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Pa. environmental education programs receive $1 million from state

Yellow flowers are in the foreground; a creek and bridge in the background
Matt Rourke
Big Elk Creek State Park in Chester County.

The Department of Environmental Protection is giving nearly $1 million to 56 programs across the state that prioritize water quality, climate change mitigation, or environmental justice.

The Environmental Education Grants Program was created in 1993. DEP must set aside 5% of the pollution fines and penalties it collects each year for the program. To date, DEP says it has awarded more than $14 million to support more than 2,200 projects.

This year’s projects range from running summer camps to helping people protect their homes from stormwater.

DEP says almost all of the programs will benefit environmental justice communities, which are places where people are more threatened by climate change and air and water pollution than the general public.

“These projects help connect people to the ways we can protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, and many of them encourage learning at any age whether you’re a kid or an adult,” said DEP Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley.

Pennsylvania Envirothon is getting $53,938 to help run its annual environmental knowledge competition among high school teams statewide.

Bucknell University plans to use $5,000 dollars to raise public awareness of firefly conservation efforts in Lycoming County.

The Watersmith Guild plans to use $26,750 to run workshops in six western Pennsylvania counties. The “First Waves” project will teach young people to be waterway stewards through stream biology and climate change investigations, tree plantings, water samplings, and paddle boarding.

The National Audubon Society is getting $25,000 to develop a climate resilience and community health workshop series in Philadelphia.

In Dauphin County, the county conservation district will put $5,000 into educating homeowners about managing stormwater runoff.

The full list of awards can be found here.

Grants are open to schools and colleges, environmental and community-based organizations, county conservation districts, and businesses.

Groups can apply for the next round of grants later this summer.

This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among WESA, The Allegheny Front, WITF and WHYY.