The Society of Women Environmental Professionals funded grant program, Girls Learning from Women STEM Professionals at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) event was held over two days, May 30 and 31st. Although we did not reach our target of bringing 250 girls to the DEP to work alongside female STEM professionals, 139 girls were able to participate across the 2-day event. Clean air and clean water, storm water management, recycling and the structure of the modern landfill, and a tour of their beautiful LEED Certified Gold Building were just a few of the workshops that our girls experienced.
DEP staff scientists spoke to our Norristown Area High School 9th grade students briefly about their careers and path to DEP, as well as the information for the assigned station.
Students were divided into 7 groups before arriving at DEP at 8:45 a.m. each morning. Each group had a NASD chaperone and greeted their first DEP host who escorted the group to Breakout #1. Students moved through the breakout sessions until convening in the Delaware/Schuylkill rooms for lunch. Pizza was paid for with grant funds. During lunch, the girls had the opportunity to eat with DEP staff, as well as hear other strong females in the office. At the end of breakout #7, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the students boarded the buses and returned to Norristown Area High School.
Many thanks to the Society of Women Environmental Professionals and the volunteers at the DEP for helping our girls envision a future in STEM.
On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, the Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) of Greater Philadelphia hosted their annual Green Smarts Party at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, 2700 Two Commerce Square, 2001 Market Street, Philadelphia. The event is an opportunity to honor SWEP’s grant winners.
This year in addition we had the opportunity of hearing from one former grant awardee, the wH20 Women’s Water Journal.
Presenters: Stanley L. Laskowski and Akudo Ejelonu
Stanley Laskowski is a Lecturer and Advisor at the University of Pennsylvania, a Global Water Alliance founder and former Deputy Regional Administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He spoke on “The Role of Water in Women’s Lives Around the World”, and the University of Pennsylvania’s “wH2O: The Journal of Gender & Water”. Joining him was Akudo Ejelonu, in the Masters of Environmental Health and Masters of Public Health programs at the University of Pennsylvania; she spoke on her experiences on projects in India addressing water issues.
2016 Grant Winners – This year, SWEP presented grants to:
Kimberly Reed, Director, Troop Support & Experiences, and her three Senior/Ambassador Girl Scouts of Central and South New Jersey, in support of their “Refill, not Landfill” program.
In addition, SWEP is again sponsoring the Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery County Envirothons.
SWEP is grateful to Greenberg Traurig, LLP for generously sharing their beautiful conference rooms for this Event!
SWEP is Pleased to Announce its 2014 Grant Awardees and Awards Program to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia’s, Germantown Girls Give and Grow Project was awarded $2000. Their goal is to teach up to 40 girls from ages 7 to 14 to learn by doing; to plan, build, tend and harvest a community garden in Germantown, and to give the older girls leadership opportunities in working with this project and the younger girls. There are extensive plans to evaluate this project throughout and at the end of the season to allow for enhanced success in continuing this project in years to come. Ariel Goldring, Director of Grants & Stewardship, is the primary contact for this project. NEW: The final write up of the program can be seen at Germantown Girls Give and Grow Project.
Green Valleys Association of Southeastern PA, Inc.’s “Habitat Awareness and Conservation Summer Camp” was awarded $500 to allow them to purchase field materials to observe breeding of birds, bats and insects. This Summer Camp will take place during the week of August 11-15, 2014. This week is expected to draw close to 55 children in preschool through 7th grades. GVA is requesting funds to assist in programming for the estimated 25, 4th through 7th graders who will be participating in this camp week, and expect about 50% of them to be female. The final write up of the program can be seen Green Valleys Project_2014 Final Report
Dedication of Garden Created by Girl Scout Troop 555 at the Wesley House Shelter in Chester, PA
On June 9th, one this year’s SWEP of Greater Philadelphia’s Grant awardees, the Junior Girl Scout Troop 555 of Springfield, as the culmination of their Bronze award project, officially turned over the vegetable garden that they planned, built and planted over the last 8 months for the Wesley House Shelter. Wesley House Community Corp. is a 17 unit facility-based program for families and single adult females for up to 3 to 6 months length of stays in Chester, PA.
At the garden’s dedication ceremony Troop Leaders Margie Larkin and Kristen Fee O’Connor awarded 10 girls who each put in over 20 hours of hard work to make this garden a reality. They consulted with the Master Gardeners and created a “lasagna” layered raised bed garden. On June 9th , in vigorous growth were green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and green peppers.
Liz Ladd and Sheiletta Corporal, the CFO of the Community Action Agency of Delaware County [CAADC, Inc.] and Director of the Wesley House respectively, said a few words about the value of the garden to the shelter and the girls’ hard work. Also, there was a representative of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania [GSEP] and from SWEP; Elaine Feldman [Grants Chair] and Donna Suevo [Grants Committee] were also present and said a few words of admiration of the girls’ initiative and hard work. There were additional representatives from the Shelter staff Ms. Rose and Ms. Beth and as well as residents who were taking over the garden.
The shelter staff and residents are enthusiastic about the garden, have taken over garden upkeep and harvesting and hope to continue this program in years to come. SWEP felt privileged to support this project with a $500 grant.
Newsletter Article Update for the 2013 the Urban Watershed (Exploring Urban Watersheds 2013 Report).
Water Works Newsletter
The Water Works Newsletter – Camps and Canoes Bring Kids to the River! See how SWEP’s grants help encourage kids to the explore the environment!
Downingtown High School West Campus’s Energy Team
SWEP awarded one grant in the amount of $1,695.95 to Downingtown High School West Campus’s Energy Team. Ms. Dina DiSantis, Biology and Environmental Science Teacher, applied for this grant to expand the team’s ongoing energy conservation efforts and their technical capabilities. The team’s mission is to promote effective power management throughout the school community. The team will increase public awareness of solar energy possibilities with this grant by purchasing, installing, monitoring, and optimizing a high-efficiency mobile Ecotricity 1800W Solar Power Generator on the school’s roof. It will power computer carts containing computers from 25 classrooms. The project phases include collecting current laptop computer power usage data, installing the rooftop panel, evaluating energy consumption, and optimizing the panel’s position. The team will then calculate the school’s footprint reduction, debrief on the project’s challenges and accomplishments, and present their findings to the school body.
Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center
Project: “Exploring the Urban Water Shed” program
SWEP awarded a $2,000 grant to the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center to hold its “Exploring the Urban Water Shed” program for rising 9th grade girls this summer. Ms. Karen Young, Director, submitted this application to offer a two-week extracurricular experience for 12-15 girls. This program will be held in collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department, the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center, and a University of Pennsylvania scientist. The program will allow the girls to learn about our local waterways and the need and efforts to protect them. They will be in the field “engaging with practicing professionals, taking water samples from the Schuylkill River and soil samples from its tributaries, wading in a running stream to collect macroinvertebrates and touring a municipal scale wastewater treatment facility.”
Newsletter Article for the 2012 Exploring the Urban Watershed:
August 6th was the start of our new two-week girls summer program, Exploring the Urban Watershed. The participants were selected based on academic merit and a brief essay. “Each one of them had a fabulous essay,” Meg said. “It was really inspiring to read. I was excited to put our theoretical program into practice as we have been working on it for a long time.” The program was funded in part through a grant from the Society of Women Environmental Professionals. The focus was on rising 9th graders and providing them with an authentic field and lab experience. “Our goal was to get girls feeling confident and excited before entering into really important academic years. We wanted them to see science in action – we visited treatment plants, working labs, got into the creeks and met scientists working in a variety of fields.”
The program concentrated on first understanding the context of water in Philadelphia and laying the groundwork for us to dive or should we say careful step into our Case Study. Once the background had been set we turned to how scientists look at these rivers and the methodology they use to study them. In a creative way we tried to get them to think about the scientific method – asking questions, making observations, looking for patterns, and finding different ways answer those questions and problem solving. After the first week of the basics, we got into our specific case study in the Darby-Cobbs Watershed. Here we had the opportunity to partner with the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center. Their laboratory facility was a great resource for us to analyze our collection data. A Digital Scrapbook is available for download.
The group went into the creek, a new experience for many of the girls and a good one thankfully!
It was a comprehensive experience. Our intent was to look at the whole picture of our urban watersheds and step into different aspects everyday. The watershed view lent itself to naturally finishing with advocacy and stewardship action. This inaugural program was a success and we are looking for other partners to bring science alive in the future.
University of Pennsylvania
Project: wH2O Journal
SWEP awarded the University of Pennsylvania’s wH2O Journal $500 towards the publishing costs of this annual publication. Abby Waldorf, Managing Director, applied for the grant. She wrote that the journal’s mission is “to advance women’s economic and social development through the provision of water and sanitation and create a centralized body of Interdisciplinary research of women and water issues.” As many women’s lives around the world are burdened by the daily sourcing of water for their families, focusing on these issues globally will bring attention to this issue and ideally create change so that women around the world can depend on clean and plentiful water. See the current journal edition at http://wh2ojournal.com/current-issue/.
Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
Project: Girls Weekend in the Woods
A dozen girls representing WB Saul, Bodine, and Central High Schools, The Young Scholars Charter School, The Esperanza Academy Charter School, and Girls Inc. were mentored by SWEP members and Schuylkill Center Staff, for an overnight adventure in the Schuylkill Center’s woodlands. The United States has fallen behind other countries in the numbers of students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. The numbers are especially and persistently low for women, particularly those of color. Researchers are trying to learn why STEM careers are declining for these groups. “While interest is certainly a factor in getting older girls to study and pursue a career in these disciplines, more attention should be given to building confidence in their abilities early in their education,” says UWM Distinguished Professor Nadya Fouad. She is one of the authors of a three-year study aimed at identifying supports and barriers that steer girls toward or away from science and math during their education. “The relationship between confidence and interest is close,” says Fouad. “If they feel they can do it, it feeds their interest.” Science Daily, Sep. 8, 2008.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is uniquely suited to engage girls in Environmental Science. Its Environmental Education department is staffed entirely by women, so the Schuylkill Center recognizes that it can be a critical agent of change in the Philadelphia region by sharing knowledge and building interest in environmental careers for girls. The girls built their confidence in outdoor skills such as camping, orienteering, canoeing, water testing. Angela R. Cornelio-Weimer was one of the high school girls who attended the Girls’ Weekend. “I hope it happens again and again, ‘cause I would love to participate more – I had a lot of fun and met some great girls!” “Angela loves doing things with nature”, added her mom Rosanne Cornelio. “Thanks for giving her the chance!” SWEP volunteers also participated in the weekend, such as Kathy Felter Freeman, Senior Environmental Scientist at Terra Nova Environmental Services, L.L.C. Said Freeman, “We couldn’t be happier with our decision to help fund the Girls’ Weekend in the Woods. It’s not every day that you get to see first-hand, how your contributions help women in the environmental field. The Girls’ Weekend in the Woods brought our mission to a reality. The Center found a way to make watershed education fun and exciting – Bravo!”
In addition, SWEP awarded a $1000 grant to the Erdenheim and Enfield Girl Scouts for a butterfly and bird migration garden. The money will be used toward designing, planting, and maintaining the migration garden. SWEP awarded a second $1,000 grant to Oaks Elementary in the Spring-Ford Area School District for enhancing a Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat.
Project: Planting Native Trees and Shrubs to Enhance the Environment and Wildlife Habitat
Through this project, girls in the lower school (grades 1st through 4th) will plant native trees and shrubs in an area located near a bird blind used by the School as part of their science curriculum. This planting will enhance the area around the bird blind and attract more birds as the trees produce edible seeds and nuts and provide additional habitat and nesting areas for the birds.
Additionally, the planting will benefit water quality in the Wissahickon watershed by facilitating infiltration of some of the stormwater runoff at the site. Students will care and maintain the planting area throughout the year, including the summer.
Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School
Project: Recycling and Waste Reduction Program
Through this project, students at Masterman School will develop an action plan to reduce waste and increase recycling efforts at the School. Once this plan is developed, the students will implement it at the school. The student’s plan could serve as a model for other schools in Philadelphia who are facing the same issues with waste reduction and recycling.
An environmental club will also be formed at Masterman, and through seminars, field trips, and invited speakers, the club will focus on the topics of recycling, waste reduction, and sustainability.
Penn State Delaware County
Project: Concern and Care for the Earth: An Environmental Science Essay Contest for Girls
The purpose of this project is to encourage girls in 7th through 12th grades to explore environmental science and careers; to provide girls the opportunity to write about the environment and communicate their thoughts and feelings about an environmental issue; and to give girls a chance to reflect upon human impacts and areas that require research and attention in their local environment.
Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School
Project: Greener Pastures
Through the Greener Pastures project, thirty-five academically at-risk students will learn about science, horticulture, and ecology through planning and planting a community open space project. The project will provide a hands-on method for helping low-achieving students learn ways to make a positive impact on the neighborhood while mastering the fundamentals of environmental and horticultural science.