behavior, microbiology and introduce them to a wide range of environmental career possibilities. In addition, students will compare a healthy salt marsh and a degraded one in order to plan improvements to Coney Island Creek. Students will attend a six-hour habitat restoration workshop.