Pipeline Project K-12 Education for Sustainability Student Outreach Coordinators

Executive Summary:

The K-12 Education for Sustainability Student Outreach Coordinators will be based in the UW Pipeline Project office in the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity.   The Coordinators’ primary project goals will be to diversity and increase the overall number of students and community partners engaged in K-12 environmental education and ensure continued and expanded opportunities for UW students to promote sustainability through K-12 outreach and education.

The total proposed cost of the Student Outreach Coordinators is $4,050.  This includes funding for: 1) one hourly undergraduate student at $11 per hour for 10 hours/week during Winter 2013 (10 weeks) and 5 hours/week for Spring 2013 (10 weeks) and 2) one hourly graduate students at $15 per hour for 8 hours/week during Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 for a total of 20 weeks.

This project addresses the importance of raising the public’s awareness and environmental ethic to achieve optimum environmental impact through inclusive, high quality K-12 environmental education efforts.  By diversifying, strengthening and expanding K-12 environmental education opportunities, this project will develop the environmental ethic of both a diverse population of UW students and K-12 students.

Pipeline’s Environmental Alternative Spring Break (EASB) program began in 2006 with 4 undergraduate students and one school partner, the Quileute Tribal School in La Push, WA.  In 2009, a Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship recipient worked with Pipeline staff to add one additional school partner, Brewster Elementary in Brewster, WA, so 10 undergraduate students now participate in EASB annually.  There is growing interest to develop more school partnerships since the program has to turn away many interested applicants each year since the demand exceeds the number of participant spots available.  The EASB program has historically been heavily administered by Pipeline Project staff and could greatly benefit from a self-sustaining student-led model to increase the capacity of the Pipeline project to not only ensure the sustainability of this program for future students but also to spur innovation and expansion.

Metrics analyzed for over the last 6 years reveal that since 2006, the Pipeline Project’s K-12 environmental and sustainability education service-learning seminars have enrolled 126 students who have served in 15 different K-12 schools or community organizations.  Due to increased enrollment in this service-learning seminar, it will be important to cultivate new community partnerships with a K-12 environmental education focus.  While no formal quantitative analysis has been administered concerning student demographics, observations and informal discussion demonstrate that Pipeline’s environmental education initiatives largely attract white and more affluent student populations, a pattern that is reflective of the larger environmental movement in the United States.

If we do not receive funds from CSF through this grant, we will be able to sustain our current programming efforts and relationships with community partners, but we will not be able to create new partnerships, nor increase our outreach to students or develop new strategies to increase the diversity of UW students engaged in K-12 education for sustainability efforts.  In addition, CSF funding will ensure the long term sustainability of the Environmental ASB program as attention will be given to document and develop the infrastructure for a self-sustaining student leadership program model.

The Pipeline Project’s website can be found at http://expd.uw.edu/pipeline.  The Pipeline Project is led by Director Christine Stickler and Associate Director Francesca Lo.  Four returning Environmental Alternative Spring Break (EASB 2013) undergraduate participants – Mariah Doll, Jessie Huang, Laura Pfeifer, and Max Sugarman – are currently serving as Team Leaders for EASB 2013.  Samanatha Dolan, a graduate student, is currently facilitating the Winter 2013 K-12 Education for Sustainability service-learning seminar.  

Student Involvement:

Funding this project will allow us to focus energies towards expanding, strengthening and diversifying the Pipeline Project’s K-12 education for sustainability programs by funding the salaries of two student staff positions.  Specifically, CSF funding would support one undergraduate student to coordinator the 2013 Environmental Alternative Spring Break (EASB) program while laying the foundation for program expansion and developing a self-sustaining student leadership program model.  Funding will also support one graduate student to instruct K-12 education for sustainability service-learning seminar during Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 and expand partnerships with K-12 classrooms and community organizations with an environmental education focus.  A major area of focus for these two student positions will be to increase the diversity of UW students who participate in these K-12 education for sustainability experiences through developing new recruitment channels and rethinking the seminar curriculum to focus on multicultural environmental education.

By funding these two student staff positions, they will increase the diversity of and expand the number of UW students engaged in K-12 education for sustainability efforts.  In the 2011-2012 academic year, 44 students engaged in K-12 environmental and sustainability education service opportunities.  In the 2012-2013 academic year, we seek to involve 55 UW students, and in the 2013-2014 academic year, we week to involve 65 UW students.  Students enrolled in Pipeline’s Education for Sustainability seminar will participate in a variety of K-12 sustainability education activities with local K-12 classrooms and community organizations.  They will complete 20-40 service hours over the course of the quarter, which equals roughly 3-5 hours of service per week.  Their service hours will be spend meeting needs articulated by K-12 classroom teachers and community organizations, such as leading K-5 classroom field trips to the Burke Museum, facilitating hands-on activities with K-5 students in an urban school garden, leading activities to develop empathy and care for the natural world, and leading K-8 youth in a lunchroom waste reduction project.  Students will link this work with academic concepts and research explored in the course seminar.

Students participating in the Environmental Alternative Spring Break program will spend the winter quarter designing an inquiry-based environmental science curriculum, which they will facilitate in K-8 classrooms in Washington State during spring break.  Students will also develop their youth work skills and learn best practices in environmental and sustainability education by serving 3-5 hours/week (20-40 hours over the Winter quarter) in a Seattle-based K-12 classroom or community organization with an environmental education focus.

Funding from the Campus Sustainability Fund will therefore not just fund two student staff positions, but many small projects that will leave an impact both on the UW students involved and on the K-12 students and communities these students serve.   These student-led K-12 education opportunities serve a critical role in cultivating an aware and engaged community that is knowledgeable about environmental issues, cares deeply about the state of our ecological systems, and have the skills and attitudes to impact personal and policy level changes that impact our earth. 

Education & Outreach:

The Pipeline Project will publicize K-12 environmental and sustainability opportunities through a variety of strategic channels.  We will continue our usual practice of advertising these opportunities through academic advisors and faculty in related departments, including the College of the Environment, College of Education, and Community and Environmental Planning.  We will also continue to publicize these opportunities through making announcements in specific classes, through utilizing social media networking, and through Registered Student Organizations, including SEED, Earth Club and UW Farm.  We will develop new marketing and recruitment strategies to reach and attract a more diverse student population.

Our specific outreach and education goals are as follows:

Goal 1.  Improve campus outreach and recruitment efforts to attract a more diverse student population.  Given the interdisciplinary nature of environmental sustainability issues, we aim to expand our recruitment efforts beyond the academic disciplines and RSOs with an explicit environmental focus (e.g. College of the Environment, Community and Environmental Planning, SEED, Earth Club).  We aim to broaden our outreach to other UW departments including the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity, the Ethnic Cultural Center, MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement), in addition to a wide variety of registered student organizations.

Goal 2.  Sustain and develop new partnerships with campus and community organizations and K-12 classrooms that focus on environmental and sustainability education.   While the Pipeline Project has developed a robust set of partnerships with 15+campus and community organizations and K-12 classrooms, we recognize this is the tip of the iceberg in the K-12 environmental and sustainability education field.  We plan to use Winter and Spring quarter to identify new campus and community organizations and K-12 classroom teachers with a strong interest in environmental and sustainability education who are interested in developing a partnership with the Pipeline Project that can be sustained by Pipeline staff in future years.  

Environmental Impact:
  • Food
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
  • Waste
  • Water
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

This project addresses the problem of finding a way to connect the University of Washington’s commitment to sustainability to actual environmental impact through environmental education.  We believe that for sustainability efforts to have a strong environmental impact, the public’s awareness and environmental ethic need to be raised.  We believe that education is a powerful mechanism to inspire one’s interest and care for the environment.  By engaging diverse UW students in K-12 environmental education opportunities, UW students are mitigating this problem by not only increasing their own awareness of environmental issues which will compel their individual action on these issues, but they are also making a strong environmental impact by cultivating an environmental awareness and ethic amongst K-12 students in the broader community.  Thus, the outcome is a ripple effect of environmental education where UW students and K-12 students will influence their own friends, families and communities towards environmental sustainable behaviors.  Moreover, by focusing our efforts on diversifying the population of who is involved and passionate about environmental education, we will broaden the impact of individual environmental actions.  Qualitative data analysis of Pipeline’s K-12 environmental education opportunities demonstrate that a large majority of students leave with either a new or renewed interest in pursuing a career in K-12 environmental and sustainability education or a commitment to incorporate environmental education in their future engagements, whether that be as a formal K-12 classroom teacher, a volunteer activity or in their respective careers.

Specifically, the environmental concepts, issues and practices that UW Pipeline Project students address with K-12 students include, but are not limited to, food waste and composting, food justice and urban gardening, conservation and protection of healthy local watersheds, and developing interest and empathy for local ecosystems.  UW students engage K-12 students in these concepts and practices through direct outreach with K-12 school and organizational partnerships that have been specifically developed for their interest in and commitment to environmental sustainability through education.

To address the problem of the lack of diversity of those involved in sustainability initiatives, we will broaden our recruitment and marketing channels in addition to rethinking how we frame the environmental education field.  We believe that a challenge faced by the broader environmental movement in the United States is that its message and constituency has been based on white, upper/middle class norms and perspectives (Taylor, 2009).  For example, environmental justice issues that disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color have not historically been a focus of the traditional environmental movement.  We aim to go beyond the traditional focus of environmental education as primarily ecological to include a social and political dimension in our curriculum.  We hope to focus our curriculum on multicultural environmental education that emerges the environmental justice social movement with three education fields – environmental education, multicultural education and critical pedagogy (Running Grass, 1996).  By doing so, we hope to broaden the notion of what the environment has traditionally been associated with (wilderness in the distance) to that of everywhere we work, live and play.  Conceptually, this broadening of perspectives will engage the interests of a more diverse population of UW students, thus resulting in sustainability efforts that involve more diverse communities in the long run. 

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Impact will be directly measured by the number of UW students engaged in the Pipeline Project’s K-12 environmental and sustainability initiatives, the number of K-12 students reached, the number of service hours students complete in their K-12 classrooms or community organizations, the number of school and community partnerships sustained and developed, and the changes in demographic data of students engaged in these initiatives.  The Pipeline Project, in partnership with K-12 schools and community organizations, will endeavor to assess the change in attitude regarding environmental ethics and the change in understanding of environmental concepts and practices. In Pipeline’s EASB program, we currently obtain feedback classroom teachers and administer a variety of assessments for comprehension with the K-12 students to improve our curriculum and delivery.  We also collect reflection surveys from UW Pipeline Project students to gauge learning from their participation.  We will continue to use these methods and to create new methods that will specifically address the impact and value of K-12 environmental and sustainability education.  

Total amount requested from the CSF: $4,050
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost/ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Equipment & Construction
Publicity & Communications
Personnel & Wages
Undergraduate staff position$11/hr for 8 hrs/wk for Winter 201311100
Undergraduate staff position$11/hr for 5 hrs/wk for Spring 20131550
Graduate staff position($15/hr for 8 hrs/wk for Winter and Spring 201312400
General Supplies & Other

Non-CSF Sources:

We will be conducting a fundraising letter writing campaign to EASB participant contacts to raise $1,000 by March 2013.
Project Completion Total:


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Coordinate EASB 2013, develop student-led model, focus on diversity efforts2 QuartersJun-13
Facilitate Education for Sustainability Pipeline seminar, build community partnerships, focus on diversity efforts2 QuartersJun-13

Project Approval Forms: