# Students Receive Change Grant for CT Environmental Action Day

Submitted by Maggi Anstett, Madeline Williams, and Margaret Sanders

Stacey Stearns, Marc Cournoyer, and Jennifer Cushman wanted to create a sub-committee to develop digital kits for middle school students for Connecticut Environmental Action Day, so they introduced the Change Grant opportunity to Maggi Anstett, Madeline Williams, and Margaret Sanders. The Change Grant is part of the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship program run by the Office of Undergraduate Research. The UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grants provide undergraduates the opportunity to engage in projects that make an impact and represent the UConn Co-op’s commitment to public engagement, innovative entrepreneurship, and social impact. Undergraduates in all majors can apply for up to $2,000 in funding to support community service, research, advocacy, or social innovation projects. Together Maggi, Madeline, and Margaret were eager to complete the Change Grant application. They evaluated the contents of the application and each took a section to tackle. They completed the application within a week and shortly after they got accepted for the Grant. The Change Grant will provide up to$2,000 as previously stated, however they are still creating their budget, so they can optimize all the money.

The goal of their Change Grant project is to educate young students in Connecticut on how to live an environmentally friendly life, on the importance of the environment, and how to create environmental action in their home, school, and community. As we know, the world is currently facing a climate crisis and we all face potentially life-altering changes as a result of this. Many young students are not aware of the impact our environment has on our everyday lives and therefore do not make active decisions to be environmentally friendly.

Maggi, Madeline, and Margaret hope to educate middle school students on these important topics and to create an annual day that focuses on educating them on our current climate. Additionally, they will assemble digital kits that will be distributed to middle schools in Connecticut, broadening the impact of the program. These kits will include educational materials, along with digital tools that schoolteachers can utilize to continue the education we begin. They are currently thinking about giving the digital kits to 4 schools in each county in Connecticut, thus totaling 32 different middle schools throughout the state. The main reasoning behind doing the digital kits is to reach an audience who cannot be a part of Connecticut Environmental Action Day (CEAD), a one-day event on the UConn-Storrs campus. CEAD is a program of UConn Extension that was dormant for many years before being revitalized with the help of UConn undergraduate students last year. Last year CEAD had one hundred middle school participants from three schools. However, it must reach more students to create a larger and lasting impact. CEAD uses the hashtag #ExtendTheChange to encourage social interaction and influence on associated environmental action. Prioritizing accessibility to all students’ shows that this is important, and them being invested in their future on this planet is also important.

# Climate Corps Course Shapes Career Choice for UConn Student

The UConn Climate Corps is an undergraduate classroom and service learning opportunity. The program consists of a 3 credit course (Fall semester) on the local impacts of climate change, followed by a 3 credit independent study (Spring semester) during which students work with Extension faculty to assist Connecticut communities in adapting to climate change.  In Spring of 2018 the Corps worked with the municipalities of Hartford, Westbrook, and Old Lyme.

The Climate Corps is a collaboration of the Environmental Studies, Environmental Sciences, and Environmental Engineeringprograms, the Connecticut Sea Grant Program, and the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR)

A student in the 2017-18 class and shared her thoughts with Extension Educators Bruce Hyde and Juliana Barrett.

Also I just wanted to say thank you for all the hard work you two put in to make this class/independent study possible. I had an amazing experience with it and met a lot of great people. I actually just accepted a really great post-graduation job offer from Homesite Insurance in Boston as a Catastrophe Risk Analyst, and half of my interview was spent talking about this independent study. I’ll be doing natural hazard risk modeling and identifying at-risk areas for certain natural disasters as a result of weather patterns, geographic locations, and climate change, which is something this independent study really prepared me for/got me interested in. This wouldn’t have been possible without you two and the Climate Corps class, so thank you so much!! Climate Corps had a huge influence on me, and for a while I wasn’t super excited about the sorts of jobs I’d be qualified to do with a Geoscience degree (consulting and cleaning up hazardous waste spills somehow didn’t appeal to me), but having this experience opened so many doors for me and exposed me to so many different things I could do. I’m really excited to start my new job because I’ve been able to combine a career with something I find super interesting, and I really have you two to thank for that.

I recommended Climate Corps to a bunch of people and I think one of my friends is signed up for it next year, so please keep doing this, it’s a great experience for us students (and I’m sure also for the towns we work with)! Thank you again!