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Funding Paves Way for Sustainable Initiatives for First-Year Students

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded Ursinus College a 2021 Environmental Education Grant that will enhance outreach and participation in sustainability programs for first-year students.

Sustainability is a key component of new students’ orientation to the Ursinus community as many of them are immediately introduced to the organic farm during Welcome Week through UCARE service initiatives, participate in a carboard recycling program, and learn about environmental stewardship at the college. The $3,000 grant will mostly fund a scavenger hunt program designed last year by recent graduate Karen Herrera ’21.

Director of Sustainability Kate Keppen ’05 said, “We had always envisioned—working in partnership with the Institute for Student Success, our facilities partners, and our U-CARE partners—a way to create more robust outreach efforts for first-year students. How can we provide them the information they need to navigate life at Ursinus and engage them in creating a sustainable campus?”

According to the state DEP website, the Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that five percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by the department be set aside for environmental education. Since the inception of the grant program, the DEP has awarded more than $12 million in grants to support environmental education efforts throughout Pennsylvania.

Keppen said that sustainability is “part of our community values. It really resonates with the students and if they take it seriously, it helps us promote a sustainable environment.”

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