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$65,000 in EPA Funding to Universities in Puerto Rico

Release Date: 12/11/2006
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869 / reyes.brenda@epa.gov or Teresa Ippolito (212) 637-3671 / ippolito.teresa@epa.gov

(SAN JUAN, P.R.) Tomorrow’s improved environment moves closer to a certainty in the eyes of the teachers and college students participating in two programs that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is supporting in Puerto Rico. Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR) and Universidad del Turabo have each received an environmental education grant.

At a ceremony today at the Agency’s offices in Santurce, EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg presented checks for the grants to Dr. Marilina Lucca-Wayland, Chancellor of Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR) and Dr. Roberto Lorn Vice Chancellor of Universidad del Turabo, Ana G Mendez University System. IAUPR received $25,507 to support its program to promote environmental careers at IAUPR and engage students in community service in Vega Baja. Universitad del Turabo’s grant is for $39,297 for a program to educate 30 non-science teachers on ecosystem challenges.

“One of the most important things we can do to make sure Puerto Rico’s environment has future caretakers is reach out to young people and give them the skills and opportunities to become environmental stewards,” said Mr. Steinberg. “Inter American University and Universidad del Turabo have come up with programs that will give college students and teachers the opportunity to care about, and for, this island’s special ecosystems.”

The Saturday Environmental Academy conducted by Universidad del Turabo focuses on teachers from southeastern Puerto Rico who will learn about regional issues related to preserving natural ecosystems versus the challenges of development. In addition to learning about terrestrial and aquatic communities, climatology, hydrology, oceanography and demographics, the teachers will develop lessons for their classrooms and design a hypothetical construction project for the area incorporating what they have learned. They will present the design at a simulated public meeting. This process is designed to foster their sense of environmental stewardship and, in turn, enable them to share that care for local ecosystems with their students.

IAUPR continues to find ways to encourage students to pursue studies that will give Puerto Rico its future environmental professionals. ”Promoting Environmental Careers through an Integrated Approach” educates college and high school students and community members about the environment especially as it relates to protection of Laguna Tortuguero Natural Reserve, an ecosystem with the largest freshwater lagoon in Puerto Rico. College students will learn about the ecosystem while in seminars, conduct scientific fieldwork at the reserve and teach high school students, also on field trips, about the reserve ecosystem. They will also conduct workshops, partnering with the Ecotourism Office in Vega Baja, for science teachers and community volunteers. The field experiences will include extensive microbiological analysis of water quality in the reserve. All involved will learn how they can be environmental stewards.

For more information on EPA’s environmental education grants, go to http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/grants.html

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