EPA Training Grants Create Job Opportunities Across the Country

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the selection of 19 communities in 17 states and territories for approximately $3.6 million in Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grants. Each grantee will receive up to $192,300 to operate environmental training programs to clean up Brownfields sites in economically distressed communities.

“EPA’s job training program advances economic development by creating job opportunities for workers to serve in their own communities,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Many graduates—including ex-offenders and veterans– secure meaningful employment that protects the environment and promotes economic development in some of our neediest communities.”

On Friday, May 22, Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced one of the EWDJT grants to St. Louis Community College to highlight the cross disciplinary environmental training EPA supports under the program. With the grant funding, St. Louis Community College plans to train 69 unemployed and underemployed individuals, and place 55 of those in full-time employment in the environmental field. Each student will receive 240 hours of core training in hazardous waste remediation; lead and asbestos abatement worker; mold remediation; lead renovator, repair, and painting; underground storage tank removal; stormwater management; and other advanced safety and ecosystem restoration coursework.

Participants who complete the training will earn 19 federal, state, or university certifications. St. Louis Community College is targeting underemployed and unemployed residents of the St. Louis metro area, including St. Louis City and County in Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois. Recruitment efforts will focus on individuals living in areas affected by hazardous waste sites. Key partners include St. Louis Development Corporation, Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council, Connections to Success, St. Louis City and County Workforce Investment Boards, YouthBuild of St. Louis, among other environmental and community-based organizations.

The EWDJT program provides communities the flexibility to deliver training that meets the varying local labor market demands of the environmental sector in their communities. Graduates develop a broader set of skills that improves their ability to secure, not just short term contractual work, but full-time, sustainable employment in the environmental field. As a result of this funding, unemployed and under-employed individuals acquire training and certifications in a variety of environmental skills, such as: lead and asbestos abatement, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, environmental health and safety, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, brownfields assessment and cleanup, electronics recycling, Superfund site-specific cleanup, Freon removal, emergency response, oil spill cleanup, native plant re-vegetation, and integrated pest management. As a result of this training, some graduates of the EWDJT program secured employment in activities related to the response and cleanup of the World Trade Centers in New York following the attacks of September 11, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, as well as the BP Oil Spill. Since the program’s inception in 1998, EPA has funded 256 job training grants exceeding $54 million. More than 13,900 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 10,000 have secured employment in the environmental field with an average hourly starting wage of $14.18. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of 72 percent.

The EWDJT program was developed in the 1990s, as a result of recommendations raised by environmental justice leaders suggesting that the EPA support environmental training to help benefit local residents, and from an EPA realization that often times local residents were not benefitting from local remediation and cleanup activities due to the lack of a locally trained workforce in their communities. Rather than filling local, environmental jobs with professionals from distant cities, these grants help to provide an opportunity for local, unemployed residents to secure careers that make a visible impact cleaning up their communities. Graduates of the program obtain employment within their communities, areas which may be affected by blight, economic disinvestment, and solid and hazardous waste sites.

These grants support training programs that recruit, train, and place unemployed and under-employed residents of waste-affected communities with the skills and certifications needed to secure employment in the environmental field. Projects are funded based on the comprehensiveness of the training curriculum, the likelihood that graduates will obtain employment, strong public-private partnerships, and diverse community-based organization and employer involvement.

EWDJT grants are awarded to a broad range of communities with multiple indicators of need, including communities affected by the closure of manufacturing facilities, communities affected by natural disasters, communities designated as Housing and Urban Development “Promise Zone Communities,” (http://www.hud.gov/promisezones) Economic Development Administration “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” designated communities (http://www.eda.gov/challenges/imcp), and HUD/Department of Transportation/EPA “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” (http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov) designated communities. The program also serves unemployed, dislocated workers who have lost their jobs as a result of manufacturing plant closures. By gaining training through the EWDJT program, these individuals have re-entered the workforce, and many have secured employment working at other manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. Some graduates have also participated in the cleanup and remediation of former manufacturing and auto plants, such as the cleanup of the “Chevy in the Hole” site in Flint, Mich.

Grantees announced to receive funding today, include:

  • Zender Environmental Health and Research Group (Anchorage) Alaska
  • Fresno Area Workforce Investment Board, Calif.
  • City of Richmond, Calif.
  • Denver Indian Center, Inc., Colo.
  • West End Neighborhood House (Wilmington) Del.
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville, Fla.
  • OAI, Inc. (Chicago) Ill.
  • Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board (Lawrence) Mass.
  • St. Louis Community College, Mo.
  • CLIMB Community Development Corporation (Biloxi) Miss.
  • The Fortune Society, Inc. (Long Island City) N.Y.
  • Rose State College (Midwest City) Okla.
  • Oregon Tradeswomen (Portland) Ore.
  • PathStone Corporation, P.R.
  • Tarrant County College District, Texas
  • Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps (Racine) Wisc.
  • Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Wisc.
  • Coalfield Development Corporation (Wayne County) W.Va.
  • Groundwork Providence, R.I.

For more information on brownfields grants, including EWDJT grants, by state, please visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/bf_factsheets/index.cfm

For more information on EPA’s brownfields program, please visit http://www.epa.gov/brownfields

Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology

Download the case study science lesson.

This case study examines a variety of biological factors that may have been involved in the 2013 dolphin “unusual mortality event” (UME) on the East Coast of the United States. The story follows a news reporter and four different scientists who are preparing their notes for speaking at a public hearing about the dolphin die-off event. After reading the story, students assume the roles of these scientists and use the jigsaw method to gather, analyze, and share information.  Due to the interdisciplinary nature of environmental toxicology, this case study exposes students to four main topics: ecology of ecosystems, endocrine system/chemical messaging, immune system function, and virus biology. The case also emphasizes the importance of considering an issue from multiple viewpoints since even scientists can sometimes be biased to their field of interest when proposing explanatory hypotheses. This case was originally designed for an undergraduate introductory biology or environmental science course. With some adaptation it may also be suitable for an advanced high school biology class.

Marine Debris & Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit for Colleges & Universities

Download the document.

Many plastic food service ware items originate on  college and university campuses — in cafeterias, snack rooms, cafes, and eateries with take-out dining options. That’s why we created this Campus Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit. The toolkit was piloted at three University of California (UC) campuses–Santa Barbara (UCSB), San Diego (UCSD), and San Francisco (UCSF) — but we designed each of these steps to be replicable and easily implemented by other colleges and universities around the country. By following the steps in the toolkit, you can help your college or university reduce plastic waste through source reduction–the process of minimizing the amount of plastic used. Together, we can cut down on plastic waste and reduce the amount of marine debris polluting the planet’s oceans and waterways.

A Reason to Be Optimistic: The New Generation of Sustainability Professionals

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

The task before sustainability educators is to take the inspiring energy and enthusiasm of our students and channel it into an effort to develop the conceptual and analytic tools needed to conduct high quality management and policy analyses. I’ve been involved in this work for many years and I find that while my students often start their studies as advocates and activists, many complete their studies as analysts and professionals. They still care deeply about the planet and its wellbeing, but they have the tools to speak truth to power and to even achieve power themselves.

AASHE Sustainability Awards Call for Applications

Applications for the Tenth Annual AASHE Sustainability Awards are now being accepted through June 11. During the past ten years, AASHE has recognized leaders from over 60 campuses from across the U.S. and Canada for outstanding ideas and initiatives that are furthering the higher education sustainability transformation.

Award winners will receive one complimentary AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo pass, one invitation to a special reception during the 2015 conference, an opportunity to present your winning submission at the 2015 conference and during the 2016 AASHE Award Winners Webinar Series, and featured in Sustainability: Journal of Record.

There are three categories of submissions.

  • The Campus Sustainability Case Study honors campus projects at AASHE member institutions that promote sustainability in any sector including operations, education, administration and engagement.
  • The Student Research on Campus Sustainability award seeks to honor students from AASHE member institutions who are advancing the higher education sustainability transformation with focused research of any length.
  • The Student Sustainability Leadership award honors student teams from AASHE member institutions who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability efforts.

Apply today for a chance to join this celebrated group and receive recognition and complimentary registration to the AASHE 2015 Conference & Expo. Awards will be presented during the opening ceremony on Oct. 25 in Minneapolis, Minn. Application deadline is June 11, 2015.

NHL seeks sustainability on ice

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Think about a typical ice rink and all the energy and resources it requires. There is the need for lighting, restrooms, locker rooms, concessions, heating, cooling and obviously the ice. The NHL has been working to reduce its environmental impact. Many of the same efforts can also be implemented at your local rink.

AASHE Research in Sustainability Webinar Series – 2015

Our urgent sustainability challenges require integrated, cross-disciplinary thinking. By researching sustainability issues and refining theories and concepts, higher education institutions can lead the transition to a sustainable future and continue help the world understand sustainability challenges while developing new technologies, strategies, and approaches to address those challenges.

In recognition of the importance of emerging scholarship in sustainability, AASHE is pleased to announce the “Research in Sustainability” Webinar Series which precedes the 2015 AASHE Conference & Expo’s new “Research” track dedicated to workshops and presentations about sustainability-oriented research.

Through the “Research in Sustainability” Webinar Series, AASHE is inviting you to explore the current models of research in sustainability, the future of engaged sustainability education, and how to institutionalize research in sustainability. Sustainability officers, faculty, researchers, students, chief academic officers, staff of teaching and learning centers and others are invited to participate in the conversation about breaking down barriers and building coalitions to support institution-wide research in sustainability and key innovation happening in curricular and co-curricular activities. You can also email your questions and thoughts in advance to webinars@aashe.org.

  • Webinar #1 (May 20, 2015, 3:00-4:30PM ET) From Classroom to Community and Planet: The Future of Engaged Learning and Research in Sustainability features Rod Parnell – moderator (Professor of Earth Science & Environmental Sustainability and Coordinator of Academic Sustainability Programs at Northern Arizona University), Debra Rowe (Faculty in Sustainable Energies and Behavioral Sciences at Oakland Community College) and Steve Boss (Director of Environmental Dynamics Program and Sustainability Academic Programs at University of Arkansas). This first webinar in the series will briefly present an overview of different models of research, applied learning and community engagement in sustainability – not just learning taking place in the classroom or laboratory but engagement at various levels on campus and in the community. Panelists will also share some of the professional organizations with which they are affiliated that provide resources for improving co-curricular activities. The formal presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion with participants’ input on developing and improving community-based research and service learning. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the conversation about key innovations happening in curricular and co-curricular activities related to research in sustainability. For more information and to register, please click here.
  • Webinar #2 (June 10, 2015, 3:00-4:30PM ET) Institutionalizing Research in Sustainability in the Context of Competing University Priorities features Jacob Park – moderator (Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy at Green Mountain College), Debra Rowe (Faculty in Sustainable Energies and Behavioral Sciences at Oakland Community College) and David Auston (Executive Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a member of the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council). They will continue the conversation started in the first webinar and will focus on different models and strategies that support integrating research with operations in the light of competing university priorities and tips on institutionalizing research in sustainability. The formal presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion with participants’ input on how to break barriers, where to find allies and how to build coalitions to to support institution-wide research in sustainability. For more information and to register, please click here.