Tag Archives: grants

Celebrating 25 Years of Empowering Youth Environmental Action

By Amanda Ley
Watershed Manager—Broad/Edisto Basins
Champions of the Environment Program Coordinator
S.C. Watershed Atlas Coordinator
Bureau of Water

South Carolina students and teachers have been doing their part for the environment for 25 years! DHEC started Champions of the Environment in 1993 with the goal of

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Jackson Creek Elementary School: Wood Duck Habitat Installation (25th Anniversary Champion)

encouraging, enabling, and recognizing youth environmental education projects that develop awareness, promote behavior change, or improve and protect our water, air, and land.

Over the years, Champions has been providing monetary awards to students and teachers to carry out environmental education projects. By participating in hands-on environmental activities, students benefit the environment and become life-long environmental stewards.

Projects focus on current environmental issues

In the first year of the program, monthly awards recognized students who were actively developing solutions to environmental problems. Winners were featured in a TV commercial, and received Champions’ medallions and savings bonds.

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Irmo High School: The Bee’s Needs (25th Anniversary Champion)

Today, the Champions program awards eight $2,000 grants each year and several smaller grants to help get projects started. Grant winners are featured in a statewide TV commercial, their project is highlighted on the Champions of the Environment webpage, and they receive local recognition for their environmental work.

Over the years, Champions projects have evolved to keep up with current environmental issues. Initially, projects included recycling, gardening, and water quality. Now, this competitive grant program awards innovative projects involving alternative energy, bee keeping, stormwater management, habitat restoration, energy efficiency, and Adopt-A-Stream monitoring. Many schools partner with local environmental organizations, giving students the chance to work on real world projects alongside professionals.

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Lakewood Elementary School: Locally Grown Seed Library (25th Anniversary Champion) 

Since 1993, 323 projects have been awarded, impacting thousands of students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Additionally, people all over the state have heard and seen Champion’s environmental awareness messages via the TV spots featuring the winning schools. They are aired annually and are now also featured on social media platforms.

Strong partnership supports Champions program

Since its beginning, the Champions program has enjoyed a strong commitment from its business partners. The team effort between Champions’ public-private partnership has been instrumental to the long-term success of the Champions program, and has made it possible to fund so many environmental education projects. Today, the Partnership consists of DHEC, International Paper, and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina.

Champions’ long-term goal is to foster an environmental ethic in youth that remains intact as they become adults, resulting in citizens who will both respect and protect our natural resources. Some of the first Champions would be in their 40s now, with families of their own, instilling environmental stewardship in the next generation.

Visit the DHEC website to learn more about the Champions of the Environment program and to see the list of 2017-2018 grant recipients and details about their projects.

Eight S.C. Schools Receive Champions of the Environment Grants

Eight schools have been awarded grants to support efforts to educate the next generation of environmental stewards.

“This year, Champions of the Environment grant program winners will establish wildlife habitats, and develop learning gardens and outdoor classrooms,” said Amanda Ley, DHEC‘s coordinator for the Champions of the Environment program. “Environmental education programs like the Champions program provide opportunities for students to become engaged in real environmental issues that go far beyond the classroom and hopefully make a lasting impact.”

About Champions of the Environment

Established in 1993, Champions of the Environment has been empowering youth environmental action for 25 years. Champions of the Environment provides resources and support to foster environmental education and action in South Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. The program is sponsored by DHEC, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina.

“Some of our first Champions would be in their 40s now, with families of their own,” said Ley. “We hope that they have carried on the culture of environmental stewardship, promoting behavior change in South Carolina.”

The eight Champions of the Environment winners

This year’s grant winners are:

  • Lakewood Elementary School, Horry County — Students will establish a seed library by growing, harvesting, storing, and sharing seeds from locally grown heirloom vegetables.
  • Academy for Technology and Academics, Horry County — Plants will be grown in three different garden systems to determine which one results in better water use efficiency, soil quality, plant production, and labor input.
  • East Clarendon Middle/High School, Clarendon County — An outdoor classroom will be created to teach students about natural habitats, composting and recycling, and the weather’s effect on plant growth.
  • Dutch Fork Middle School, Lexington/Richland Counties — Students in the ACTION (Assisting Communities Together Inspiring Our Neighbors) Program will work with special needs classes to improve an outdoor classroom by increasing plant diversity to attract pollinators.
  • McBee Elementary School, Chesterfield County — The entire school will be engaged in hands-on science by planting and maintaining a garden, building and decorating rain barrels, and composting cafeteria waste.
  • Jackson Creek Elementary School, Richland County — Naturalists from Camp Leopold will help students create a wood duck habitat in the wetland surrounding the school.
  • Porter-Gaud Lower School, Charleston County — Students will cultivate pollinator habitats on campus by restoring an existing nature trail and school garden.
  • Irmo High School, Lexington/Richland Counties — Standard and special education students will join forces to support a bee population by composting cafeteria waste for a pollinator garden.

Visit the DHEC website for more information about the Champions of the Environment program.

DHEC in the News: Beach restoration, Lake Busbee’s future, Healthy Greenville grants

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Have thoughts on Hunting Island’s beach restoration plans? Here’s your chance to share

A major project to restore Hunting Island’s beaches shouldn’t move forward without including neighboring islands in the work, nearby property owners say.

South Carolina state park officials are poised to pump 1.2 million cubic yards onto Hunting Island beaches starting early next year and to build new barriers to keep sand in place. Because of the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in October, the scope of work is almost double a previous proposal in early 2016.

Drain the swamp or keep Busbee? Officials ask for public’s assistance in determining lake’s future

Jessica Hunt slipped her toes into the murky water of Lake Busbee. On a breezy Sunday afternoon, the Myrtle Beach woman simply wanted to cool her feet before getting back on the road.

“I used to come here every day,” the 36-year-old said, adding that she lost 60 pounds exercising around the man-made lake. “It’s been here all my life. I love it.”

Like many locals, Hunt doesn’t want to see anything happen to Busbee, a popular spot for joggers, dog walkers and nature photographers on U.S. 501 near the Waccamaw River.

GHS awards $12.4M in grants to make our community healthier

Gateway House, Greenville County EMS, and seven other organizations across the region have been selected as the winners of the first Healthy Greenville 2036 grants.

Announced earlier this week by the Greenville Health Authority board of trustees, the nine winning grants amount to $12.4 million and provide funding for one to five years, according to a press release.

DHEC in the News: Saluda Watershed, Opioid Crisis, Don Holt Bridge

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

How one group plans to improve water quality in the Saluda Watershed

(Greenville, SC – Greenville Journal) Save Our Saluda, an environmental advocacy group, has received $54,550 from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to create a plan to reduce sediment runoff in the North Saluda River and Saluda Lake, which provide drinking water and recreation for thousands of Upstate residents.

“The plan will be a roadmap for restoration and protection efforts and will help facilitate funding for future implementation projects,” said Melanie Ruhlman, president of Save Our Saluda, in a press release. “I am especially excited about the wonderful partnership of organizations that have agreed to cooperate and help guide the project.”

The group has partnered with 11 stakeholders, including Greenville County, Greenville Water, and Renewable Water Resources, to complete the plan and restore the lake and river, which have experienced high levels of sediment runoff over the years from development and other sources.

The Midlands is getting a lethal dose of this dangerous drug cocktail

(Lexington, SC – WIS) A lethal drug cocktail is setting up camp in South Carolina.

The mystery concoction goes by many names: “China White,” “Tango and Cash,” and “Murder Eight.” It’s a drug we all know: heroin. But now, in epic proportions, dealers are cutting it with synthetic opiates like fentanyl and carfentanil.

Lt. Robby Lint runs the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s Narcotics Division.

“It’s everywhere. The increase has come – it’s made it,” Lt. Lint said. “It’s not just nationally you see it in the big cities and all the other big states and all that. It’s everywhere. And it’s here in Lexington County.”

In 2016, there were 44 overdose deaths in Lexington County. So far in 2017, there have been 25 overdose deaths, with the coroner attributing 18 of those to opioid overdoses.

It’s worse in Richland County: in 2016, there were 44 opioid overdose deaths. Through June 2017, the county has already topped the 44 overdose death.

“It’s across the board touching everybody,” Lt. Lint said. “It’s not your typical what we’re used to hearing or seeing drug addict.”

In fact, white males between the ages of 25 to 34 and 34 to 55 are the most likely group to overdose. According to DHEC, males are 40 percent more likely to overdose than women.

Charleston bridge tarp collapse could have released hazardous waste into river

(Charleston, SC – AP) – The collapse of the tarps on Don Holt Bridge has prompted an investigation into possible environmental contamination.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that the tarps that fell onto Interstate 526 last week were supposed to serve as a containment system to catch any hazardous waste created from the cleaning of lead paint on the structural steel.

The state contract for the work states that the contractor responsible for cleanup must report release of lead into the environment exceeding regulatory limits to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

A DHEC spokesman says the agency hasn’t received reports of material falling into the Cooper River. Eagle Industrial Painting of Ohio received the painting contract.

Department of Transportation spokesman James Law says the final investigation report will include environmental issues.

For more news on health and the environment, visit our blog regularly.

Champions of the Environment: Deerfield Recycling Initiative

Guest Post by Ms. Brooke Scott, Deerfield Elementary School

Environmental education has always been a passion of mine. I fully believe in environmental project based education, which helps students learn to care about the planet, about their community, and about each other.  I work to build students’ sense of environmental self-efficacy, empowering them to improve the planet and to encourage others to do likewise. I want our students to feel they are leaders who are making great things happen. They are the change agents of the future.

Over the past two years, Deerfield Elementary in Lexington, South Carolina has created a strong recycling program. This year we directed our focus on ways we can partner with the community to make an even stronger and lasting impact on the environment and strengthen our recycling and conservation programs.

We expanded the amount of items we recycle and developed a more efficient recycling system by utilizing the recycling organizers we purchased through the Champions of the Environment grant from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.  We created a “Planet Heroes Conservation Team” that is responsible for all of our recycling and conservation efforts throughout the school. The team is composed of two students from each classroom and the team rotates in new students every nine weeks. By year’s end almost 200 students will have served as a Planet Hero and learned about the importance of conservation and recycling.

We share our progress and our recycling efforts through “thermometers” placed in the hallways and through QR codes placed near our recycling organizers. Many relationships have been formed and ideas have been shared through our recycling efforts and events. We have impacted possibly thousands of people through social media, school-wide events, infographics, and presentations. We have worked diligently to share the story about our recycling success to hopefully motivate and inspire others. Seeing the students’ leadership shine through these opportunities is truly the best part of the project!

Challenges present themselves at various times. One challenge we face is getting the recycling to yard container in the back of the school. We are still working through this process, especially since it presents a safety risk for students dumping materials from a loading dock and requires constant supervision.

Teaching students, parents, businesses and community members about the importance of reducing landfills, saving natural resources, eliminating pollution, recycling and reducing greenhouse gas can have positive impacts on the environment for many years to come.

My advice for teachers wanting to start an environmental education project is always have your students in mind when planning anything. What do you want them to know and be able to do at the end of the project? How can you help them become leaders and teach others? Find opportunities to let your students shine! All learning should be authentic and relevant to students. Get the community involved and utilize resources around you. Don’t be afraid to ask experts to come talk to your students, plan a skype session, or have your students interview them! So many people are willing to help!

This post is part of a series of posts on environmental education submitted by DHEC’s Champions of the Environment 2016 winners.

About Champions of the Environment
Champions of the Environment provides resources and support to foster environmental education and action in South Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. The program is sponsored by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina. For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/champions.