Harkins, Merski: Nearly $23,000 awarded to educate Erie students on watershed, climate change issues

Will fund watershed model, middle school greenhouses

ERIE, April 22 – Area students will learn more about stewardship of Erie’s unique watershed and the impact of climate change thanks to nearly $23,000 in grants to support environmental education, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today, on Earth Day.

The lawmakers said the grants from the Department of Environmental Protection will fund hands-on teaching models for K-12 students.

“Climate change isn’t an abstract concept that can be taught in textbooks,” Harkins said. “The reality is that it impacts critical life-sustaining issues like local food access. This funding is going to allow the Erie City School District to establish two middle school greenhouses that will serve as outdoor classrooms, planting the seeds of awareness that give students an understanding of the importance of climate issues.”

Merski said, “Our students grow up by the water’s edge, and that experience becomes a part of their identity. But enjoying the lake’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities isn’t the same as understanding how to care for our unique and delicate watershed. It’s incumbent on us to make sure we pass along that knowledge, and the new wetland model will be a great tool for that.”

The grants include:

• $20,000 to the Regional Science Consortium to construct an Interactive Wetland Model to support K-12 nonformal programming focused on water quality and the function and value of wetlands.

• $2,997 to the School District of the City of Erie to establish two middle school greenhouses to serve as outdoor classrooms addressing climate change impacts, environmental justice and diminishing local food access.

The grant is part of a package of nearly $460,000 in funding to 51 projects statewide addressing environmental justice, climate change and water quality. More information about the grants is available here.