Forest Service staff pointing to announcement board instructing group of middle school students.

NEEF Announces Awardees for 2022-2023 Forest Service Greening STEM Grant

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is proud to announce the awardees of the 2022-2023 Forest Service Greening STEM Grant.

Since 2020, NEEF has collaborated with the USDA Forest Service (FS) to fund Greening STEM Demonstration Projects for middle and high school students using components of NEEF’s Greening STEM model to design and deliver STEM programming at State & Private Forestry sites across the country.

Through the Forest Service Greening STEM Grant, both organizations seek to advance mutual STEM education goals by providing program participants with access to authentic STEM experiences that use the environment and FS’s unique mission—advocating a conservation ethic in promoting the health, productivity, diversity, and beauty of forests and associated lands—as a context for engagement.

Programs funded by these grants will utilize STEM-focused content and strategies for instruction, training, and collaboration 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.

“We are thrilled to be working with our partners at the Forest Service on this program for the third year in a row,” said Robert Sendrey, program director for K-12 environmental education at NEEF. “Their continued investment in environmental education through the Greening STEM model will help prepare students to tackle today’s environmental challenges and issues while introducing them to potential career opportunities in the field of STEM.”

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.

The following five projects have been selected to receive Greening STEM grant funding:

Creating River Stewards: Monitoring Water Quality on Public Lands

Nonprofit Partner: South Yuba River Citizens League

School Partners: Downieville Junior-Senior High, Downieville, CA; Bitney Prep Charter High School, Grass Valley, CA

This is a continuation of a pilot project funded by the 2021 Forest Service Greening STEM Grant, which trained students in water quality monitoring practices at nearby Tahoe National Forest. Through this project, students will become active stewards of their local rivers, with experiences that will cultivate their interest in STEM content and provide them with the opportunity to work alongside scientists and FS professionals.

Exploring San Juan Mountain Water Quality Through STEM

Nonprofit Partner: Mountain Studies Institute

School Partners: Silverton Middle and High Schools, Silverton, CO

Students will learn data collection techniques while working alongside professional scientists and FS staff on a water quality monitoring project in nearby San Juan National Forest. The data collected by the middle and high school students will enhance a Forest Service-funded citizen science effort to analyze recreational impacts on water quality within the Upper Animas watershed of the Columbine Ranger District. This effort will educate students in environmental stewardship using place-based learning strategies on public lands as outlined in the Greening STEM approach.

Integrating Science, Art & Music to Understand Water Cycle Science and Monitoring

Nonprofit Partner: Hubbard Brook Research Foundation

School Partners: Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, Northwood, NH; I.S. 381, New York, NY

This project will engage middle and early high school students from both rural and urban communities, including students with visual impairments, in a water quality monitoring study at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) in New Hampshire. Students will work with hydrologic data from HBEF to develop hands-on data analytic and hypothesis testing skills. They will also learn about water cycle science using a new digital platform, WaterViz, that translates real-time water data from environmental sensors at HBEF into science, art and music.

Mt. Helena Continuous Vegetation Monitoring with CR Anderson Middle School Students

Nonprofit Partner: Montana Discovery Foundation

School Partners: C.R. Anderson Middle School, Helena, MT

Since 2002, 7th grade students from C.R. Anderson Middle School have visited Mt. Helena City Park each fall to gather data on over 100 permanent plots as part of a long-term forest monitoring study. Plots are revisited every 4-6 years to take comparison measurements and photos of the sites over time. By visiting these plots, students learn forest management techniques, the impact humans have on the environment, and how they can be better stewards for their local public lands.

What is in Your Air?

Nonprofit Partner: Lichens CitiSci

School Partners: Sunny Wolf Charter School, Wolf Creek, OR

Staff from Sunny Wolf Charter School (SWCS), the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ), and the United States Forest Service (FS) in collaboration with Lichens CitiSci have developed a longitudinal citizen science environmental monitoring project called What is in your Air? The project’s goals are to enhance students' understanding about the impacts of air quality on human health, ecological health, and climate change, and to empower them to take action on protecting the air. Data from this project will be used to create a comprehensive STEM-focused curriculum for schools to use to inspire careers in science while empowering underserved youth.

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