NORTHBROOK, Ill. and WASHINGTON, July 31, 2019 (PRNewswire) | Marking the fifth year of the UL Innovative Education Award (ULIEA), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and partner North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) today announced the 2019 winners for excellence in environmental education. To celebrate UL’s 125thanniversary this year, six non-profit organizations were selected as winners for the difference they are making in their communities by advancing environmental education through STEM. The 2019 winners will each be recognized with up to $100,000 and join the established network of ULIEA alumni awardees. Together with experts from UL and NAAEE they will collaborate on social impact projects to engage youth, inspire leadership and drive sustainable change.
The 2019 grand prize winner and recipient of $100,000 is the FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, a self-funded organization under the College of Education at Florida Atlantic University. FAU Pine Jog is dedicated to developing, researching and disseminating environmental educational programs and services for students and community members of all ages. Through the organization’s 14 core programs, FAU Pine Jog creates lasting social relationships and moves thousands of South Floridians along a progressive continuum toward environmental STEM literacy and responsible action.
“The entire Pine Jog team is honored to be named the 2019 grand prize winner of the UL Innovative Education Award. We plan to use this recognition to continue to build E-STEM programs that focus on the interconnectedness between human and natural systems,” said Ray Coleman, executive director of the FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center. “This support will allow us to grow our programs, which help people of all ages develop awareness and skillsets to create innovative environmental change solutions. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with our participants on a whole new level and to forge new partnerships with other E-STEM leaders across the nation.”
The five additional 2019 award winners include:
- E4 STEM – Environmental Tribal Youth Camps ($50,000 award recipient): The program, supported by the Flower Hill Institute, provides the opportunity for Native American youth in New Mexico to engage in both Western science as well as various environmental projects, including climate change and how issues particularly impact tribal communities. The project seeks to increase the scientific knowledge and engagement of Native American youth in E-STEM in order to be better stewards of their ancestral lands.
- CareerCLUE ($50,000 award recipient): Solar One’s CareerCLUE is a unique summer youth employment program in New York City that blends for-credit academics, personal development, and engagement in environmental sustainability through career exploration and service learning. The program builds student knowledge through experiential learning while imparting the mix of skills necessary to thrive in the emerging green careers of the 21st Century.
- Maine Environmental Changemakers Network ($25,000 award recipient): Located in Brunswick, Maine, and supported by the Maine Environmental Education Association, the Changemakers Network is a youth-led, statewide intergenerational network that connects young Mainers – from diverse backgrounds and who are passionate about the environment – with peer and professional mentors, training, and the resources needed to implement environmental action in their communities.
- Wings Over Water ($25,000 award recipient): A joint program between University of Montana and the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula, MT, Wings Over Water (WOW) brings research into the hands of middle and high school students through the study of their local Ospreys and ecosystems. Students, with the help of their teachers who are also educated by WOW, lead the entire process of scientific discovery, and in the process, learn physics, biology, chemistry, math, engineering, conservation and technology.
- Youth Energy Squad ($25,000 award recipient): The Youth Energy Squad (YES) grows the next generation of green leaders in Metro Detroit through the support of EcoWorks Detroit. Each year, hundreds of YES students lead change through green teams, which address place-based sustainability issues while also being exposed to green careers.
“It is truly a privilege to recognize the important work of the UL Innovative Education Award winners and help them continue to bring unique and engaging learning opportunities to students in their regions,” said Cara Gizzi, vice president of education and outreach, Underwriters Laboratories. “Over the past five years, 26 total winners received over $1.275 million to support environmental STEM programs, and they’ve built a strong network with like-minded organizations around the U.S. and Canada. This year’s cohort reaches a diverse group of audiences with innovative programming that can serve as a model for programs around the globe.”
The ULIEA program is celebrating five years of recognizing organizations that demonstrate effective educational programming and community engagement. Past winners have promoted E-STEM in a variety of ways, which include providing opportunities to make direct improvements in their communities, using hands-on education through experiences like cleaning up a mock oil spill and onboard floating classrooms, and even the chance to reintroduce an extinct-in-the-wild animal species into their natural habitats.
What’s more, over the past five years, winners have activated the ULIEA alumni network and tapped UL science, engineering, technology and marketing employee experts to help amplify their programs. According to research conducted in 2018, two-thirds of the award winners have collaborated by exposing their students to each other’s program offerings, and most were able to increase youth participants by 10-30% after winning the award.
“There has never been a more important time to engage youth across North America in environmental issues and education,” said Christiane Maertens, program director for the UL Innovative Education Award. “The partnership with UL and NAAEE has demonstrated increased interest in E-STEM among youth, and for that we congratulate the ULIEA program on five successful years.”
The 2019 winners will convene on August 7-9, 2019 for a leadership summit – a unique opportunity for winners to come together and learn from professionals from UL and NAAEE, as well as to share best practices and network with other winning organizations to further their causes and community engagement.
To learn more about the UL Innovative Education Award, please visit ulinnovationeducation.naaee.net. To see the candid reactions of all 2019 winners learning of their selection, please visit the UL Safety Smart YouTube channel.
UL helps create a better world by applying science to solve safety, security, and sustainability challenges. We empower trust by enabling the safe adoption of innovative new products and technologies. Everyone at UL shares a passion to make the world a safer place. All of our work, from independent research and standards development, to testing and certification, to providing analytical and digital solutions, helps improve global well-being. Businesses, industries, governments, regulatory authorities and the public put their trust in us so they can make smarter decisions. To learn more about our nonprofit activities, visit UL.org. To learn more about our business solutions, visit UL.com.
For nearly five decades, the North American Association for Environmental Education has led efforts to use the power of education to advance environmental literacy and civic engagement and create a more equitable and sustainable future. NAAEE supports a network of more than 20,000 educators and 56 state, regional, and provincial affiliate organizations working in environmental education in more than 30 countries. For more information, visit Naaee.org.