The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $59,400 in grant funding to a Chicago nonprofit as part of an effort to use the Chicago River as a “living classroom” to teach students about the importance of clean water and other water quality issues.
The grant, announced Thursday, will go toward a program run by the Friends of the Chicago River that provides teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade with training and personalized assistance to “immerse their students in the turbulent history, evolving ecology and improving health of the Chicago River,” according to the nonprofit’s website.
The program, called the Chicago River Schools Network, aims to increase awareness of and empathy toward the Chicago River ecosystem, including the plant, animal and human communities that rely on it, according to the Friends.
“Friends is grateful to have EPA support to help us educate 14,000 students about science, nature and advocacy using the Chicago River as a tool for learning,” said Margaret Frisbie, the Friends’ executive director, in a statement.
With the EPA grant, the nonprofit plans to host workshops to educate more than 100 teachers about the river’s history and ongoing efforts to improve it.
The program will also bring together 300 students from 25 schools for the annual Chicago River Student Congress, where students attend workshops and learn about the river from displays created by other students and professionals from government agencies, local universities and nonprofits.
Students from participating schools will take part in a project to record and share water and habitat quality data with other schools and the public.
The next Chicago River Student Congress is scheduled for March 2, 2019, at the Von Steuben Metro Science Center. For more information, visit the Friends' website.