Environmental Literacy Grants Program
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In February 2015, NOAA’s Office of Education issued a request for applications for projects designed to strengthen the public’s and/or K-12 students’ environmental literacy to enable informed decision-making necessary for community resilience to extreme weather events and environmental changes. Projects will build the environmental literacy necessary for community resilience by focusing on geographic awareness and an understanding of Earth systems and the threats and vulnerabilities that are associated with a community’s location and will be based on the latest science about the threats and vulnerabilities facing communities and consider socio- economic and ecological factors. NOAA’s scientific data, data access tools, data visualizations, and/or other physical and intellectual assets will be incorporated into all funded projects.
Six institutions received awards, summarized below, in fiscal year 2015 under NOAA's Strengthening the Public’s and/or K-12 Students’ Environmental Literacy for Community Resilience to Extreme Weather Events and Environmental Changes competition (NOAA-SEC-OED-2015-2004408) totalling approximately 2.75 million dollars. For more information regarding specific awards, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Total Project Funding*
|Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing The Next Generation for A Changing Planet
Groundwork Hudson Valley
|Science Center Public Forums: Community Engagement for Environmental Literacy, Improved Resilience, and Decision-Making
Arizona State University
|Community Resiliency Informed by Science and Experience (C-RISE)
Gulf of Maine Research Institute
|From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems
Nisqually River Foundation
|Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement: Environmental Literacy Through Climate Change Discussions (PLACE)
|Learn, Prepare, Act: Resilient Citizens Make Resilient Communities
The Science Museum of Virginia
*Excludes matching funds, but includes other support not provided through the award
Title: Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing The Next Generation for A Changing Planet
Institutions: Groundwork Hudson Valley
PIs: Rick Magder
Abstract: This project, “Global, Local, Coastal”, will be led by Groundwork Hudson Valley and Sarah Lawrence College, to integrate and expand the work of three award-winning environmental education centers in Yonkers, NY – The Science Barge, Ecohouse and the Center for the Urban River (CURB). Its primary objective is to prepare low-income students for the impact of a changing climate so that they can participate both personally and professionally in a world in which these issues are increasingly prevalent. It reaches an audience that is not well served by traditional programs and is most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Over the course of two years, the project will serve 600-700 middle and high school youth, primarily from the Yonkers public school system, through a new, integrated curriculum that teaches about these issues from multiple perspectives. Beyond its impact on students, the project will have a broader impact on people in our region. Together, the Barge, Ecohouse and CURB are visited by close to 10,000 people each year and new exhibits will reinforce key themes related to resiliency and adaptation. Other partners include NOAA’s Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Lamont Doherty, and the Center for Climate Change in the Urban Northeast. The state’s NY Rising Program and Yonkers Public Schools are key partners too. The project will be carried out in a community that has been severely affected by extreme weather in the last decade, including three hurricanes. Outcomes will help create “an informed society to anticipate and respond to climate and its impacts.” It also addresses NOAA’s goal of a “Weather-Ready Nation,” and “Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies.”
Title: Science Center Public Forums: Community Engagement for Environmental Literacy, Improved Resilience, and Decision-Making
Institutions: Arizona State University
PIs: Dan Sarewitz, David Sittenfeld, Ira Bennett, and Mahmud Farooque
Abstract: By engaging diverse publics in immersive and deliberative learning forums, this three-year project will use NOAA data and expertise to strengthen community resilience and decision-making around a variety of climate and weather-related hazards across the United States. Led by Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes and the Museum of Science Boston, the project will develop citizen forums hosted by regional science centers to create a new, replicable model for learning and engagement. These forums, to be hosted initially in Boston and Phoenix and then expanded to an additional six sites around the U.S., will facilitate public deliberation on real-world issues of concern to local communities, including rising sea levels, extreme precipitation, heat waves, and drought. The forums will identify and clarify citizen values and perspectives while creating stakeholder networks in support of local resilience measures. The forum materials developed in collaboration with NOAA will foster better understanding of environmental changes and best practices for improving community resiliency, and will create a suite of materials and case studies adaptable for use by science centers, teachers, and students. With regional science centers bringing together the public, scientific experts, and local officials, the project will create resilience-centered partnerships and a framework for learning and engagement that can be replicated nationwide.
Title: From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems
Title: Community Resiliency Informed by Science and Experience (C-RISE)
Institutions: Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI)
PIs: Leigh Peake, Riley Morse
Abstract: C-RISE will create a replicable, customizable model for supporting citizen engagement with scientific data and reasoning to increase community resiliency under conditions of sea level rise and storm surge. Working with NOAA partners, we will design, pilot, and deliver interactive digital learning experiences that use the best available NOAA data and tools to engage participants in the interdependence of humans and the environment, the cycles of observation and experiment that advance science knowledge, and predicted changes for sea level and storm frequency. These scientific concepts and principles will be brought to human scale through real-world planning challenges developed with our city and government partners in Portland and South Portland, Maine. Over the course of the project, thousands of citizens from nearby neighborhoods and middle school students from across Maine’s sixteen counties, will engage with scientific data and forecasts specific to Portland Harbor—Maine’s largest seaport and the second largest oil port on the east coast. Interactive learning experiences for both audiences will be delivered through GMRI’s Cohen Center for Interactive Learning—a state-of-the-art exhibit space—in the context of facilitated conversations designed to emphasize how scientific reasoning is an essential tool for addressing real and pressing community and environmental issues. The learning experiences will also be available through a public web portal, giving all area residents access to the data and forecasts. The C-RISE web portal will be available to other coastal communities with guidance for loading locally relevant NOAA data into the learning experience. An accompanying guide will support community leaders and educators to embed the interactive learning experiences effectively into community conversations around resiliency. This project is aligned with NOAA’s Education Strategic Plan 2015-2035 by forwarding environmental literacy and using emerging technologies.
Institutions: Nisqually River Foundation
PIs: Justin Hall
Abstract: The Nisqually River Foundation, with robust community partnerships with the Chehalis Basin Education Consortium (CBEC), South Sound Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (SSG), Capital Region Educational Service District 113, and Mount Rainier Institute, will work with NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region’s Education and Outreach Specialist, Peggy Foreman to implement a new project: From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems. The objectives of the project are threefold: host three Summer Teachers Institutes for participating teachers; develop a Climate Resilient Youth Leadership Program for 12-18 year old students; and, produce and implement clearly identified Action Projects for Community Resiliency for the purpose of conserving local ecosystems and increasing resiliency in their communities to extreme weather events and changing climate. The project aims to result in teachers and students who are well versed in their region’s geographical threats of receding glaciers, extreme weather/flooding, rising sea levels, alterations of river flow and ocean acidification, and inspire them to make well informed decisions. Ultimately, over three years, 75 teachers and their 1,875 students, and 140 student leaders from the Cascade Range in the east, Nisqually River and Delta in the north, south to Lewis County, and west to the Pacific Ocean in Grays Harbor County will become more engaged in shaping the region’s future through increased informed decision making and related direct actions. The project includes an additional collaboration with the Pacific Northwest Climate Leaders web-based social media campaign, which will engage participating teachers and students in becoming more knowledgeable in local, geographical threats. Project participants will also plant 20,000 native trees and shrubs to restore riparian and coastal habitats, decrease carbon footprint through the project’s Cool Schools Challenge, and monitor local stream flows, temperatures and water quality, building on a previous U.S. EPA Targeted Watershed Grant. The project will utilize NOAA’s assets to provide participating teachers and students with accurate, relevant and timely scientific information. Specifically, the project will use ClimateChangeLIVE, a distance learning website with a education resources. The project will also use the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit which provides scientific tools, information, and expertise to help people manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events. The toolkit will be used to provide guidance to identify problems, determine vulnerabilities, investigate options, evaluate risks and costs and take action. NOAA’s mission will be supported as teachers and students share their knowledge in their classrooms, with school districts, at community meetings, and through social media.
Title: Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement: Environmental Literacy Through Climate Change Discussions (PLACE)
Institutions: Califa Group
PIs: Susan Hildreth, Meighan Maloney
Abstract: Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement: Environmental Literacy Through Climate Change Discussions (PLACE) is a nationally disseminated, locally-based program that engages adults in geographic-specific discussions and critical thinking about resilient responses to environmental changes and extreme weather events, through programs in their local public libraries. Historically, opportunities to increase adults’ environmental literacy have typically been available only through established science centers, and/or tended to target citizens who are already interested in environmental topics and issues. While science center hosted events and exhibits are important, reaching new and underserved audiences is imperative. PLACE engages new audiences — in their own libraries and with their own communities — by discussing their challenges, threats and helping their communities prepare for and respond to climate change and extreme weather events. PLACE will help rural and under-resourced communities build resilience to their region's’ unique vulnerabilities and threats through the following: (1) Select 50 rural and under-resourced libraries across the United States, (2) Create environmental literacy materials for library programs and professional development materials for librarians, (3) Provide professional development to participating librarians, developing their environmental literacy and fostering the use of NOAA assets for library patron services, (4) Assist libraries in finding and partnering with NOAA scientists, (5) Support libraries implementing a three-part, environmental literacy book/video/discussion program series for adults, complemented by a curated collection of NOAA assets that align with each program’s topic, and (6) Perform a summative evaluation of the impact and outcomes of the program. The project has a sustainability plan and a network in place to support the activities in an ongoing, national model for years beyond the initial project funding. PLACE leverages the model and resources of an earlier, similar program, Pushing the Limits (funded by the National Science Foundation), which demonstrated significant success in raising adults’ general science literacy in rural libraries across the United States. The project is being created, disseminated and evaluated through a partnership of The Califa Group (a California library consortium) and the National Weather Service, working in tandem with NOAA’s Office of Education.
Title: Learn, Prepare, Act: Resilient Citizens Make Resilient Communities
Institutions: The Science Museum of Virginia
PIs: Richard Conti, Eugene Maurakis
Abstract: Over three years beginning in January 2016, the Science Museum of Virginia will launch a new suite of public programming entitled “Learn, Prepare, Act – Resilient Citizens Make Resilient Communities.” This project will leverage federally funded investments at the Museum, including a NOAA-funded Science On a Sphere® platform, National Fish and Wildlife-funded Rainkeepers exhibition, and the Department of Energy-funded EcoLab, to develop public programming and digital media messaging to help the general public understand climate change and its impacts on Virginia’s communities and give them tools to become resilient to its effects. Home to both the delicate Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and a highly vulnerable national shoreline, Virginia is extremely susceptible to the effects of climate change and extreme weather events. It is vital that citizens across the Commonwealth understand and recognize the current and future impacts that climate variability will have on Virginia’s economy, natural environment, and human health so that they will be better prepared to respond. In collaboration with NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, Virginia Institute for Marine Science, Public Broadcasting Service/National Public Radio affiliates, and Resilient Virginia, the Museum will use data from the National Climatic Data Center and Virginia Coastal Geospatial and Educational Mapping System to develop and deliver new resiliency-themed programming. This will include presentations for Science On a Sphere® and large format digital Dome theaters, 36 audio and video digital media broadcast pieces, two lecture series, community preparedness events, and a Resiliency Checklist and Certification program. This project supports NOAA’s mission goals to advance environmental literacy and share its vast knowledge and data with others.
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