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Congratulations to our 2020 Mini-Grant Recipients!

Wow what a year! When EENC announced our mini-grant winners back in April, none of us had any idea of what the year ahead would look like. We are so thrilled that all our winners were able to continue with their projects, even if some of the details needed to change. Eight of our awardees have completed their projects, and our remaining two are making amazing progress and will wrap up in 2021.

Want to see your project on this list next year? EENC’s next round of mini-grants will be announced in winter 2021, so keep your eyes on the EENC newsletter for full details.

Sandra Dixon, Pioneer Springs Community School, Worms at Work

“My Worms at Work project was developed from an interest sparked during an EENC conference I attended on vermicomposting. I began the project with the students performing an experiment with food waste at their homes. Once it was determined the worms could help with our food waste problem, students were given research materials about vermicomposting and given the budget and the task of designing one for their building at school. Students planned out what materials were needed and I shopped and constructed according to their plans. This will be an on-going project where we experiment with bedding types, temperature, light and food waste choice. The worm bins will be available for families to take home and care for during our remote learning phase and will then be a permanent part of our school once we return to campus.”

Jenna Hartley, NC State University, Picking up more than just litter

“The funds from this mini-grant went to supplies for teachers to conduct the citizen science clean-ups in their communities. They will be used by teachers in Durham and Onslow County to enable their students’ participation. The plans were initially for teachers on this mini-grant to collaborate with North Carolina State Parks and organize for their waterway clean-ups to take place on field trips to State Parks near their schools. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding school field trips, these supplies will be used more creatively in 2021 - potentially on local school grounds, at nearby waterways, or in students’ and families’ local neighborhoods. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to empower young people as environmental change agents in their communities.”

Tatiana Height, UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies, Two-Part Project

Cottage Gardens Resource Center Summer Program

Cottage Gardens The original goal of the project was to implement a culturally relevant environmental education program for urban racial minority youth. I wanted to offer an in-person experience but due to COVID-19 I had to pivot and offer a fully remote program, free of charge to participants. Students met three times a week on Zoom to learn about water resources and environmental justice. Each week parents would come to the Cottage Gardens Resource Center to pick up activity kits which were purchased with support of the EENC mini grant. The activity kits contained everything that was needed for students to follow along from home.”

Environmental Justice Workshop for American Conservation Experience AmeriCorps Members

“Partners for Environmental Justice (PEJ) partnered with other organizations such as the American Conservation Experience (ACE), the City of Raleigh Parks Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, the Conservation Fund, Step Up Ministry, and the Water Resources Research Institute to offer a six week green workforce training program for 18-30 year olds. As a part of the program, PEJ developed and implemented a one day environmental justice workshop for the participants. The EENC mini-grant dollars were used to purchase supplies for a get to know you ball activity and two simulations that illustrate environmental justice problems.”

Marisa Sedlak, Town of Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation, Naturalist Packs

“The Naturalist Packs on Beech Mountain are providing families the opportunity for self-led environmental education activities. The two packs consist of: a fish net, bug nets, a bird ID book, a “go find it” scavenger hunt game, an animal track guide, a clipboard and pen, binoculars, a bug jar, and a laminated sheet of paper that offers activities for the materials provided. The hope of these Naturalist Packs is that they strengthen participating families’ connection with nature.”

Trent Stanforth, Johnston Community College, Nature PlaySpace Play Day Materials

“This year, Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center submitted a grant proposal to EENC to seek funding for play materials that would be utilized in its newest exhibit space: the Nature Play Area. This interactive exhibit is open to all ages, but tailored for younger audiences (2-5 year olds). Areas of interest within this exhibit include: sandbox, crawl-through tunnel, a Little Free Library, and a slide. With the grant, Howell Woods was able to extend the use of this exhibit to offer Nature Play Days, free of charge, to the public. Materials included in this grant were: sand shovels, tubs to hold bubble mixture, animal eye masks, washable paints, sand buckets, and more. These play materials created a sense of play and exploration for visitors, while also introducing the public to Howell Woods itself.”

Willard Watson, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Environmental Art Packs

“The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum created "summer backpack art camps" with 5 Nature focused lessons for ages 5-8 and 5 nature focused lessons for ages 9-16. The summer backpack camps allowed students to learn about their local biosphere and pick up some cool art techniques along the way. We reached over 200 people because many families purchased one kit for multiple children. We included surveys in the backpacks none have been returned. We have received anecdotes from families about the quality of the backpacks. The most exciting part of the project is that through the EENC funds we have been able to subsidize backpack camps and offer them at $5 for EBT card holding families.”

Wendy Wilson, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Nature Learning Library

“The Nature Learning Library project has provided a selection of nature, ecology, and plant-themed picture books appropriate to K-5th grade students for the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ Children’s Garden. A selection of 28 books were purchased, ranging in subjects from trees, seeds, roots, stems, and leaves to forest ecosystems, nocturnal animals, birds, and biographic accounts of two famous female botanists, some in Spanish. The learning library is ready for placement in the garden. However, garden construction has been delayed due to the pandemic. Upon installation, a “green roof” planting will be added. When the library is placed in the finished Children’s Garden, we anticipate a high volume of family visitors taking advantage of the new resource.”

Mir Youngquist-Thurow, Agape Center for Environmental Education, ACE at Your Place

“The mini-grant funds helped to defray the cost of procuring supplies and equipment to enable ACE at Your Place and Guided Environmental Excursions to provide hands-on opportunities while respecting social distancing and safety protocols for the COVID-19 virus. Participating teachers have reported that their students have benefited by improving their knowledge and appreciation of the natural world through hands-on experiences. The supplies provided by the mini-grant provide individual kits for each student for various lessons. Students engage in hands-on activities with their kids and instruction from ACE Education educators, after which, the kids are sanitized before reuse.”


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