February 28, 2019
Project Learning Tree has awarded 23 GreenWorks! grants to schools and community organizations across the United States for environmental service-learning projects. Nearly 5,000 students in 19 states are working on a variety of projects that they help design and lead to improve the environment.
“These grants help students take action for sustainability in a changing world that’s being impacted by climate change,” said James McGirt, Manager of Service Learning and Community Engagement. “From kindergarten to high school, young people are learning they can make a difference as environmental stewards and leaders in their community.”
GreenWorks! projects encourage students to apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world. Students use their creativity and imagination and develop other 21st century skills such as collaboration, teamwork, and critical thinking to problem solve an environmental issue in their community. The projects provide students with opportunities to employ STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and introduce students to green jobs and careers in forestry and natural resources management.
This year, students from all grade levels are working to green their schools and improve forests, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. For example, with GreenWorks! support:
- In Old Town, Maine, Cub Scouts and students in the YMCA afterschool program will work together to raise Atlantic salmon from eggs and then release the mature fish into the Penobscot River. Youth will learn about the life cycle of salmon and why the Atlantic salmon is endangered through presentations and a field trip to a local hatchery.
- In Duluth, Minnesota, 5th and 6th grade students from North Shore Community School will assess the health of their 25-acre school forest and threats from invasive species. They will use non-chemical means to control invasive buckthorn, such as pulling small trees by hand and using weed wrenches for larger trees and “buckthorn baggies” to block light to prevent re-sprouting. In stands of balsam fir impacted by spruce budworm, students will work with the Department of Natural Resources to cut down and burn infected trees and replant trees to restore the area.
- In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a school-wide initiative at La Academia Partnership Charter School will involve all middle and high school students in making their school more green. Projects include constructing a butterfly / pollinator garden with native plant species; installation of rain barrels to collect water; an audit of the school’s light fixtures; and improvements to the school’s recycling program.
Since 1992, PLT has distributed more than $1 million to fund more than 1,200 PLT GreenWorks! projects in communities across the country. The USDA Forest Service helped provide funding for GreenWorks! grants this year.