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8th Graders Are Learning and Earning at Environmental Camp

Release Date: 07/20/2009
Contact Information: Terri White 215-814-5523

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2009) - - For some it may be a best-kept secret. But ‘the more, the merrier’ is how Larry Brown regards a summer program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that pays students to learn. Now in its eighth year in the District of Columbia, EPA’s Student Environmental Development Program (SEDP) offers a unique opportunity for middle school students to learn life skills and ways to sustain the environment while earning money, too.

The 8th graders, who were recruited from more than a dozen schools in the DC metro area, report to work Monday through Friday at a location on the campus of George Washington University. Their schedules include classroom training and outdoor field trips for six weeks, culminating in a graduation ceremony.

“The SEDP program is a great alternative for students who can’t afford to go to camp for the summer or may not like traditional camps,” said Brown, the environmental education program manager at EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia, Pa. “By the time these students finish the program, they’ll be good public speakers, leaders in their schools, and informed environmental advocates.”

This occupation-like program challenges students to find innovative ways to educate their community on environmental health issues, such as the dangers of eating contaminated fish, protecting against childhood lead poisoning, asthma, radon hazards and other health concerns. By increasing awareness, the students can empower people in their community to take actions to solve local environmental problems.

When they aren’t sitting in the classroom, the students will be in the field doing hands-on lessons. On a recent visit to the Anacostia Watershed Society in Bladensburg, Md., they learned about the interconnections between wetlands, watersheds and estuaries. They’ll visit the State Department on July 23 as a lesson in civics.

More information on EPA’s summer environmental program