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Bridging Barriers in Environmental STEM

800 450 Stroud Water Research Center

New Grants Support Education Programs for Underserved Youth Audiences

In July 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded $434,168 in Environmental Education Grants to 55 projects that will engage youth and adults in Environmental Justice (EJ), climate change, and/or water quality improvement, expanding their understanding of these issues in Pennsylvania and providing skills to take responsible action to protect their environment.

“This impressive list of funded projects speaks to the innovation and dedication of Pennsylvania’s environmental educators and their significant reach in helping to develop environmental stewards among Pennsylvanians of all ages and backgrounds,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

The funded projects include two projects for Stroud Water Research Center’s education department: the Brandywine Watershed Discovery Day Camp for underserved youth, and Girls-in-STEM (science, technology, education, and math) watershed education for K-12 girls. To help bridge barriers in the outdoors and in environmental STEM, both grant projects prioritize minority and economically disadvantaged populations and local EJ communities.

  Chief Quiet Thunder, Native American elder and chief of the local Lenni Lenape tribe, engages Brandywine Watershed Discovery Day Campers in the stories, culture, and heritage of indigenous peoples in the Brandywine Watershed.

Chief Quiet Thunder, Native American elder and chief of the local Lenni Lenape tribe, engages Brandywine Watershed Discovery Day Campers in the stories, culture, and heritage of indigenous peoples in the Brandywine Watershed.

The Brandywine Watershed Discovery Day Camp, an ongoing partnership between Stroud Center education staff and the Coatesville Youth Initiative, provides a summer enrichment experience in watershed education focused on STEM and building youth leadership and stewardship of the local watershed. The program is grounded in immersive experiences with the natural world that underrepresented youth might otherwise not have access to. In the 2021 program now funded by the DEP, five days of hands-on activities will prompt youth to gain environmental sensitivity that they translate into responsible environmental stewardship and civic action.

Meanwhile, DEP funding for Girls-in-STEM watershed education will expand meaningful and inclusive watershed education opportunities for K-12 girls across southeastern Pennsylvania. Throughout boots-in-the-water stream studies, on-the-water canoeing/fishing, and Girls-in-STEM capacity-building with regional partners, the girl-dedicated programming will engage and empower future female leaders in water science careers, local water quality issues, watershed stewardship, and their backyard water resources. These DEP-funded efforts will include existing programs like Trout Unlimited STREAM Girls. Excitingly, the grant also funds new education initiatives and local partnerships dedicated to closing gender gaps and growing diversity in outdoor STEM.

Stroud Center educators look forward to how the DEP funding will expand equitable environmental education for the future of fresh water!