A grant program that supports teachers who develop innovative approaches to teaching about the environment and resource conservation was the subject of a resolution adopted recently by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.
The district’s board unanimously passed the resolution in recognition of the Santa Barbara County Education Office and its 10-year partnership with the district in a program that helps support science education.
For the past five years, teachers throughout the county have applied annually for Care for Our Earth grants, funded by the Air Pollution Control District. The grants are awarded to teachers who create innovative approaches to teaching students about air pollution, traffic issues, energy, and water conservation.
Since then, other parties including Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the Santa Barbara County Water Agency have joined the partnership, thus expanding the number of grants that are awarded. This year, 42 Care for Our Earth grants of $250 each were awarded to local teachers.
“The Air Pollution Control District’s long-standing support of teachers countywide has had an enormous impact on student learning,” county Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone said. “By supporting innovative local teachers, this grant program has engaged students in new ways, showing them how science can be both fun and important.”
The 10-year partnership promotes awareness of environmental issues among students, families and members of the community, added Steven Keithley, the director of SBCEO Teacher Programs and Support. It also shows students and families some practical ways to protect natural resources and to conserve water and energy.
“We so appreciate the County Education Office’s outstanding commitment to teachers, and to students who gain an appreciation for our air and our earth through this program,” APCD Director Dave Van Mullem said.
“These projects have resulted in clean-air benefits as well as benefits to schools by reducing energy use (and electricity bills), raising awareness of the need to cut traffic and pollution at school sites, helping students understand how to take public transportation, training students in bike safety, and much more.”
Teachers receiving this year’s Care for Our Earth grants will be recognized at the annual Education Celebration on May 8 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.
— Dave Bemis is the communications director for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.