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DEP Announces Funding for Environmental Education Projects for Youth and Adults in Southwest Pennsylvania


MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Camarda,

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today awarded a little over $1 million in 2022 Environmental Education Grant funding to 73 projects statewide, including 18 projects in the southwest region.


"The Shapiro Administration is committed to delivering practical solutions to the environmental and safety issues our communities face from climate change and water pollution," said DEP Acting Secretary Rich Negrin. "Pennsylvania's environmental educators help provide these solutions. Through impactful work in the field, classroom, and neighborhood, they engage Pennsylvanians of all ages and backgrounds in projects that can have immediate local impacts and spark lasting environmental stewardship."


The Environmental Education Grant program prioritizes projects that engage youth or adults who live, work, or attend school in environmental justice areas. It also prioritizes projects that educate participants to develop practical solutions and take action to help their communities become more climate change resilient or reduce water pollution to improve local water quality.  


"Fully 83 percent of this grant funding supports educational projects that will benefit environmental justice communities, as we continue to expand our work to help Pennsylvanians most at risk from pollution, climate change related hazards, and other environmental impacts," said Negrin.


Funding was awarded to schools and colleges, environmental and community organizations, and county conservation districts for a range of hands-on programs for students, community projects for adults, teacher training workshops, and more.


Ranging from a 100 percent outdoor hands-on science curriculum to workshops for adults on household waste and its impacts on the environment, 18 projects in southwest counties received a total of $278,468.


Multiple counties


  • Pennsylvania Resources Council: $19,525 to conduct eight backyard composting workshops designed to reach 250 households in Allegheny and Delaware counties. Participants will learn about waste minimization in the home and make connections between waste and broader issues such as climate change, water pollution, soil health, and gardening. Participants will receive a compost bin and instructions.

  • Watersmith Guild: $25,815 to provide educational workshops that empower underserved youth in Cambria and Indiana counties with skills and knowledge to improve their lives and create lasting positive impacts on the environment. Students will work with professional instructors and mentors to become proficient river surfers, paddlers, and waterway stewards, through activities including tree planting, water sampling, stream biology, and whitewater paddle boarding. Through hands-on education in filmmaking and digital media, students will create videos about their experiences to inspire in others an appreciation for watersheds and the power of outdoor connections to enhance our personal lives and communities.




  • Allegheny County Conservation District: $4,999 to host field workshops for municipal managers to elevate their knowledge of watersheds, watershed planning, and best management practices to remedy non-point source pollution and impacts of climate change, such as localized flooding.

  • Chalfant Run/Thompson Run Watershed Association: $4,494 to hold four classroom workshops and four outdoor sessions for third through sixth grade students. Content will address causes of local water pollution, including litter, stormwater, and abandoned mine drainage, and explore solutions for improving water quality, such as stream restoration projects.  

  • Communitopia: Two grants— $29,995 for an institute that will prepare grade 7-12 teachers to engage students in local hands-on climate change learning and solutions and will provide student field trips, including interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning stations on local climate change causes, effects, and solutions; $5,000 for workshops to train K-12 teachers on creative expression as an effective teaching strategy for exploring climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice. Participants will learn how to initiate small-scale (home or classroom) or large-scale (school, district, or community) climate solutions using creative expression.

  • Michael Brothers Hauling, Inc.: $4,540 to hold seven workshops led by industry experts and environmental justice community members on urban ecology issues. Workshop topics will include urban water infrastructure, compost, green building, vermiculture, permaculture, recycling, and solar energy.

  • Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light: $29,965 to engage 40 to 50 students through hands-on workshops and urban farming experiences. Students will increase their understanding of watershed protection and energy, water, and waste conservation and will be encouraged to take actions with their family and friends to reduce the effects of climate change and improve community and individual health.

  • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy: $25,533 to implement state standards, climate change education, and meaningful action projects in the parks with students at five high schools in Pittsburgh in the fall, winter, and spring. Topics will highlight habitat improvement, tree planting, and stormwater mitigation strategies.

  • Venture Outdoors: $20,000 to provide 20 environmental education activities and field trips to 120 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. The lessons will engage students in watershed, climate change, and environmental education through activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking, gardening, and environmental STEM.




  • RiverWise: $18,900 to conduct a countywide summer sustainability institute for high school students from six environmental justice areas in Beaver County. Teaching, field trips, group discussions, and activities will be captured through photos and video that will be shared via social media and web-based platforms to extend the reach of the project.




  • Connellsville Area School District: $4,370 to hold bimonthly afterschool club meetings for fourth and fifth grade students on local watersheds and waterways. Hands-on activities will include STEM focused lessons and visits to local sites to learn about the importance of waterways to the community and region.

  • Mountain Watershed Association: $29,999 to expand outdoor education in the greater Connellsville area by offering a monthly afterschool program for third to fifth grades, a monthly community workshop, and two professional development trainings for formal and non-formal educators. Topics will include watershed conservation, basic ecology, climate change, and local environmental impacts.




  • YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh: $4,895 to provide teacher training and middle school student instruction about watersheds. Participants will travel to an outdoor location to plan and execute a service project. Students will present their experience to an elected official and the community.




  • California Area School District: $30,000 to create an outdoor science school curriculum for sixth grade that aligns with the new Pennsylvania state science standards. The curriculum will be taught entirely outdoors, providing students 100 percent hands-on experiences. Students will incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) environmentally sustainable practices into their local environmental civic action projects.




  • Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art: $4,813 to coordinate a Pennsylvania master naturalist training in the Laurel Highlands. After a 13-week training, up to 10 adults will complete 30 hours of service to conservation organizations, municipalities, schools and more as they become trained volunteers and leaders to address conservation needs and challenges.

  • Seton Hill University: $5,000 to provide three professional development workshops for faculty to incorporate sustainability topics into their disciplines and to provide staff with education on sustainability practices to help reduce the campus's environmental footprint.

  • Westmoreland County Conservation District: $5,000 to provide stormwater education to 40 students in the Mosaic Community Development Center's afterschool program. The conservation district will present two in-person educational programs for the students and work with the students and center to develop a demonstration rain garden that incorporates the lessons learned.


The Environmental Education Grants Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates setting aside 5 percent of the pollution fines and penalties DEP collects annually for environmental education in Pennsylvania. To date, DEP has awarded $13.3 million in Environmental Education Grant funding to support 2,199 projects.


For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit the website or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn



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