Sharing news from the DEP Environmental Education and Information Center and our partners. Happy summer!
Bert Myers, Director, Environmental Education and Information Center, DEP

Clean energy workforce development needed in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a strong manufacturing hub for wind turbines and ENERGY STAR® products. In addition, energy efficient and clean electricity generating technologies are ramping up, boosting the clean energy construction and installation industries. Nevertheless, eight in ten clean energy employers statewide reported difficulty finding qualified applicants at the end of 2019.
As the overall economy and clean energy sector now begin to recover from layoffs and delays in 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic, some employers are seeking more skilled workers to fulfill backed-up project demands.
The 2021 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Industry Workforce Development Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis Report, issued in May by the DEP Energy Programs Office, identifies the partnerships and programs that can most effectively train and prepare the Pennsylvania workforce to meet the needs of clean energy businesses. Data are presented on:
  • Employer hiring needs and difficulties, including education, experience, and certification requirements; preferred hiring sources; the provision of mentorship, internship, and apprenticeship programs; and typical promotion pathways;
  • Current clean energy training and education offered in Pennsylvania, both in-person and online, including geographic distribution, energy sector and occupational focus, and degree outcomes; and
  • Seven clean energy occupations in the state’s key technology sectors, including typical career pathways, educational attainment, common certifications, work experience, career satisfaction, and wages and employment benefits.  

Farming and energy use: New series of educational handouts

Does your work include educational outreach to farmers or youth in agriculture? Check out a new series of one-pager handouts on farming and energy use from the DEP Energy Programs Office and Penn State Extension. Topics covered to date are understanding energy efficiency, finding funding for energy projects, and discovering hidden opportunities for energy savings on the farm. Watch for future handouts on solar energy on the farm and other topics. All are free to download, print, and use. DEP will also have these farming and energy efficiency handouts available during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, August 10-12, at the Russell Larson Ag Research Center. Stop by! 

Funding for cleaner fuel transportation available from the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants Program

Approximately $5 million is available from the DEP Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants Program for school districts, municipal authorities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses in Pennsylvania to replace older gasoline- or diesel-fueled vehicles with cleaner fuel vehicles to reduce air pollution.
The program also supports installation of fueling stations for these vehicles.
For application instructions, see Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants Program. The program will collect and review all applications submitted by August 27 and then again by December 17.
Four educational institutions were funded in 2020:
  • Albright College received $96,708 to install two solar-powered level 2 electric vehicle chargers and $27,305 to lease five electric vehicles.
  • Lehigh University received $24,412 to purchase three electric vehicles and one electric all-terrain vehicle as part of transitioning the university police department to electric transportation.
  • Lower Merion School District recieved $289,590 to purchase 10 compressed natural gas school buses.
  • Wilson School District received $197,500 to install a propane fueling station for school buses.
Projects like these help improve air quality in Pennsylvania communities by reducing emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide.

Funding to install electric vehicle chargers available from Driving PA Forward

Schools, nonprofit organizations, government offices, businesses, and others can apply for rebates to offset the cost of installing electric vehicle chargers from the DEP Driving PA Forward program. Find information on how to apply for a rebate from this brochure or dep.pa.gov/DrivingPAForward

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

The 2022 Environmental Education application period is slated to open September 10 and end at 11:59 p.m. on December 10, 2021. Program priorities are water, climate change and Environmental Justice.  We anticipate the grants manual and required application forms to be posted in August. Please check the website: Environmental Education Grants Program.
Because it takes time to develop a meaningful grant proposal, we encourage you to begin talking with partners, drafting project ideas, and identifying eligible budget needs. Please feel free to reach out to us at RA-epEEgrants@pa.gov. We’re happy to answer questions as you develop your ideas.  
The DEP Environmental Education and Information Center is pleased to recognize several recent projects funded with Enviromental Education mini-grants (up to $3,000) or general grants (up to $20,000). For lists of other great projects recently funded, see our 2021 and 2020 announcements.
Butler Area School District used their mini-grant on a project in which high School students created a rainbow trout nursery and released about 250 trout in Thorn Creek.  The students also worked in teams to research and design riparian buffer improvements and planted 400 livestakes to help improve stream habitat and reduce runoff water pollution.
The Allegheny College Creek Connections program used a mini-grant to hold a virtual summer institute for teachers and then distributed macroinvertebrate sampling equipment sets. The project established weekly “Creek Chats” with teachers via Zoom, offering guest presenters and virtual field visits.  Once a hybrid school model was implemented, project staff collected stream samples and dropped them off at schools. Creek Connections also hosted a virtual Student Research Symposium engaging approximately 1,300 students!

The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts developed “Healthy Streams” interpretive sign templates with mini-grant support. The templates present educational information on macroinvertebrate life, fish habitat structures, and vegetative buffers. The templates can be customized by county conservation districts and installed statewide. 
The Franklin Institute hosted a virtual Youth Climate Summit over four days in April with help from a general grant. Eighteen teacher/student teams in southeast Pennsylvania (13 in Environmental Justice areas) participated in the summit to learn about the science of climate change, its local impacts, and solutions. During the culminating session, the teams designed a climate action plan specific to their school community. 
Youth Advisory Board members (center) and presenters at the Franklin Institute Youth Climate Summit in April.
Nurture Nature Center, working with the Penn State Extension Master Watershed Stewards Program, used their general grant to develop a Watershed Friendly Properties certification program designed to address stormwater runoff and pollution, conserve water, and support wildlife and pollinators. The site provides the program’s application and resources as well as a photo gallery of certified properties.  

Join the “Pick Up Pennsylvania” Fall Litter Cleanup Campaign

Organizing a local community litter pickup events is a great way to teach youth or adult groups about the impacts of litter not only on the land but also in our streams, rivers, and lakes in Pennsylvania and beyond. Join in “Pick Up Pennsylvania” in support of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Cleanup, from September 1 - November 30.  Register an event and find more information at Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

Travel the route a raindrop takes in new interactive map

From the time a raindrop hits the ground, it begins to travel to a larger body of water. Use an interactive map called “River Runner” from web developer Sam Learner to see the path of streams, creeks, and rivers that a raindrop will take to get to a larger body of water from any location in the United States. River Runner helps students see that most raindrops travel with the help of watersheds, and also how the runoff pollution they carry can damage watersheds. Learn more.
The public comment period on the proposed revised Environment and Ecology state education standards closed on July 6. Following review by the state legislature and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the State Board of Education will determine if any further revisions are necessary and meet to consider the revised standards as a final regulation. The proposed revised standards, frequently asked questions, and more information may be found on the state Department of Education science standards website. For more information, please e-mail ScienceStandards@pattan.net.
Three of the four eggs laid in March hatched successfully at the nest on the 15th floor ledge on the Rachel Carson State Office Building.
DEP and the Pennsylvania Game Commission banded the eyasses. In addition to  the standard U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bands, colored tape is affixed to each young falcon’s band. This year they were banded Green, Red, and Yellow.
Falcon Watch and Rescue volunteers were ready as the young falcons practiced flights in May and June. Yellow was the first to fledge, on June 1, followed the next day by Green. Both fledglings had to be rescued and were deemed healthy and then returned either to top of the building or to the ledge. They continue to improve their flight and hunting skills as they prepare to disperse in late summer, joining the population of peregrine falcons in Pennsylvania and the eastern United States.
The challenges the urban environment presents to fledging falcons are all too apparent, as the red-banded fledgling perished after colliding with a building. Following protocol, the Game Commission took possession in compliance with state and federal regulations. A necropsy showed no abnormal signs of heavy metals or organic compounds.
Read all of our latest updates at dep.pa.gov/falconwire.
  • Day 1 - Tuesday, August 17, 10:00 am - noon: Intro to the MWEE Framework
    Online via Zoom
  • Day 2 - Wednesday, August 18, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm: Water Education Skill-Building
    In person at Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center, 8050 Running Valley Road, Stroudsburg, PA 18360 
  • Day 3 - Thursday, August 19, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm: Sustainability Education Skill-Building
    In person at Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority, 183 Commercial Boulevard, Blakeslee, PA 18610
Fee: Free
Act 48: Up to 15 hours
Registration: Register now
Questions? Contact Bert Myers at gimyers@pa.gov
Designed for formal and non-formal educators, this free, three-day hybrid workshop will help participants explore how the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience framework connects K-12 students to sustainable concepts and local water resources.
MWEEs are powerful learner-centered experiences in which students investigate local environmental issues, complete informed action projects, improve standards-based achievement, and grow environmental literacy.
This workshop is a collaboration by DEP, Stroud Water Research Center, Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center, Waste Management, and the Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority.

Date: August 2 - September 26, 2021 (8 weeks)
Format: Online—live virtual sessions, online learning, asynchronous work, and culminating project
Fee: Free
Act 45: 34 hours for school administrators or others with supervisory certificates
Registration: Register now
Questions? Contact stem@iu13.org
The Advancing Environmental Literacy Leadership Academy is a 34-hour online course that builds the capacity of district and school leaders to increase Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences and environmental literacy within their organization through the development of a systematic Environmental Literacy Plan. 
This course aligns to theories of change that suggest that educational leaders must identify their ultimate vision and desired outcomes and develop a strategic plan containing the activities and supports to achieve the goal. This course will guide administrators through the strategic planning process by identifying a guiding coalition of various stakeholders to support the work; developing a vision for environmental literacy; articulating goals, strategies, and activities to achieve their vision; and identifying funding and community assets to sustain their environmental literacy plans. 

Date: Thursday, September 23, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Format: In person or virtual –the Central Hotel & Conference Center, 800 East Park Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17111
Fee: In person: $65 (includes lunch); virtual: $50
Act 48: Hours provided to both in-person and virtual attendees
Registration: Register now
Questions? Contact Jennifer Fetter at jrf21@psu.edu
The Dive Deeper Water Educators Summit is a multi-state environmental education conference on innovative teaching about water. It’s for anyone who teaches youth about water or is interested in educational tools and resources for teaching about water.
For the first time, we’re offering in-person or virtual attendance. The limited in-person option includes your choice from 16 different concurrent session workshops, lunch, networking, keynote speakers, exhibits, and more. Sign up early to secure your in-person spot, an early bird discount, and a special conference mailing including materials to help you participate in hands-on activities in the workshops.
You can also join us virtually! A professional AV company will provide a live stream offering of our keynote speakers, a select track of three workshops, and a unique networking session just for virtual participants.
Scholarships are available: A limited number of full summit scholarships will be awarded to applicants to attend the Dive Deeper Water Summit. Applications must be submitted by end of day on August 1, 2021. Apply now.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
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