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Two Rhode Island Groups Receive Environmental Education Grants

Release Date: 11/08/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced $175,000 in environmental education grants to New England, including $26,439 for two Rhode Island organizations and $20,000 to the New England Aquarium for a region-wide program. The Blackstone Valley Rivers Project will be receiving $11,514 and the University of Rhode Island is receiving $14,925.

"The critical first step to a clean and healthy world is learning about our environment," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "These organizations are doing a tremendous job at helping students and citizens learn, and EPA is proud to be able to help fund their work."

The Blackstone Valley Rivers Project is receiving $11,514 for its "Blackstone Valley Rivers Project Aquaculture Program." Students from Woonsocket High School and Mount St. Charles Academy will team up to research and grow fish in an aquaculture tank housed at Woonsocket High School. The objective of the program is for students to learn the developmental stages of various fish species found in the Blackstone River and to determine the water quality tolerance levels for the respective species. All fish raised will be released at selected sites into the river.

The University of Rhode Island is receiving $14,925 to support its existing SMILE program. The Science and Mathematics Investigative Learning Experience (SMILE) provides an academic enrichment program for minority and disadvantaged students, grades 4th-12th. The project uses existing environmental health science-based inquiry curricula and career exploration for SMILE participants. The basic units of the program are weekly after school SMILE club meetings that emphasize hands-on inquiry-based learning in a relaxed atmosphere. Teachers review current curricula in air quality and human health during their professional development workshops.

The Boston-based New England Aquarium is designing a traveling exhibit and training program on the sources of mercury in New England's environment, how it travels and reaches humans, and what people can do to minimize risks to them and the environment. Aquarium officials expect that 30,000 to 40,000 people will have the opportunity to interact with the exhibit and/or participate in mercury education.

"The New England Aquarium is excited to partner with the EPA to create a traveling exhibit program that will educate the public about mercury pollution and what they can do to help," said William S. Spitzer, Ph.D, vice president for Programs & Exhibits at the New England Aquarium. "Mercury pollution is a very real threat to New Englanders -- particularly toddlers, babies, and the fetuses of pregnant women. However, families can protect their health by making smart household choices about fish consumption, household waste, and electricity use.