5 Nonprofits Win UL Innovation Education Award
One program teaches girls the science and math skills they need to solve environmental problems in their communities and go on to lives of greater opportunity, another uses marine science to empower students in a low-income, highly diverse San Diego community, and yet another gives Hawaiian middle schoolers the chance to participate in research surrounding the reintroduction of the highly endangered 'Alala (Hawaiian Crow).
All are innovative environmental science, technology, engineering and math (E-STEM) education non-profits that have been awarded the 2018 UL Innovation Education Award, announced Wednesday.
The UL Innovation Education Award, designed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) offers $250,000 to non-profits in the U.S. and Canada that are working with young people to inspire a passion for STEM through tackling environmental problems.
"The award program … empowers the next generation of leaders to connect with the natural world, develop science-based sustainable solutions for local communities and nurture a capacity for social responsibility." the website explains, and 2018's winners certainly do all three.
Scroll down for an inspiring round-up of the innovative programs teaching tomorrow's environmental leaders and problem solvers.
Techbridge Girls at Cascade Middle School in Seattle, WA designed a community garden (prototype) to help provide fresh produce to individuals who may not be able to afford it otherwise.Techbridge Girls
When the founder of Techbridge Girls began taking her son to STEM enrichment programs, she noticed that there were very few girls participating. Since she had an academic background, she went to the research to see if girls were really less interested in STEM subjects. But that's not what the research said.
Instead, it was "the environment, the pedagogy, the exposure, the opportunities and the narratives that we've created around STEM that prevent them from wanting to engage with it," current Techbridge Girls CEO Nikole Collins-Puri explained.
So she set out to change that, and has widely succeeded. The program, which began in 2000 out of the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California, has grown to include other parts of California, Seattle and Washington DC.
It conducts after-school programs with girls aged six to 17 in low-income school districts, and has seen measurable results. Its graduates are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to enroll in AP algebra and calculus classes and twice as likely to pursue careers in STEM fields as the national average.
While the program focuses on all STEM skills and fields, not just environmental ones, Collins-Puri said that, when given a chance to solve problems in their communities, environmental problems are often the ones the students choose to solve.
Techbridge Girls won this award specifically to expand their middle-school ChangeMakers program, in which girls are encouraged to use STEM skills to solve problems in their communities.
Collins-Puri said at the end of the year showcase, most projects focus on either the environment or bullying.
For example, a student named Ximena used woodworking and electrical engineering to build a birdhouse designed to attract endangered species to her school. Another student, Amaya, designed a portable utensil holder so that classmates could bring silverware from home instead of wasting plastic by using the cafeteria's single-use cutlery.
"Now they have the language and the knowledge, but also the skills so they can be change agents," Collins-Puri said.
Award Winner: $50,000
A video explaining Ocean Science Explorers, one of the Ocean Discovery Institute's key programs.
The Ocean Discovery Institute is another program providing science education in a low-income community that has made a measurable difference in the lives of its students.
It works with students at all levels in the "school shed" of the San Diego neighborhood of City Heights, a low-income community that is also one of the most diverse in the nation, providing tuition-free science education that ranges from day-long data collecting trips to San Diego bay to intensive summer programs in Baja California working on conservation projects like reducing bycatch in fishing nets.
And the program pays off. "Our students in record numbers go on to pursue these fields," Director Shara Fisler said.
Fisler started the program in 1999 after her experience taking on inner-city Los Angeles high-school students as research interns. She said it was "mind-boggling" how participating in actual research "changed their belief in their own abilities as the summer progressed."
This is the confidence-boosting experience her project has gone on to replicate for thousands of students over the past twenty years. And she will use the award money to expand the number of participants, both by moving in to a new facility that will allow the program to work with 10,000 students and by developing ways to scale the program to other communities.
"Our students can be the innovators of tomorrow," Fisler said.
Award Winner: $50,000
The Sweet Water Foundation provides young people in Chicago's South side with STEM and green collar skills as they work to restore community spaces.Sweet Water Foundation
Embodying its tagline "There Grows the Neighborhood," Sweet Water Foundation (SWF) gives low-income young people living on Chicago's South side the chance to participate in transforming their community while learning valuable skills.
The foundation practices something called "Regenerative Neighborhood Development," turning abandoned lots and buildings into sustainable community spaces that are ecologically and economically productive.
"SWF's work is a direct response to the everyday chaos of economic hardships, violence, perpetual poverty, and systemic racism that pervades the community. SWF operates in a manner that acknowledges these realities and delivers skill-based training in a healing environment that restores connections to others, the land and our creative human nature," Executive Director Emmanuel Pratt said.
It began in 2009 as a program dedicated to bringing aquaponics to K-12 classrooms and transformed its first urban location in 2010 by turning an old shoe warehouse into an aquaponics and urban agriculture center.
The program has grown to work with hundreds of thousands of people in three rust-belt cities, according to its one paper.
It won this award specifically for its Apprenticeship and Outreach Program (AOP), which gives young people training in STEM and green collar career paths as they work to transform unused urban spaces.
"Since 2015, AOP has become the heart of the organization—engaging youth in the revitalization of their communities and providing critical job/life skills such as carpentry, farming, nutrition, meal preparation and architecture," Pratt said.
SWF will use the award money to facilitate the growing number of projects it is developing for its apprentices.
An 'Alala, or Hawaiian crow.San Diego Zoo
The 'Alala (or Hawaiian crow) Reintroduction Community Inquiry Program allows students to participate in a different kind of recovery, the recovery of a native bird species extinct in the wild.
Fifty-four six, seventh and eighth graders visited the San Diego Zoo's Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, where the birds are being cared for and reintroduced.
There, students collected and harvested native fruits, giving some to the staff to pass through the 'Alala's digestive system, and returning with the rest to care for in a newly built greenhouse.
The well-being of both sets of plants will then be assessed, the students having participated in research into whether the presence of 'Alala helps forests regenerate.
The pilot program was a success with students, according to Wells.
"He said that they were just extremely engaged," director of community engagement at San Diego Zoo Global Maggie Reinbold said.
Reinhold said the award will allow them to expand the program next year to four other schools.
The expanding student program parallels the expanding reintroduction of the birds themselves. Eleven birds that were released into the wild in 2017 are doing well, and will likely be joined by 10 to 12 more in September.
"Hopefully, eventually, the kids will be able to see them in the wild," Reinbold said.
The program also focuses on the 'Alala's significance in Hawaiian culture. Next year students will conduct interviews with Hawaiians who remember encountering the birds in the wild.
"The whole story is built around this species both culturally and ecologically, and getting that species back out into our native forests here, and having the community support behind that effort," Reinbold said.
The final video explaining a Groundswell-facilitated project to paint a mural educating the community about storm-drain pollution.
Groundswell is a program run out of the College of Education at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Grand Rapids, Michigan that works with K-12 teachers across the state to "support them in doing placed-based, E-STEM activities," associate director at Center for Educational Partnerships at Grand Valley State University Clayton Pelon, who leads the program, said.
It has expanded from working with just 7 schools in 2009 to more than 3,500 students at around 30 schools during the 2015-2016 school year.
Groundswell works with teachers to find community experts and partners to facilitate students in "learning what was going on in their community with nonpoint source pollution" and devising solutions, Pelon said.
One of the more successful projects featured a mural raising awareness about pollution entering waterways via storm drains that the students submitted to the 2015 ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids.
Pelon said the program benefited students in two key ways. First, research conducted thanks to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant showed that, "in older students, it slowed the decline of their connection to nature," Pelon said.
Second, participating in programs with community partners inspired students to go into environmental policy or science careers, since they got to "see people having jobs in a field that they might not have ever considered," Pelon said.
Groundswell will use the award money to do more active recruiting and to develop a way to be more self-sustaining as an organization, instead of living from grant to grant.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- California Winery Cuts Carbon Emissions With Lighter Bottles ... ›
- Wealthy One Percent Are Producing More Carbon Emissions Than ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
- 14 States On Track to Meet Paris Targets - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Names John Kerry as First-Ever Climate Envoy - EcoWatch ›
By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
- Pebble Mine Threatens One of the Last Great Salmon Rivers ... ›
- The Pebble Mine Is Too Toxic Even for the Trump Administration ... ›
- Trump Admin Reverses Obama-Era Restrictions on Pebble Mine ... ›
OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.