We have big news: Urban Green Lab has been awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education grant for $91,000 over two years! The purpose of the EPA program is to “support locally-focused environmental education projects that increase public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues and provide the skills that participants in its funded projects need to make informed environmental decisions and take responsible actions toward the environment.” With assistance from partners Nissan North America, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), and various departments within Vanderbilt University, Urban Green Lab’s mobile lab will serve as a mobile science and sustainability field trip outfitted with engaging exhibits and activities and interactive green technologies. The lab will launch in MNPS during the spring semester of 2016.
MNPS students are the primary beneficiaries of the sustainability education from the mobile lab; at least 1,000 students will be reached by fall 2017. Outcomes including improved academic engagement and improved environmental literacy will be measured. The EPA funding will also allow Urban Green Lab to competitively disseminate sub-grants to different classrooms and teachers who would like to delve deeper into sustainability education and projects.
“We are excited at the opportunity to connect our students with scientists in higher education while empowering our educators to develop projects that will further develop our students’ STEM experiences in the context of sustainability,” said Kristopher Elliott, MNPS Director of STEM.
SustainVU, the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach, and Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science are all partnering to support the mobile lab project and provide real-world learning opportunities for their students. The EPA funding will allow Vanderbilt student volunteers and interns to facilitate mobile lab site visits, gaining valuable field experience and boosting the project’s success.
Thanks especially to the hard work of AmeriCorps VISTAs Erin Luce and Lexie Lipham. The VISTA mission is capacity building, and with the acquisition of this grant, they are certainly ensuring that Urban Green Lab's work will be supported once their term is complete.