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[ “Mini Grants” Will Send PA Students to the River ]

Seeing, hearing and touching is believing. Nearly a half-million dollars has been added to a “mini grant” program to get students in grades K-12 interested in caring about the rivers and streams in Pennsylvania connected to the Chesapeake Bay. The money comes from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.

Office Director Peyton Robertson says he’s seen firsthand how “action learning” inspires stewardship.

“Getting young people out in the field and letting them hold a crab or a fish in their hand, and understand the connections we have to the ecosystem that those critters live in, really brings it home for ’em.”

Robertson says that, while many projects focus on field trips and streamside testing and restoration, there’s a classroom component, too.

“Come back and reflect on the ‘so what?’ of that. That is, what do I need to think about in terms of actions I take and decisions that I make every day, that might affect what I saw?”

Grants of up to $5000 are available to schools, organizations and agencies focused on K-12 environmental education. The money is available in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. It used to be limited to Maryland and D.C.

The grants can also be used to provide environmental education professional development for teachers.

Grant applications are being accepted through January 12, 2013.

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