EPA Boosts Science on Seneca – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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EPA Boosts Science on Seneca

The Finger Lakes Institute’s Science on Seneca (SOS) outreach program has been honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their work to protect the environment. While 22 individuals and organizations in New York State were honored in a variety of categories, SOS was the only program awarded recognition for an environmental education program. “These exemplary environmental stewards have gone above and beyond for environmental change in local communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Let their extraordinary contributions remind us all that we can make our world a better place and individuals really inspire others and make a lasting difference.” Founded in 1986 by Professor Emeritus of Geoscience Don Woodrow, Professor Emeritus of Geoscience Bill Ahrnsbrak and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Ken Carle, SOS allows local high school students to explore the living environment of Seneca Lake, and all of the factors that impact it, aboard the Colleges’ 65-foot research vessel, The William Scandling. Since the program’s inception, more than 500 teachers and 4,000 students, some of whom have traveled from as far as Cattaraugus County, have participated in the opportunity. “Students learn about the environment best by experiencing and investigating in real world settings,” says Professor of Geoscience and Environmental Studies John Halfman, who has been awarded a number of grants to improve the program since joining the faculty in 1994. “Science on Seneca provides a golden opportunity to educate and increase the environmental awareness of our future scientists, lawyers, government officials and stewards of the planet.” The primary goals of the program are to enhance the teaching of environmental science, introduce high school students to scientific field studies and expand the Seneca Lake environmental database. Recently, the program was able to expand its offerings to include a series of pre- and post-visit lesson plans and Seneca Lake training kits through a major grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program was also able to establish a full-time educational outreach coordinator at the Finger Lakes Institute. “Science on Seneca is such a great program. It’s inspiring for high school students to see college students in action, especially when those students are only a couple of years older than them,” says FLI Educational Outreach Coordinator Sheila Myers, who nominated the program. “I think this award will be an incredible boost, making it easier for us to get grant support and hopefully alert more teachers to our programs.” The EPA Environmental Quality Award is presented to non-profit environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media that have made significant contributions to improving the environment and public health.

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