NORTHBROOK, Ill. and WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 17, 2016 — NY Sun Works Greenhouse Project (www.nysunworks.org), a New York City initiative using hydroponic farming technology to educate students and teachers about sustainable urban agriculture, has been named the grand prize winner of a $100,000 recognition grant in the second annual UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.) Innovative Education Award program.

Sun Works helps students learn the science behind sustainable farming and currently operates 29 labs in the city’s public schools. The grant will help expand the number to a goal of 100 labs by the end of the decade.

Developed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the UL Innovative Education Award (http://ulinnovationeducation.naaee.net) was open to nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada that serve to motivate K-12 students about science and research through E-STEM programming and education about the environment.

The program annually invests $250,000 (USD) in grants for programs that demonstrate effective educational benefits and community engagement in linking an environmental focus to STEM education while fostering sustainable communities, and youth empowerment.  The intent is to support innovative organizations that are inspiring future researchers, scientists, and problem solvers.

The other award winners are:

  • Wild Center’s Adirondack Youth Climate Program (www.wildcenter.org/youthclimate), New York, $50,000, a year-round program emphasizing climate literacy and community action related to climate issues that reaches out to underserved high school students and teachers in the rural Adirondack region.
  • Oceans Learning Partnership’s Coastal Explorers Field School (www.coastalexplorers.net), Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, $50,000, which operates a ‘floating classroom’ and onshore laboratories that give students in the Newfoundland and Labrador province opportunities to interact with marine scientists.
  • Chincoteague Bay Field Station’s SPARK (Shore People Advancing Readiness for Knowledge) (www.cbfieldstation.org/SPARK), Virginia, $25,000, which fosters environmental science interactions outside the classroom between parents and children in the Accomack County area of Virginia.
  • Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) of the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (www.nemiglsi.org), $25,000, which serves youth of all ages in eight rural northern Lake Huron counties in the state by offering environmental Great Lakes and natural resource stewardship projects.

All five winning teams from the UL Innovative Education Award (ULIEA) program will meet in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, Aug. 17-19 on the UL campus for the second ULIEA kickoff meeting and leadership summit.

“We were impressed by how the winning projects encouraged youth to present the source of the problem and implications of the problem to various audiences and how they enabled youth to advocate for feasible solutions,” Cara Gizzi, Director of Public Safety Education and Outreach says. “The judges noted that this year’s winning programs demonstrated the lasting returns on investing in sustained contact with the learners over months as well as years. The winners are the ideal ‘deep learning’ programs that offer effective, meaningful, and measurable engagement in STEM learning that can be readily tracked over time.”

The UL Innovative Education Award proposals demonstrate the values of service learning and a bottom-up approach that includes as many diverse voices, among the core features of the goals for the NAAEE’s ongoing National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, according to Christiane Maertens, NAAEE’s Deputy Director. “Building on the strengths of service learning, these projects show the impact of the ways people are experimenting with experiential learning,” Maertens says. “Youth are participating in projects that offer tangible benefits to their communities and that learning is directly associated with creating that benefit. These projects also represent many voices including urban, religious, indigenous, people of color, elderly, and women-led populations. For youth, this means achieving a more complex understanding of environmental issues, critical thinking, process and problem solving and seeing how STEM can meet the needs of the community.”

Click below link to see the surprise award announcements made to the winning organizations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTIR1gVJg1Y

About UL

UL is a premier global independent safety science company that has championed progress for more than 120 years. Its nearly 11,000 professionals are guided by the UL mission to promote safe working and living environments for all people. UL uses research and standards to continually advance and meet ever-evolving safety needs. It partners with businesses, retailers, manufacturers, trade associations and international regulatory authorities to bring solutions to a more complex global supply chain. For more information about our certification, testing, inspection, advisory and education services, visit http://www.UL.com.

About NAAEE

The North American Association for Environmental Education is a pioneering membership organization dedicated to accelerating environmental literacy and civic engagement through the power of education. NAAEE supports a network of more than 20,000 educators, researchers, and organizational members working in environmental education in more than 30 countries through direct membership and 53 regional affiliate organizations. Through community networks, publications, signature programs, and eeNEWS and eeJOBS, NAAEE provides programming and resources for professionals working in all areas of the field. NAAEE’s tentpole annual conference, now entering its 45th year, convenes leaders from private and public sectors to advance the field of environmental education. For more information, visit www.naaee.org and naaee.org/eePRO.