As we enjoy spring and prepare for summer, we have information to share on a variety of topics to benefit environmental education professionals. This issue of Teaching Green recognizes 2023 Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience award winners and provides updates on DEP Environmental Education Grants, the Harrisburg falcons, DEP Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants, Pennsylvania Native Species Day, Keep PA Beautiful, professional development opportunities, and more. Read on!

Bert Myers, Director, Environmental Education and Information Center, DEP

Shoutouts: 2022 Environmental Education Grant funded projects

Philadelphia Solar Energy Association: Students show what a clean energy future looks like
The Philadelphia Solar Energy Association used their Environmental Education Grant to launch an “Imagine a Clean Energy Future” art contest for 5th-12th grade students in the Philadelphia area. Students in 40 schools sent over 100 entries in the categories of visual arts (drawings, paintings, collages, etc.), language arts (shorts essays, poems, or other writings), and video.
Students will share their visions and receive recognition at an event on April 23 at The Friends Center in Philadelphia. For more information or to attend the event, please contact Liz Robinson, project director, at:
Discovery Pathways: Teens in south Philadelphia learn to become watershed leaders
Discovery Pathways applied their Environmental Education Grant to their watershed education program, which trains 25 teens from immigrant and refugee communities in south Philadelphia to be watershed educators. The youth leaders have earned badges in water testing, boating, water safety, and more. They’ve helped to deliver multiple community events including a Health Care Fair, Boating Days, and Community Walks.
“The best part is helping new families boat (on the river). I love all the smiling children and feel so proud using my language skills and being a leader.”  
"I never thought I would be a leader here because I am a new immigrant here. Now I help so many people and am connected to great teachers and students. We do so many great things.”
“This program helped me get out of the house. Many of us are stuck at home with only playing on the phone. Now I interact with nature and my parents let me go to the park all the time. I feel so much happier from this program.”
To learn more about the Discovery Pathways program, please contact: Adam Forbes, Project Leader:
 Mountain Watershed Association: Water Guardians learn in the field
Mountain Watershed Association used their Environmental Education Grant to enable their Water Guardians afterschool program to host two fall field studies for students in Clifford N. Pritts Springfield Elementary and West Crawford Elementary in Connellsville Area School District, Fayette County.  
While visiting the Melcroft abandoned mine drainage treatment system, students sampled for macroinvertebrates and learned how the passive treatment system cleans polluted water. At Indian Creek Gorge, students met with a Trout Unlimited member to learn about clean water and healthy trout streams.
In addition to field studies, students have participated in a variety of hands-on activities, including building their own watershed model out of recycled materials. At the conclusion of each session, students journal about their experiences. Teachers have observed students’ behaviors changing, for example, picking up trash and expressing compassion for animals and the environment.  
Mountain Watershed has created an extensive file of lessons and activities such as Guided Hikes, The Water Cycle, and Invasive Species. For more information about the education materials, or to learn more about the project, contact Hannah Spencer at

2024 Environmental Education Grants application deadline changed to mid-November

The 2024 Environmental Education Grant Program will begin accepting applications in early August 2023 for the project period July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025. Note: The application deadline will be November 15, 2023.  

Two organizations earn 2022 Pennsylvania Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience Awards

The Environmental Literacy Steering Committee of the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators recently recognized two organizations with Pennsylvania Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) Awards.
MWEE School of Excellence Award: Hambright Elementary School, Penn Manor School District, Millersville
In 2021, Penn Manor teachers Katie Harnish and Brad Showalter implemented the first Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) in the Shared Waters led by Millersville University and Virginia Wesleyan University. This collaborative project geographically spans the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. It impacts students through teacher professional development and classroom implementation, while training the next generation of teachers by embedding MWEE instruction into undergraduate teacher education programs at Millersville and Virginia Wesleyan.
Hambright Elementary School students collected water quality data at a nearby creek through biotic and abiotic surveys and determined that the creek was healthy, though more could be done to further improve it. After learning more about how little of the water on the planet can be used by humans, and how much of this is wasted, Mrs. Harnish’s class issued a challenge to the rest of the school to increase water conservation. An awareness campaign included PSA videos shown during announcements, posters placed around the school, and an art installation of 82-gallon jugs illustrating the average amount of water per day Americans use.
Mr. Showalter’s class also participated in the field experience at the nearby creek. Students learned how stormwater runoff can impact water quality of local waterbodies. The students then walked the school grounds to identify areas with stormwater runoff issues as well as identify the various ways school personnel and community members use the campus. This prompted an exploration of groundwater, storm water systems, stormwater management, and an in-depth exploration of stormwater runoff impacts. 
MWEE Partner in Excellence Award: Friends of the Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Marsh, Philadelphia
All fourth graders from Patterson and Penrose Elementary Schools (150 students) participated in the Philly Nature Kids program of Friends of the Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Marsh. Environmental education supervisor Brianna Amingwa and environmental education specialists Kelly Kemmerle and Kelly Quain at the refuge are recognized for this exemplary program.
Students received 19 hands-on, inquiry-based environmental education lessons (9 field trips and 10 classroom lessons) and assistance to create student-designed stewardship projects focusing on the Delaware Watershed. Projects included installing additional trash and recycling cans and planting trees in their schoolyard and planning and implementing a clean-up at the refuge.
Students presented their projects through posters, video messages, and PowerPoints to a panel of stakeholders, including school administration, refuge staff, Friends of the John Heinz Refuge, and a representative from DEP Environmental Education Center. Following collaboration with Riverbend Environmental Education Center that led to the implementation of their Nature-Based STEMP program, the formal educators gained skills and understanding of outdoor teaching and learning as well as a skill set in the development of a MWEE. 

Teachers and partners develop Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience for Carmichael High School

A well-constructed MWEE engages students in four essential elements: issue definition, outdoor field experiences, synthesis and conclusions, and environmental action projects. Carmichael Area High School in Greene County presents an excellent example, crafted by teacher Kevin Willis, who shares this report:
Outdoor Field Experience:
In mid-September students visited Laurel Hill State Park to rotate through three stations: canoe, kayak, and tree identification stations. The paddling experience was under the supervision of PA Fish and Boat educators. DCNR Bureau of Forestry led the students on a tree ID hike to better understand the trees at various locations surrounding the park.
DCNR Bureau of Forestry also prepared a riparian forest buffer plan for an area along the stream at the Carmichael Nature Trail as part of our Center for Great Lakes Literacy MWEE project. This plan included trees suitable for that habitat along with necessary supplies for our riparian forest buffer. Students flagged the area along the stream that will be planted in Zones 1, 2 and 3.
Knowledge Building/Synthesis and Conclusions:
To continue their knowledge building, students will visit Penn West University-California campus to gain instruction in preparation for the MWEE project. During this visit, students will be instructed by Penn West University professors on various aspects of the project including wildlife identification and riparian buffers.
Hands-On Action Plan:
Action Project: Scheduled for mid-April, teams of students will complete the riparian forest buffer planting project. Students will be instructed on planting, staking, protecting, and watering the trees. Once planting is complete, students will also review tree measurement and silviculture practices.
Part 2 of the Action Project, students will conduct their stream shocking/fish and macro identification station. Engineering professionals from Wallance and Pancher will be spending the afternoon electroshocking the stream to determine biodiversity with students while identifying fish and macroinvertebrates that are in the waterway.  

Recent DEP Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants to benefit students 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently awarded $1.5 million in 2022 Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant funding to help municipalities, schools, and businesses switch to clean transportation and improve air quality in their communities.
Two awardees will use funding for student transportation:
  • University of Pennsylvania: $52,500 for seven electric transit vans for student transport, as part of the university’s Fleet Electrification Initiative.
  • Highland Electric Fleets: $75,000 for 10 electric vans and $225,000 for 20 DC fast chargers for a school district in Pennsylvania.
Gasoline and diesel vehicles generate 47 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions in Pennsylvania, contributing to ground-level ozone. This affects the health of children, older people, people who work or are active outdoors, and people with asthma, emphysema, or other lung conditions.
The transportation sector makes up 22 percent of Pennsylvania’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Governor’s Invasive Species Council announces statewide survey results and regional pilot management program

The Pennsylvania Governor’s Invasive Species Council recently shared findings from the first statewide survey of impacts from invasive plants, insects, pathogens, and animals. More than 600 participants described firsthand experiences with one to three invasive species.
Representing every county, participants reported problems with invasive species in a range of settings: 70 percent in parks, forests, or other natural areas on land; over 50 percent in or along waterways, on roadsides, and in urban and suburban areas; and 30 percent in agricultural areas, including tree nurseries, timber lots, vineyards, and farms.
The Council proposes that the growing number of invasive species in Pennsylvania requires a statewide program that would identify regional priorities and enable regional solutions, bringing together expertise from local and state government, industry, community, and academic organizations. Across the state six Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs) would be established.
The Council and Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) will partner to pilot a small-scale version of a PRISM in 13 northwest counties in July. PACD will conduct on-the-ground projects to remove invasive species and educational outreach to help prevent introduction of invasives. In addition, PACD will develop a strategic plan identifying priorities and committed partners for the region.
Spotted lanternflies
Emerald ash borer
Zebra mussels

Join in: Pennsylvania Native Species Day, May 18, 2023

The Governor’s Invasive Species Council will celebrate the second annual Pennsylvania Native Species Day on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Schools, organizations, local governments, and businesses are all welcome to join in with activities celebrating Pennsylvania’s native plants, animals, and insects and highlighting the need to protect biodiversity from the proliferation of invasive species.
For ideas, graphics, messaging, and a list of organizations that are participating this year, visit the Pennsylvania Native Species Day web page.  
Did you know that if your environmental improvement project needs funding, DEP can help? We offer 40 grant and rebate programs to support a range of projects to improve or protect the water, land, and air in Pennsylvania. Whether your scope is to serve your local community or more statewide efforts, one of our funding programs may be able to help. In addition, many programs give special consideration to applicants in environmental justice areas. Check out the DEP Grants, Loans and Rebates webpage for more details.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is relaunching its National Environmental Justice Community Engagement sessions to increase meaningful and engaging participation with community groups and the public. You can catch up on past recorded sessions and stay updated on upcoming sessions here. 

State Education Standards Update

STEELS Academic Standards Policy Memo to the Shapiro-Davis Administration
New academic standards for Science, Technology & Engineering, Environmental Literacy & Sustainability were adopted by the State Board of Education in January 2022. The standards were part of amendments to 22 PA, Code Chapter 4 that were published as final in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on July 16, 2022. The new standards will help create conditions for all students to become literate in science, technology, engineering and the environment, to support both Pennsylvania’s vitality and its civic strength.
The new standards are aligned to current research and best practices in science education. They prioritize a shift away from memorization of facts to having students productively participate in scientific discourse and practices, involve students in sustained investigation to support deeper understanding, and recognize that even young children are capable of more sophisticated scientific reasoning than originally thought. The standards also include a new domain for “Environmental Literacy and Sustainability” across all grade levels. This domain incorporates essential principles of environmental education organized under the following three core ideas: 1. Agricultural and Environmental systems and Resources; 2. Environmental Literacy Skills; and 3. Sustainability and Stewardship.
To support schools’ implementation of the new integrated standards for science, technology & engineering, and environmental literacy & sustainability, there will be a three-year implementation window. Effective June 30, 2025 the academic standards for Science and Technology (2002) and Environment and Ecology (2002) will be sunset. The new set of standards, Science, Technology & Engineering, Environmental Literacy & Sustainability (STEELS) will be fully integrated into classroom instruction by the 2025-26 school year. PDE has created Pennsylvania Department of Education STEELS Hub to assist educators in understanding the standards design and the supporting foundation boxes and to provide a wealth of materials and resources to support implementation.
On April 7, the fourth and final egg of 2023 arrived. This is significant because 2023 is the first breeding year for the Rachel Carson State Office Building nest site’s current pair. With the arrival of the last egg in the clutch, arrangements for banding, and preparations for Falcon Watch and Rescue are underway.
Watch & Rescue Volunteers Needed
The Falcon Watch & Rescue (W&R) Program is successful due to volunteer efforts during the fledgling season. The tentative span for the 2023 W&R season is Saturday, June 10-Tuesday, June 20. After the eggs hatch and eyasses develop, Sue Hannon, the long time Watch & Rescue Volunteer Coordinator, and Bert Myers of the Environmental Education and Information Center will be able to better project when the birds will begin taking flight.
Once the season begins, W&R volunteers meet on the lawn across from the Rachel Carson State Office Building and are given assigned locations to observe and track the fledglings. Birds that are “grounded,” are “rescued” and, barring signs of injury, returned to the roof of the RCSOB for the adults to take over and coax them back to the 15th floor ledge nest site. Birds that have suspected injuries are transported to Red Creek Wildlife Center for treatment and further observation. 
Interested in volunteering? Volunteers are needed from 5:30 am to approximately 9:00 pm daily. A virtual “training session” will be scheduled in May. For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact Kathleen Banski ( or Sue Hannon at     

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

Keep PA Beautiful (KPB) continues to promote the statewide anti-litter campaign, “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”
In addition, KPB launched the Litter Action Plan’s recommendation for the Young Ambassador Program. The students – chosen through a competitive process – will be graduating this May after dedicating nine months to the program.
Want to Fight Dirty in your community, but not sure where to start? One way is to register a litter cleanup event for Pick Up Pennsylvania:
March 1 - May 31: The spring event in support of The Great American Cleanup is eligible for free work gloves, safety vests, and trash bags as supplies last. Donated landfill space for trash collected during the cleanup is also available for free or reduced cost between April 1-30.
June 1 - August 31: Events can be registered in the summer but are not eligible for free supplies at this time. Please also be aware of the additional safety concerns for spring and summer events in PA like ticks, snakes, vegetation, and poison ivy.
September 1 - November 30: The fall event in support of The International Coastal Cleanup is eligible for free work gloves, safety vests, and trash bags as supplies last. There is no donated landfill space for the fall event.
When you register an event, you’ll receive an e-mail with detailed instructions for supplies and resources, safety information, and a link to report your event. To learn more about hosting a community cleanup, choosing an event location, organizing, and mobilizing volunteers, coordinating trash disposal, and more, watch this Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful webinar on YouTube.
Tools for Schools
Find tools and resources for educators and students to help learn and teach about the effects litter has on people, animals, and the environment and what you can do to keep your community clean and beautiful. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s Tools for Schools includes Litter and Education Resources, opportunities to get involved and other resources.
MWEEs and How Schools and EE Providers Can Partner (Virtual) 
May 2, 2023 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Join this session for an introduction to Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) and their place in the new PA academic standards in science, technology, engineering, environmental literacy, and sustainability (STEELS). Facilitators will then discuss how schools and EE providers can collaborate to fully implement MWEEs.
Free for PAEE Members, $5 for nonmembers. Register today!
Raptors of Pennsylvania: Successes and Challenges Educator Workshop
June 13, 2023, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Explore the world of Pennsylvania’s raptors reviewing successful recoveries and the challenges of the future. Join environmental educators from PA Department of Environmental Protection, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and Shaver's Creek Environmental Center as they profile recovered species, the Bald Eagle, Osprey, and the Peregrine falcon, and species that require continued efforts to maintain and expand the population within the Commonwealth.
This in-person, professional development opportunity will be held at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, located in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, PA  and is designed for formal and non-formal educators. Upon completion of this one-day event, participants can receive Act 48 credit for their participation. Please bring a lunch and water bottle.
The 2023 Great Lakes Literacy Education Exploration (GLLee) Self-Paced Courses are Now Open! GLLee are free, fun, 3-hour online, interactive, asynchronous courses for educators on a Great Lakes topic. Courses are open to all, not just those in the Great Lakes Region.
Upon completion, participants will receive:
  • A certificate for 3 contact hours
  • Access to a curated collection of hands-on lessons, activities, & resources
2023 Topics (pre-registration required, click titles to register)
Aquatic Invasive Species (best suited for students in grades 4-12)
  • Driving Question - How do invasive species impact the Great Lakes and what can we do to help reduce their impacts on native ecosystems?
Coastal Erosion (best suited for students in grades 6-12)
  • Driving Question - How does coastal erosion shape the shorelines of the Great Lakes and impact our ecosystems and communities?
Marine Debris (best suited for students in grades 4-12)
  • Driving Question - How does marine debris impact our Great Lakes and animals (including humans) and plants that depend on this freshwater resource?
Urban Water Cycle (best suited for students in grades 4-12)
  • Driving Question - How do people access clean, fresh water, and what happens to the water after its use?
Vernal Pools (best suited for students in grades 6-12)
  • Driving Question - How do vernal pools (seasonal woodland wetlands) benefit the Great Lakes region?
Questions? Contact
This opportunity is provided by The Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL), a Sea Grant-led network and partnership that promotes Great Lakes literacy among an engaged community of educators, scientists, residents, and students by encouraging hands-on experiences and basin-wide stewardship; and providing educational resources & networking opportunities. This GLLee opportunity is supported by CGLL with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) & National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
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