SRU, Economics PA team up to create “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” camp
Slippery Rock University President Cheryl Norton and Fritz Heinemann, president and CEO of Economics Pennsylvania, take a moment to enjoy one of SRU's environmental landmarks. EconomicsPA is partnering with SRU to develop a “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” camp for high school students.
Sept. 24, 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will use a $30,333 grant from EconomicsPennsylvania to create a weeklong "Healthy Planet, Healthy People" camp for high school students next summer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency environmental education grants program will contribute $91,000 to the project.
"We plan to involve 20 school districts in the region and will be providing participating schools with $1,000-$2000 grants as seed money for a community project created by their students to help solve an environmental problem in their area," said Paul Scanlon, special assistant to the president and head of the grant program.
EconomicsPennsylvania, SRU's partner in the camp project, was launched as a not-for-profit in 1950. Its board includes representatives from business, education, labor, agriculture and government.
Fritz Heinemann, EconomicsPennsylvania president and CEO, said the partnership between his educational organization and Slippery Rock University was a significant milestone in providing a unique hands-on learning environmental experience for teachers and students. The program, he noted, would have a meaningful impact on the awareness and sensitivity of young people for the need to protect natural resources and identify ways in which to eliminate specific environmental problems in their individual communities.
"Our association with Slippery Rock University strengthens our own ongoing endeavors in promoting positive environmental programs for the young people we already serve and opens new doors of opportunity for meeting an urgent societal issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant demonstrates the recognition that two organizations, working together for a noble cause, can jointly pursue a project that will ultimately benefit people and neighborhoods throughout the Commonwealth. We are enormously proud to be part of this very special program," Heinemann said.
The SRU-hosted weeklong camp program is tentatively scheduled for June 14-18, 2016, with sessions at the McKeever Environmental Center at Sandy Lake, the Jennings Environmental Education Center, Moraine State Park, McConnell's Mills and SRU's Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research.
"SRU's experience in managing the McKeever Center indicates that immersive, multi-day environmental education opportunities for young people greatly diminish after they graduate from elementary school and enter secondary school," Scanlon said. "To address this problem, SRU proposed the 'Healthy Planet, Healthy People' project for high school students as a way of motivating older teens to learn more about environmental issues and how they can help solve them," he said.
He said the overnight camp would not only provide high school students with fun and educational experiences, but also act as a community project incubator by preparing participants to develop and lead environmental education/stewardship projects when they return to their local communities.
"To help others wishing to replicate this type of program, a highlight video of the program activities, including a poster session summarizing students' proposed community projects, will be created and distributed via YouTube as part of the overall project," Scanlon said.
"SRU's experience in hosting McKeever Center camping programs and other high school summer camps will be applied to this program to create a dynamic, fun-filled and affordable environmental education summer camp that includes classroom instruction, leadership training, immersive field experiences and ample opportunities to interact informally with camp program staff and other educators," he said.
Tuition for the weeklong camp will be $100.
School teachers who agree to help recruit students, identify local organizations offering volunteer opportunities for environmental stewardship projects, attend the camp as coaches and guide the students in developing and implementing post-camp local stewardship projects will be offered free camp attendance and a $200 per day stipend.
Each participating school district will receive funding to be used as seed money to kick-start local environmental education/stewardship projects proposed by their students.
"We have outlined a number of goals and objectives, including providing high school students with an immersive, educational and recreational summer camp experience that helps them better understand and enjoy the benefits of our natural environment; increasing awareness of local environmental problems, including those caused directly or indirectly by climate change; increasing awareness of the environmental organizations working within their local communities to solve environmental problems; educating students on the scientific principles of ecological sustainability and uses a combination of formal leadership training and informal mentoring to develop students' critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills; and increasing environmental stewardship through encouraging short-term volunteerism at local environmental organizations and through camp attendees' developing their own environmental education/stewardship projects that can then be implemented when they return to their local communities," Scanlon said.
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