published September 26, 2012

New Environmental Protection Agency Grant Will Support "STEM Mastery Through Great Lakes Stewardship"

Glenn Odenbrett


We are pleased to announce that the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has received an environmental education grant of $150,000 from Region V of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a project entitled "STEM Mastery Through Great Lakes Stewardship." The grant will enable institutions from several of the clusters established in our GLISTEN project to expand undergraduate environmental service-learning programs on college campuses in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We anticipate that EPA support will enable the engagement at least 2,000 students in restoration and stewardship activities benefiting the Great Lakes ecosystem.


Through the awarding of sub-grants, the Great Lakes Stewardship project will help higher education institutions build the capacity of resource-strapped community-based environmental organizations to improve the water quality of Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie by engaging undergraduates in environmental service-learning activities that:

- prevent pollution by chemicals of emerging concern such as pharmaceuticals,

- combat invasive species,

- promote near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off, and

- restore endangered wetlands and other habitats.


These goals are priorities of the EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through 2014. As such, they also offer rich curricular applications for learning key concepts in STEM disciplines such as biology, chemistry, geology, engineering, and environmental studies. We expect that, by working intensely on these issues, students will develop skills and capacities that can lead to future career opportunities in Great Lakes restoration and stewardship.


Key to successful implementation of the project will be a unique corps of student leaders called undergraduate stewardship liaisons who will facilitate the environmental service-learning activities of their peers and promote long-term campus/community partnerships that sustain these activities. Through project-related career development opportunities, these liaisons will gain the knowledge, abilities, and skills to become the future leaders of Great Lakes ecosystem stewardship efforts. The success of this approach to student leadership development is described in greater detail in the report on the Healing Our Waters conference also in this issue, please click here.


During the 19-month project period, faculty, students, and community partners engaged in the project will contribute to and benefit from a Great-Lakes-wide virtual community (www.greatlakesed.net) that will disseminate best practices and build a multi-state network of undergraduate environmental education practitioners and future Great Lakes stewards.


The "STEM Mastery Through Great Lakes Stewardship" project will be coordinated by Glenn C. Odenbrett, Senior Scholar for STEM and Environmental Service-Learning at the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and current GLISTEN project director. Glenn can be contacted at glenn.odenbrett@ncsce.net.