Wolf administration announces 2022 environmental education projects in southeastern Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that a total of $632,897 in environmental grants has been awarded to 63 projects, 50 of which engage youth and adults living and/or working in areas of environmental justice. Grants have been awarded to schools, institutions, conservation districts, and environmental and community organizations.

“These grants help lay the foundation for environmental education for people of all ages,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This year’s Earth Day theme is ‘Investing in Our Planet,’ and each of these projects represents an investment in advancing the environmental education of Pennsylvanians.”

“Whether through workshops or hands-on activities, environmental education can take many forms,” said Pat Patterson, DEP Southeast Regional Director. “With approximately one-third of the Commonwealth’s population living here in southeastern Pennsylvania, these investments in our students and communities will have lasting impacts for years to come.”

The Environmental Education Grant Scheme was created by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which requires setting aside five percent of pollution fines and penalties DEP collects each year for environmental education in Pennsylvania. Since its inception, DEP has awarded $12.3 million in environmental education grants to support 2,135 projects.

The 2022 program has selected applications for the development of innovative formal and non-formal education projects that:

  • Address grant program priorities related to water, climate change and/or environmental justice;
  • Provide opportunities to broaden the public’s understanding of Pennsylvania’s environmental issues; and
  • Develop the skills needed to make informed decisions.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded $632,897 in environmental education grants to support 63 projects focusing on environmental justice, climate change, and water quality.

Grants have been awarded to schools, institutions, conservation districts, and environmental and community organizations. Thirty-four local projects received mini-grants of up to $3,000; twenty-eight projects with a broad or statewide scope received general grants of up to $20,000; and a project, designed to engage students and teachers at the local, state and national levels, received a $65,710 grant. Over 90% of grant funds will support projects that involve youth and adults living and/or working in environmental justice areas.

Award-Winning Projects in Southeast Pennsylvania:

Projects awarded by county

County of Chester

  • The Land Conservancy for South Chester County: Expand the New Leaf Sensory Garden by installing two (2) new stations, with the help of summer interns. Organize field experiences in preschool and summer camps, including lessons and activities. ($3,000)

Montgomery County

  • Friends of Briar Bush: Delivering a two-part, hands-on watershed education program to approximately 180 fourth-grade students to help them relate watershed and stormwater management concepts to their school sites. ($2,357)

Philadelphia County

  • Awbury Arboretum Association, Inc.: Conduct native wildlife field studies and experiential lessons, including at least one STEM activity, for children in grades K-5. Teacher surveys will focus on the integration of topics into classroom instruction. ($3,000)
  • Solar Energy Association of Philadelphia: Develop a 6th grade curriculum addressing solar energy and climate change that includes lesson plans, teacher trainings, and interactive materials. ($18,739)
  • Villanova University: Host climate change workshops that engage high school students in hands-on STEM activities and field experiences to observe sustainability initiatives adopted by academic institutions. ($19,425)

Projects assigned to multiple counties

  • Discovery Pathways: Train up to 20 community leaders of young stewards from immigrant and refugee communities in South Philadelphia. The youth will lead programs, in Philadelphia and Bucks counties, and develop materials for non-English speaking families, encouraging them to access local parks and outdoor recreation areas. ($3,000)
  • Lower Merion Conservancy: developing a hands-on curriculum for students (grades 4-8) in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties that offers solutions to non-point source water pollution, excessive stormwater runoff, and environmental impacts environmental factors of climate change. Create environmental clubs and install small-scale, low-cost stormwater management green infrastructure on school properties and public lands. ($20,000)
  • Nurture Nature Center: Expand the Watershed-Friendly Property certification and education program, including handouts, outreach kits and promotional materials, to reach large urban properties/institutions. Pilot the program in York, Philadelphia and Delaware counties for future statewide implementation. ($20,000)
  • Pennsylvania Envirothon: Implement a statewide project that encourages high school students to explore environmental issues and equips them with tools to create healthy communities through stewardship actions. Students and teachers interact at the state, county and national level. Analyze existing curriculum to determine ways to expand teacher and youth engagement in areas of environmental justice. ($65,710)
  • Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (2 projects): Host seven (7) recorded climate change education sessions and three (3) celebrations at venues in Philadelphia. Programs will include listening sessions and hands-on experiences. ($20,000); and Hold seven (7) recorded climate change education sessions and three (3) celebrations at SW PA Urban Farms. Programs will include listening sessions and hands-on experiences. ($20,000)
  • Pennsylvania Resource Council: Hosted eight (8) workshops on watershed protection and stormwater management for residents of Delaware, Allegheny, Beaver, and Fayette counties. Participants will receive a “Watershed Wisdom” booklet and instructions for installing, using and maintaining the rain barrels. ($18,950)
  • Riverbend Environmental Education Center: Host a repeatable summer institute for teachers (grades 3-5) from Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties that promotes the MWEE framework and builds teacher capacity to support learning students in several disciplines. Hold monthly virtual meetings with participants to plan the implementation of the EE class. ($20,000)
  • Spirit and Truth Fellowship: Conduct a four (4) season series of workshops for residents of Philadelphia and Delaware counties that: Teach home energy efficiency strategies; expands student participation in the professional training program in solar installation; Increases awareness of the challenges of climate change; and Facilitates consensus building to implement climate solutions. ($14,741)
  • Stroud Water Research Center (two projects): creating innovative macroinvertebrate touch tanks to deliver programs for K-12 students, families and the public in Chester County ($3,000); and Implement a collaborative model to establish six (6) outdoor spaces in Chester and Lancaster Counties that support watershed education involving K-12 teachers and students and foster interactions community with schools. ($20,000)
  • Pennsylvania State University: Hosting a 5-day residential camp program for students (grades 9-12) from Center, Huntingdon, and Chester counties, focusing on local water quality issues , climate change and social/leadership experiences. ($5,500)
  • Pennsylvania State University: Hosts a 20-hour environmental stewardship program creating a total of 16 interns in Blair, Chester, Lackawanna, and Susquehanna counties. Participants will train an additional 80 people, lead workshops and implement group projects. ($19,525)

MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia Nurk, vnurk@pa.gov, 484-250-5808