Pipeline Project K-12 Education for Sustainability Student Outreach Coordinators

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $4,050

Letter of Intent:

The UW Pipeline Project is requesting temporary funds to hire an undergraduate student staff member and a graduate student staff member as our K-12 Education for Sustainability Student Outreach Coordinators.

The Pipeline Project seeks funding from the Campus Sustainability Fund at this time for two primary reasons: 1) to focus efforts on connecting with and partnering with UW departments and units that explicitly and implicitly serve a diverse student body, AND 2) to shift the Environmental Alternative Spring Break (EASB) program to a self-sustaining student leadership model. Our intention is for these two student staff to work in partnership with Pipeline staff to lay the groundwork for integrating these two new foci into the Pipeline Project without external funding in the 2013/2014 academic year.

Specifically, CSF funding would support one undergraduate student to coordinate the 2013 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 a 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.

Through these experiences, UW students develop the skills and capacity to promote sustainability through K-12 education. A major area of focus for these student positions will be to increase the diversity of UW students who participate in these K-12 education for sustainability experiences. As a result, we hope to diversify and increase the overall number of students engaged in K-12 environmental education and ensure continued opportunities for UW students to promote sustainability through K-12 outreach and education.

Housed in the UW Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity, the Pipeline Project connects undergraduate students with academic mentoring and volunteer opportunities in K-12 schools and community organizations. One way UW students get involved is through Pipeline’s EASB program where students spend the Winter Quarter developing an experiential, inquiry-based environmental science curriculum, which they then facilitate in elementary and middle school classrooms at Brewster Elementary School in Brewster, WA and the Quileute Tribal School in La Push, WA. Currently, the program is heavily administered by Pipeline Project staff and could greatly benefit from a self-sustaining student-led model, similar to other UW sustainability efforts such as the UW Farm whose expansion and innovations were and are student-driven.

Our hope is to develop the infrastructure and establish a student-led EASB program 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. An additional pathway that UW students get involved with the K-12 community is through Pipeline’s Education for Sustainability service-learning seminar. Students in this seminar explore the field of environmental and sustainability education while gaining first-hand experience by volunteering in a K-12 classroom or community organization with an environmental education focus. As interest for this seminar grows, we aim to expand our partnerships with K-12 classrooms and community organizations with an environmental education focus so that more UW students have an opportunity to develop their environmental education and outreach skills and interests.

Regarding the issue of diversity in sustainability efforts, research shows, and our observations in this work would agree, that the field of environmental and sustainability education, as well as the larger environmental movement, largely attracts white and more affluent people (Taylor, 2009; Enderle, 2007). If sustainability efforts are to be far reaching, it is critical that such efforts involve more diverse communities.

Locally, on the UW campus, we aim to focus our efforts on diversifying the student body who participates in K-12 environmental education to broaden campus involvement in sustainability efforts and to develop a new generation of diverse student leaders with an interest in environmental issues and the skills to engage in environmental education efforts. Our vision is that these student coordinators will lay the groundwork for increased environmental partnerships and pathways to diversify our student participation in these programs, which will be sustained by current Pipeline Project staff and future student leaders without additional external funding.

How Project Will Meet CSF Preferences:

Environmental impact

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. Thus, by diversifying, strengthening and expanding these K-12 environmental education programs, the two student coordinators will be making a strong environmental impact by developing the environmental ethic of both a diverse population of UW students and K-12 students, who will then influence their own families and communities towards environmental sustainable behaviors. Through our conversations with numerous students and faculty, there is a growing interest amongst students in the field of environmental education, but the campus is lacking in opportunities for students to cultivate this curiosity. Thus, we hope to support, promote and diversify this burgeoning interest as a strategy to promote sustainability. We will build on our existing partnerships with the Program on the Environment (which has now recognized Pipeline’s Education for Sustainability seminar as an elective), College of the Environment, Community, Environment, and Planning, and environment focused student groups as we recruit students. These student coordinators will also enable us to broaden our outreach and increase partnerships with other UW departments including OMAD, ECC, MESA and a wide variety of registered student organizations.

Student Involvement

This project has a large emphasis on developing student leadership and involvement. First, the funds we are requesting will be used entirely on student salaries, providing two students not only with an on-campus job, but with a unique professional development opportunity. Also, one objective of these two student staff positions is to increase the number of UW student volunteers engaged in K-12 environmental and sustainability education. Through these hands-on, service-learning experiences, UW student volunteers are developing real-world, tangible skills that they can utilize in future endeavors during their time at the UW and after they graduate. This project offers substantial student leadership opportunities as the goal of the EASB student coordinator is to establish a student-led EASB program. These students will develop critical leadership skills, including project planning, partnership building, teaching, fundraising, marketing, and collaboration skills. We will build on the interest of several returning students who participated in last year’s EASB program who have expressed their interest in this student-led model development. Similarly, the students enrolled in the Education for Sustainability service-learning seminars will increase their involvement and their capacity to lead through their volunteer work in the community, which will provide them with pathways for future involvement in sustainability education efforts.

Education and Outreach

These K-12 environmental and sustainability education initiatives are inherently educational, both for the university student volunteers (and potential student employees) and for the K-12 students impacted by the programs. The primary purpose of these programs is to cultivate an aware and engaged community that is knowledgeable about environmental issues, cares deeply about the state of our ecological systems, and have the skills to impact personal and policy level changes that impact our earth. Through this service and education work, UW and K-12 students will become more aware and engaged both with the community and about the important work of environmental and sustainability education. By having a focus on trying to diversify the students involved in this work, this project will bring together students from different campus communities to work together on sustainability education efforts. Lastly, this project serves an important function of bridging gaps between the UW community and the community at large by connecting UW students with K-12 students in Seattle and across the state to cultivate an interest in and care for the environment.

Feasibility, Sustainability & Accountability

We will not need recurring funding as the goal for EASB is to establish the infrastructure for a self-sustaining student-led model this winter and spring with the support of an undergraduate student coordinator. The graduate student instructor of the Education for Sustainability seminar will develop and solidify new K-12 classroom and community organization partnerships that the Pipeline Project will continue into the future. In addition, both the graduate student and the undergraduate student will develop pathways and partnerships for recruiting and involving a more diverse student body. This intensive thinking and planning will lay a foundation upon which Pipeline can build from in future years. Estimated Budget $4,050. This budget provides 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 student at $15 per hour for 8 hours/week during Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 for a total of 20 weeks.

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Christine Stickler