Yampatika partnering with agencies to provide mini-grants for environmental education | SteamboatToday.com

Yampatika partnering with agencies to provide mini-grants for environmental education

Yampatika Naturalist Tobias Bank

— Groups interested in providing environmental education in Northwest Colorado have until Monday to apply for mini-grants offered through the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA is partnering with Steamboat Springs environmental stewardship organization, Yampatika, and the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education to offer at least seven mini-grants of up to $5,000 to support environmental literacy programs that are equivalent to Yampatika’s kindergarten through fifth-grade program or fill a programming gap at another grade level.

Established in 1992, non-profit Yampatika serves children and adults in Northwest Colorado with outdoor environmental learning opportunities, including teacher trainings and a curriculum taught to more than 1,000 local students each year.

The grants will help strengthen environmental education in Colorado, a state which passed environmental literacy guidelines in 2012, but didn’t provide funding or implementation strategies to deliver the curriculum to students, according to Sonja Macys, executive director of Yampatika.

“The idea was that the state would pass the initiative, but would leave it up to the school districts to implement,” Macys said. “Some school districts, like ours (in Routt County) are really doing a fantastic job, and other school districts just don’t even know where to begin.”

Grants for groups willing to implement standards-based, assessment-driven programming could help fill gaps in environmental education, Macys said.

The grants are available for education agencies, colleges or universities and nonprofits located in Routt, Moffat, Jackson, Grand, Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, Garfield, Rio Blanco and Mesa counties.

A teacher’s school district, an educator’s nonprofit organization or a faculty member’s college may apply, but not individual teachers or faculty members, according to the grant request document at caee.org/minigrants.

Macys said that, while Yampatika covers environmental education curriculum for kindergarten through fifth graders in Routt County, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps provides science school for sixth grade, there is no cohesive environmental literacy curriculum for seventh through twelfth graders locally.

Despite the lack of a formal curriculum, many teachers are using their own methods to provide environmental education, Macys said.

“There isn’t a specific curriculum, though our teachers are doing some great work,” Macys said. “Our teachers just believe in it, and they’re fantastic.”

Applications for the grants are due by the end of the night Monday, and can be submitted to nwgrants@caee.org. More information is available on the CAEE site.

Grant requests will be reviewed by 16 people from across the state, and awards will be announced by August.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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