2023-2024 USDA Forest Service Greening STEM Grants

Supported by the USDA Forest Service

Issued by the USDA Forest Service and the National Environmental Education Foundation

Proposal Due Date: April 30, 2023 at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time  

Awardees AnnouncedJune 2023

Contact: Robert Sendrey, Program Director of Environmental Education, NEEF,, Subject: FS Greening STEM Funding Question

Forest Service Support: Melissa Taggart, Environmental Education Specialist, USDA Forest Service,, Subject: FS Greening STEM Funding Question  

In 2020, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) collaborated with the USDA Forest Service (FS) to fund a Greening STEM Demonstration Project. The $10.5K sponsorship award supported a holistic STEM program that infused agency science and resources into school curricula focused on student-directed investigations of relevant topics of research, local environmental issues, or problems affecting local public lands. The funding allowed for Forest Service staff to work alongside state foresters and formal and nonformal educators to design and deliver STEM programming that engaged youth in place-based citizen science and environmental monitoring. In 2021 three additional Greening STEM grants were awarded.

The FS continues to collaborate with NEEF to build the capacity of FS units (including institutions in the State & Private Forestry network, such as state forests) to use components of NEEF’s Greening STEM model ( to design and deliver STEM programming. This year, it is anticipated that there will be $35,000 available to issue grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 each for projects during the 2023-2024 academic school year.

Through these FS Greening STEM grants, FS and NEEF seek to advance mutual STEM education goals by providing program participants with access to authentic STEM experiences that use the environment and the agency’s unique mission—to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations—as a context for engagement.

Programming funded by these grants will utilize STEM-focused content, instructional strategies, training approaches, and collaboration and dissemination technologies to assist school educators and staff in implementing and enhancing learning in and outside of the classroom, with a primary focus on FS-related subject matter. Following project completion, all resources and related content developed under these grants will be made available via NEEF’s Greening STEM Hub. For examples of successful past projects check out NEEF’s collection of project videos and educational resources.

This grant competition is open to all Forest Service units, institutions that manage public lands within the State, Private, and Tribal network, and partners. Applications must be submitted online by a Forest Service point of contact or their nonprofit partner. The application must demonstrate active and collaborative involvement by FS staff, a school or school district, and a community-based nonprofit organization.


NEEF and FS aim to increase grantee teams’ understanding of how to use STEM learning activities to address environmental challenges, engender stewardship, and forge lasting collaborations between FS sites and schools by:

  • bringing Greening STEM programming that includes citizen science or environmental monitoring activities to middle to high school students;
  • building the capacity of FS and formal and informal educators to offer high quality STEM programming that aligns with state education standards;
  • helping schools build a culture that values using the environment as a context for improving student learning and achievement;
  • stimulating educational partnerships between the FS, schools, and community-based organizations that facilitate meaningful place-based learning experiences for students;
  • engendering environmental stewardship through a learner-centered approach that encourages authentic problem-solving, collaboration, and leadership in planning and leading a learning expedition in public lands; and
  • increasing student interest in STEM content and natural resources careers through opportunities for engagement with FS science and staff.



  • March 15, 2023 – Online applications open
  • April 30, 2023 – Grant applications are due
  • May 2023 – Review and grantee selection completed
  • June 2023 – Award announcement and distribution of funding


  • July 2023 – June 2024 – Grant performance period
  • July 28, 2024 – Grantee final reports due



The following sections outline what will be expected of applicants. All applications must be submitted using NEEF’s online grants portal. If you have applied for a NEEF grant previously, please use your existing account. If in doubt, existing accounts can be searched for using a tax ID number (EIN). First time applicants will need to create an account.

Grant applications are due on April 30, 2023, by 11:59 PM PST


This grant competition is open to all Forest Service units.

  • Please note: the FS unit is the official applicant responsible for the submission of their application, all required documents, and reports.



The Greening STEM Model is an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to teaching STEM subjects that uses the natural environment and real-world challenges to engage learners and deliver high-quality STEM education. The student’s experiences and interests are at the center of learning as they explore STEM content and develop a 21st-century skill set. Throughout the experience, students can be tasked with different levels of responsibility from working as a team on a project to planning and leading a learning expedition. By having autonomy to design and explore a question of interest related to local landscapes, students are offered opportunities for authentic problem-solving while making gains in environmental knowledge and fostering a stewardship ethic.

All FS Greening STEM Projects shall include elements of two or more of the Greening STEM Design Principles. These are place-based learning, three-dimensional learning, project-based learning, and community-based learning.

  • Place-based learning elements: Students are encouraged to explore a topic of study, issue, or problem through direct first-hand experience; collaboration between students interested in the same topic of study, issue, or problem is encouraged; facilitators (FS Project Lead, partners, educators) serve as connectors to existing ways to involve learners with the topics of interest.
  • Three-dimensional learning elements: Exploration of anchoring phenomena encourages students to question assumptions and current understanding; STEM practices are used to motivate problem-solving; exploration of the anchoring phenomena leads to disciplinary core ideas; cross-cutting concepts are used to connect the anchoring phenomena to real world events.
  • Project-based learning elements: The learners are intellectually challenged by their project work; the nature of their project engaged learners over the course of days, weeks, or even months; real-world authenticity is simulated by the selection of tools, techniques, and technology used to explore the topic of study, issue, or problem; the students have an opportunity to share their work with audiences beyond their classroom.
  • Community-based learning elements: The topic of inquiry is explored within a local cultural context; the learner is encouraged to understand the impacts of power and privilege involved in the topic of inquiry, issue, or problem; the learner is asked to consider which cultural knowledge sets and traditions are accounted for in the topic of inquiry, as well which are not and the impacts exclusion mat have on current understanding of the topic, issue, or problem; students explore the role of equity in solutions that are acceptable for the affected community or communities.


It is anticipated that there will be $35,000 available to issue grants for projects implemented during the 2023-2024 academic school year. Applicants may apply for a total request of $5,000 - $10,000.


Strong applications will include the following:

  • Description of the goal of the proposed project.
  • Description of the target audience, including grade level(s) and demographics.
  • Description of the plans for collaboration between FS, partnering school[s], and (optional) nonprofit organization around the proposed project.
  • Description of the citizen science or environmental monitoring project, including what STEM skills students will learn as a result of participating in the project. Description of one or more of the pre-field activities that will prepare students for one or more field experiences to be followed by one or more post field activities.
  • Description demonstrates a commitment to Greening STEM Design Principles.
  • Proposed projects must include the following partners:
    • Forest Service: This includes National Forest System sites, Research & Development stations, as well as agencies managing public lands within the State & Private Forestry network (such as State Forests). Please note that all projects must have a Forest Service representative, including those involving a State & Private Forestry network agency. The Forest Service may not receive and manage funds but should be involved in the application and coordination of project activities.
    • School or School District: Projects must work with middle or high school students. Applications are required to provide a current letter of commitment from the participating school or school district. School districts may receive and manage funds.
    • Optional/Additional Partners: For example, a Nonprofit Organization working at the Community Level: May receive and manage funds, as well as provide assistance and support for project activities.
  • A strong preference will be given to projects that:
    • Involve one or more educators in the participating school[s].
    • Engage schools or school districts in underserved communities.


The following sections outline what will be expected of those who have successfully applied and have been selected as grantees.


Funding for this grant will be distributed to the school or nonprofit partner as a single payment, unless otherwise stipulated in the funding agreement.


NEEF will conduct virtual or in-person site visits during the grant period. These visits will be used as part of the evaluation process.


NEEF will be evaluating projects based on the following educator/staff and student participant outcomes:

  • Educators/staff and students demonstrate understanding of STEM concepts, the scientific inquiry and environmental monitoring processes, and their applications
  • Educators/staff demonstrate confidence in the ability to lead environmental monitoring and citizen science activities/discussions
  • Students demonstrate confidence in their ability to participate in environmental monitoring and citizen science activities/discussions
  • Students demonstrate interest in pursuing or participating in classes, activities or discussions related to general STEM and/or environmental science
  • Students demonstrate motivation to pursue additional STEM-related classes, activities and/or careers



All applications must be submitted through our online system. For all other questions or problems, please contact us at Please type “Forest Service Greening STEM Grant” in the subject line of your email.

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Grant Support From:

USDA Forest Service
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