Bert Myers, Director, Environmental Education and Information Center
Happy Earth Day, educators! And happy 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment! While of course every day is Earth Day for you and for us at DEP, we’re delighted to take a moment to celebrate by announcing the 2021 Environmental Education Grant awards to 51 groups around the state. Here’s to the good work all Pennsylvania’s environmental educators do to protect and restore the planet and our special part of it.
Bert Myers, Director, Environmental Education and Information Center, DEP

First Lady Frances Wolf and friends share stories and learning activities for young Pennsylvanians in Earth Day virtual event 

First Lady Frances Wolf hosted a one-hour virtual program for middle and high school students to celebrate Earth Day and the 50th anniversary of the Environmental Rights Amendment.
Visit Protect the Environment for all Pennsylvanians for content on dozens of topics related to Pennsylvania’s environment: DEP’s mission under the Environmental Rights Amendment, gardening and food waste, our state forests and parks, botany diary mapping with ISpy, bluebird habitat and how to build a nest box, peregrine falcons, and many others. The content is designed for students but may be enjoyed by learners of all ages.
DEP joined the state Departments of Education, Conservation and Natural Resources, Agriculture, and General Services, as well as the Game Commission and many other partners in this informative and fun event.
In addition, First Lady Wolf and Governor’s Residence Executive Chef Barry Crumlich announced a new partnership between the Residence and Learning, Education, and Farming (LEAF) that uses produce from the Residence vegetable garden to assist LEAF’s community feeding program. LEAF is a youth organization whose mission is to cultivate youth leaders from diverse backgrounds through meaningful work in the food system.

Environmental Education Grants go to 51 projects statewide

In celebration of Earth Day, Governor Tom Wolf and DEP announced 2021 Environmental Education Grants totaling nearly $460,000 to 51 projects statewide addressing Environmental Justice, climate change, and water quality.
Over 85 percent of funds will support projects that engage youth and adults living and/or working within Environmental Justice areas. Twenty-seven Environmental Justice projects will be led by non-profit organizations, and 10 will be led by schools and colleges.
Congratulations to all grant recipients!

2022 Environmental Education Grants: Begin now to prepare your project proposal!

The Environmental Education Grants Program will begin taking applications for 2022 grants in mid-September, with an application deadline of mid-December 2021.
Please keep in mind that it takes time to develop a strong, meaningful grant proposal. We encourage you to begin talking with your partners, drafting your project ideas, and identifying your budget needs.
Please feel free to reach out to us at RA-epEEgrants@pa.gov. We’re happy to answer your questions as you develop your project ideas.  

Thinking big about energy efficiency at your school? Apply for a Green Energy Loan 

DEP has revamped the Green Energy Loan Fund (GELF) to make it easier for property owners to get low-interest loans for large-scale, high-impact energy efficiency projects. Projects must result in a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption.
School districts, colleges, and other organizations are eligible to apply for GELF loans. Approximately $1.8 million is currently available. Find instructions and an application at Green Energy Loan Fund.
Schools that have completed GELF projects include Esperanza College, Drexel University, the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, and the Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Arts.
GELF prioritizes local community development and seeks to support projects in Environmental Justice areas. (Use the DEP Environmental Justice Area Viewer to see if your school is in an EJ area.) Nearly 30 percent of GELF projects have involved buildings owned or controlled by persons of color or with low income, and more than half have been located in low-income census tracts.

Growing Greener and Section 319 grant programs have $22.5 million available for water quality improvement projects:

Apply now

DEP celebrated Earth Day and the 50th anniversary of the state Environmental Rights Amendment today by announcing the availability of $22.5 million to schools, local governments, and nonprofit organizations for projects to improve water quality in their communities or watersheds or statewide. Funding comes from the Growing Greener Plus and federal fiscal year 2022 Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management grant programs.
These grant programs support projects to reduce water pollution that comes not from one specific discharge point, such as a pipe, but from more than one source. This includes:
  • nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution from agricultural and urban activities, and
  • iron, aluminum, and acidity pollution from energy resource extraction and acid mine drainage.
Approximately $18 million is available in Growing Greener Plus grant funding. Approximately $4.5 million is available in Section 319 grants.
Growing Greener funds projects that are local, watershed, or statewide in scale, for example, a single streambank fencing project on a farm or a large-scale floodplain restoration. The Section 319 program funds projects specified in watershed implementation plans for 37 impaired watersheds around the state. They also support development of new watershed implementation plans for other impaired watersheds. 

Three Pennsylvania schools earn U.S. Department of Education 2021 Green Ribbon School Awards

The U.S. Department of Education today announced that 40 educational institutions nationwide have been recognized as 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. 
Congratulations to three Pennsylvania schools on being honored as Green Ribbon Schools:
  • Hance Elementary School (Pine Richland School District)
  • Commonwealth Charter Academy (Harrisburg Campus)
  • Lehigh University
Central Cambria School District received a state finalist designation through the PA Pathways to Green Schools program that guides aspiring Pennsylvania schools to US Department of Education Green Ribbon Award status.
Schools are honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 40 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars can be found here.  

Learn about Pennsylvania’s changing climate and impacts, and take action

DEP has a growing set of materials available to everyone looking for information on climate change specific to Pennsylvania and what state government is doing to protect quality of life and livelihoods for Pennsylvanians. Several reports also recommend actions that communities, businesses, farmers, and residents can take. Here’s an overview of 10 useful resources to get started. In addition, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell talks about a number of these efforts in his recent 45-minute webinar, State Government Climate Actions.
The proliferation of non-native invasive plants, animals, fish, and insects in Pennsylvania is one of the unfolding changes related to our warming climate. Partner organizations on the Governor’s Invasive Species Council are doing an array of research, programmatic, and educational projects on a variety of invasive species. Check out the Pennsylvania Invasive Species Projects storymap to learn about their work and find ideas and resources for your educational planning.

Develop litter prevention leaders: Participate in “Pick Up Pennsylvania”

Looking for a community-oriented, impactful activity to include in your education on plastics pollution?  Organize a local litter cleanup event in your community as part of the annual Pick Up Pennsylvania campaign, March 1-May 31.
Schools and youth groups, community and civic organizations, families and friends, business employees, sporting clubs, conservation organizations, sport teams, and others are participating. Join in!
Getting started is easy. Simply organize a local litter cleanup event and register it with PUP or join a PUP event already organized by another member of your community. All registered events can get free cleanup supplies, including gloves, trash bags, and safety vests donated by DEP, PennDOT, and Keep America Beautiful. Registered events also have access to free or reduced-cost disposal through April 30, sponsored by DEP, the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association, and participating landfills.
A free video about Pick Up Pennsylvania is available in English (stream or download) and Spanish (stream or download).
You might also consider organizing a recycling event for hard-to-dispose-of items, such as tires and appliances; creating green areas by planting trees, shrubs, and flowers; and removing or painting over graffiti that devalues your neighborhood. Interested in creating a stream or river cleanup project? Bay Backpack Stream or River-clean-up-event is a great resource.

State and local partners made record progress in second year of Chesapeake Bay Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan

A riparian buffer growing by a stream on a Pennsylvania farm
State and local partners made record progress in 2019-2020 on the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan (Phase 3 WIP) to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and improve local waters in Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Environmental educators can support the Phase 3 WIP, and its Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities approach, through implementation of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE) action projects. Fostering a healthy watershed benefits all aspects of Pennsylvanians’ lives, from providing safe drinking water to protecting soil quality for better crop yield, reducing flooding, and providing outdoor recreation enjoyment and employment.
MWEE student-directed action projects can take a variety of forms. Students may focus on restoration or protection, civic or community engagement, how everyday choices affect water quality, outdoor play and learning, and/or healthy schools. Action Projects - Bay Backpack can help you and your students formulate ideas and implement a project.  
On September 9, 2020, the State Board of Education voted to adopt, as a proposed regulation (Chapter 4), three sets of revised Science standards. During the revision process, the 2002 Environment & Ecology Standards were overhauled and integrated into the Science Standards.
The adoption of standards involves several levels of review. They have moved to the Attorney General’s office, which has 30 days to review, with the option of extending that time. The next step will be a 30-day public comment period. During the public comment phase, the environmental education community can provide critical input to the revised standards. To receive notification when public comment period is open, send an email to: ra-stateboardofed@pa.gov.
Following the public comment period, legislative review, and review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the State Board of Education will determine if any further revisions are necessary and meet to consider revised standards as a final regulation.
Questions? Please e-mail ScienceStandards@pattan.net.  
The past three months have been a period of remarkable change at the peregrine falcon nesting site on the 15th floor ledge of the Rachel Carson State Office Building (RCSOB) in Harrisburg.
While the longtime resident female, banded 48/AE, once again claimed the nest, the 18-year-old longtime resident male, banded W/V, was displaced by a 4-year-old challenger, banded 85/AK. In the course of multiple territorial chases, W/V collided with a building and perished. The same day the first egg appeared in the nest.
W/V lived to quite a ripe old age for a wild peregrine and had fans around the world. He bred for 16 years, siring 54 falcons. In honor of his amazing legacy, the Environmental Education and Information Center will develop an educational exhibit that will feature W/V’s mount and photos.
There are now four eggs in the nest at RCSOB, and they could hatch any day now! Learn more and follow the Harrisburg falcons at dep.pa.gov/falcons.
An osprey in flight
WILD About Raptors Virtual Workshop Series
Dates: Wednesdays in May - June 2021: All sessions are 4:00-5:00 pm
Fee: Free
Act 48: Up to 11 hours, based on participation
Registration: Registration is required for each session. Register here.
Designed for both formal and non-formal educators, this free workshop series is a collaborative effort of the Penn State Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, DEP, the Game Commission, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and the Northeast Motus Collaboration. This professional development opportunity will consist of six sessions. Participants are welcome to attend any or all sessions. 
Wednesday, May 5: The Peregrine Falcon in Pennsylvania
Presented by DEP
Bert Myers, Director of Environmental Education, will discuss falcon natural history and Pennsylvania's successful peregrine falcon reintroduction, and explore a year in the life of the falcons nesting on the Rachel Carson State Office Building, through the lens of the DEP Falcon Cam.
Wednesday, May 12: Raptors Over the Ridge
Presented by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Jamie Dawson, Education Director, will highlight raptor conservation, science, and education. Discover techniques and insights from the world's longest running raptor migration count at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary--the world's first refuge for birds of prey.
Wednesday, May 19: De-Mystifying Migration with Motus
Presented by North East Motus Collaboration
The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a network of researchers who use automated radio telemetry to study wildlife movements on a global scale. Caitlin Welsh, Bird Conservation Specialist, will introduce the Motus network, share educational materials, and suggest ways to engage with local or regional conservation efforts by getting involved with the Motus network.
Wednesday, May 26: Raptor Artistry
Presented by Pennsylvania Game Commission
Dan Lynch, Wildlife Education Specialist, will teach about amazing Pennsylvania raptor adaptations.
Wednesday, June 2: Life in a Nest Box
Presented by Penn State Shaver's Creek Environmental Center
Jon Kauffman, Assistant Program Director, will share the journey of mating, incubation, feeding young, and dispersal of barn owls and American Kestrels through the lens of nest-cams.
Wednesday, June 9: Behind the scenes at Shaver's Creek
Presented by Penn State Shaver's Creek Environmental Center
Jason Beale, Animal Care Program Director, will provide a behind-the-scenes tour of the Klingsberg Aviary to show how the staff care for and train the center's vultures, owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles.
MWEE 201
Format: Online
Date: Self-paced
Fee: Free
Act 48: 6 hours
Prerequisite: Course: MWEE 101 (noaa.gov)
Registration: Required. Register here
More information: Contact Krysta Hougen at krysta.hougen@noaa.gov
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE) is a vital teaching framework to help connect your students to science and watersheds. MWEE 201 builds on MWEE 101 by providing in-depth instruction on how to plan a MWEE and/or refine your current MWEE. Using the Environmental Literacy Model, you’ll be guided on the more challenging aspects of the MWEE, including how to incorporate student voice and help students identify informed action.
Elevate Your MWEE Virtual Educator Workshop: Empower your students 
Format: Virtual Zoom
Dates: May 11 and 18, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm both days; must attend both days
Fee: Free
Act 48: 2 hours/session
Prerequisite: Course: MWEE 101 (noaa.gov)
Registration: Required. Register here
Join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Earth Force to explore ways to increase student voice in your MWEE. Tips and tricks for student voice will be interwoven into each of the MWEE essential elements. 
Student Action and Stewardship in Pennsylvania’s Capitol Area (ONLY OPEN TO CLASSROOM TEACHERS IN IU 15 AND IU13) 
Format: Online
Dates: June 22 through June 24, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Fee: Free
Act 48: 27 hours
Prerequisite: Course: MWEE 101 (noaa.gov)
Registration: Register here
More Information: Contact Tarrea Potter at tpotter@cbf.org
This three-day course, led by certified MWEE Trainers, focuses on managing MWEE action projects.  This course will address essential MWEE elements and how to connect classroom content and student voice with local resources to create rich learning opportunities. Qualifying participants will receive a stipend and access to reimbursement for student action projects.Funding and support for this workshop has been provided by a NOAA Bay Watershed Education Training Grant.
Kings Gap Watershed Education Institute
Open to all certified classroom teachers in IU 13 and 15
Format: Online, with limited in-person training
Dates: July 19-23, 8:00 am- 4:00 pm
Fee: Free
Act 48: 45 hours
Prerequisite: Course: MWEE 101 (noaa.gov)
Registration: Register here
More Information: Contact Tarrea Potter at tpotter@cbf.org.
Led by certified MWEE Trainers, this five-day course includes three days of online instruction in July and two days of facilitated curriculum field experiences at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center.  Participants will conduct hands-on investigations, obtain a copy of DCNR’s Watershed Education Curriculum, and be provided support to implement a MWEE. Qualifying participants will receive a stipend and access reimbursement for student action projects. Funding for this workshop has been provided by a NOAA Bay Watershed Education Training Grant.
Advancing Environmental Literacy Leadership Academy - Act 45 Program for School Administrators
Format: Live virtual sessions + online learning + asynchronous work + culminating project
Dates: August 2 – September 26
Fee: Free
Act 45: 34 hrs. for School Administrators or others with supervisory certificates
Prerequisite: Course: MWEE 101 (noaa.gov)
Registration: Register here
More Information: Contact stem@iu13.org
The Advancing Environmental Literacy Leadership Academy is a blended (live-virtual sessions & online learning), advanced MWEE, 34-hour course designed to build the capacity of district and school leaders in increasing environmental literacy through the development of a systematic Environmental Literacy Plans.   
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
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