2021 PREP Grant Projects

Total Funds Awarded: $243,165

In 2021, 10 grantees were provided funds to complete 11 different projects. Read about each of the grantees and their projects below.

CEI LogoCommunity Ecology Institute

Project: Waste Reduction and Reuse Education at Freetown Farm – Completed

Community Ecology Institute established a unique Maker Space in the center of Freetown Farm for experiential environmental education focused on reducing plastic pollution, reusing and repairing materials, and protecting natural ecosystems and watersheds.

In partnership with Transition Howard County, the Maker Space at Freetown Farm became the official Repair Cafe location. Fourteen dedicated Repair Café volunteers repaired nearly 50 broken items including a lamp, portable heater, popcorn maker, bracelet, flannel shirt and gardening tools. In addition to the Repair Café, the Maker Space held other workshops such as compost bin building, whittle wood silverware making, woodworking, bike maintenance, block printing, beginner carving, and more. CEI had 322 people take part in workshops throughout the year.

CEI also collaborated with Upcycled by collecting approximately 1750 pounds of #2 and #5 plastics to be turned into structures such as garden beds that were then used for their Nourishing Gardens program. Over the grant period CEI has also reduced waste by using cardboard for weed suppression, scrap wood for garden beds and shelving, and pallets for compost bins and art projects. In addition, CEI planted 194 trees on the property during the fall of 2021. Overall, the project engaged 425 members of the public and 100 volunteers.

The PREP grant helped with the restoration of the existing structures on the land, the construction of a new classroom and the compensation of the coordinator and intern that developed and ran the workshops, field trips, classes and camps.

See photos here.

Howard County Conservancy LogoHoward County Conservancy- (2 Projects)

Project 1: Watershed Report Card – Completed

HCPSS 9th grade students completed 26 stream studies at eight Howard County streams and 13 schoolyard assessments. The stream surveys utilized biological, chemical and physical testing resulting in a watershed report card and an annual watershed summit. The project engaged 240 volunteers, over 500 students and 250 people at the watershed summit. The watershed report cards were uploaded to a webpage that has been viewed more than 620 times.  

Along with stream monitoring, students completed three action projects: storm drain stenciling, native plant implementation, and a seed giveaway. Two schools engaged in storm stenciling, four schools took part in the native plant action project (planting approx. 50 native plants), and one school participated in the seed giveaway (distributing 100 native seed packets). The PREP grant project also included 25 litter cleanups resulting in 83 bags of trash collected. 

The PREP grant helped provide materials and supplies such as water chemistry kits, plants, trees and stream cleanup kits. The grant funded teacher training, additional support staff and three professional development workshops for teachers throughout the year. 

Project 2: Reusable Container Program – Completed

Howard County Conservancy’s 2021 PREP grant project illustrated how a closed loop model can create an innovative new delivery system of meals without single use packaging.  

Howard County Conservancy worked with Vantage Point retirement residence to pilot a reusable container system for their dining services. The two groups chose Sysco as a vendor and purchased 408 soup containers, 708 compartment containers, drying racks and collection bins. Two types of insulated reusable coffee cups with lids were also purchased. Vantage House staff were trained on washing procedures and Howard County Conservancy hosted educational sessions. The project was promoted on social media in “Plastic Free July.”   

The reuse system launched at Vantage Point in June 2022 and continues to engage the 300 residents of Vantage Point and five volunteers. The new system reduces plastic from over 300 meals daily.  

The PREP grant funded reusable containers, collection boxes throughout the facility, and additional staffing to handle grant management, outreach and education.   

See photos here. 

Howard Community College LogoHoward Community College

Project: Compostable Materials for Cafeteria Vendors – Completed

Howard Community College replaced single-use plastics in the James Ecker Café with certified compostable materials. Over the Fall of 2021 HCC tested multiple compostable brands, as well as dispensing and collecting equipment, and evaluated them based on cost, usability and customer preference. Educational signage was installed with composting directions and volunteers and student employees monitored the collection stations in the cafeteria to provide feedback and instruction. Social media was also used to inform the students of the composting system.

The college transported compostable containers and food waste to local composting facilities, reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill. In total, the project engaged 46 volunteers and resulted in 46 tons composted including 15.3 tons of food waste.

A portion of the projected has been extended for six months and will result in a second collection and pick up location at the campus’ culinary teaching kitchen and its restaurant.

The PREP grant funded the testing of compostable alternatives, and dispensing and collecting equipment, and assisted in funding a contractor to transport waste to the Howard County Composting Facility.

See photos here. 

Howard Ecoworks LogoHoward Ecoworks

Project: EcoAmbassadors – Completed

Howard Ecoworks recruited 13 HCPSS high school students to serve as EcoAmbassadors. The students received training on the EcoWorks mission and vision, environmental stewardship, behavior change principles, the Howard County Plastic Bag Fee and associated legislation.  

EcoAmbassadors engaged at least three community partners, including Howard Community College, 1/ST Properties, Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Wilde Lake Village, Ellicott City Partnership, and St. John the Evangelist to conduct community assessments. The students then completed the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Visible Trash Survey to evaluate potential cleanup sites.  

Each student was responsible for coordinating and leading two cleanup events, one educational event and developing social media content around their projects. The EcoAmbassadors were introduced to the principles of organizing a community cleanup by participating in the 3rd Annual Watershed Makeover in February 2022.  

A total of 15 community cleanups were accomplished with 6,230 lbs of trash removed. Cleanup sites included the Capitol Mobile Home Community, Pirch Way in Elkridge, Symphony Woods, Paddock Pointe, Centennial High School, Wilde Lake High School, Wilde Lake neighborhood, Murray Hill in North Laurel and the Park and Ride near the First Presbyterian Church of Howard County.  

Social media outreach activities reached approximately 400 people and included education on fast fashion, storm drain stenciling and native plant seed bombs. In addition, an article on Climate Change was published in Maryland Matters. The EcoAmbassadors also published an article in HCC Digital Newsletter, created a Holiday Gift Guide and tabled at Springfest. 

The EcoAmbassadors program engaged 387 volunteers and reached 2,885 members of the public.  

The PREP grant funded Eco-Ambassador stipends, supply kits such as gloves and trash bags, outreach materials such as flyers and posters, and administrative overhead.  

See photos here. 

Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park Logo

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park

Project: Mobile Visitor Center – Completed

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park’s Mobile Visitor Center (MVC) is a classroom on wheels. During the grant period the MVC vehicle visited 20 trailheads in the Patapsco Valley State Park, along with locations and events outside the park (such as Howard County Recreation and Park’s Truck or Treat event), to provide bilingual environmental education. Presentations and materials focused on promoting awareness of water quality, water pollution, anti-littering, river and bay information, the benefits of reducing plastics, and more.

The MVC engaged 20,798 members of the public and 506 volunteers. In addition, it resulted in the reduction of 100 gallons of plastic and the recycling of another 100 gallons. MVC staff and volunteers conducted daily litter cleanups, collecting a total of 31,460 gallons of trash and removing 153,200 gallons of invasive species.

The PREP grant assisted with staffing and event consumables.

See photos here and watch a video of the Mobile Visitor Center at the Truck or Treat event here.

Murray Hill Homeowners Association, Inc

Project: Litter Mitigation Program- Completed

Murray Hill Homeowners Association engaged and educated community youth on anti-littering through weekly paid community clean ups. At least one bag of trash was collected for 52 weeks. Murray Hill raised awareness about litter and proper waste disposal through social media, email outreach and at community meetings. In addition, the HOA installed a permanent trash bin to reduce litter. The project engaged five volunteers and positively impacted 97 homes in the community.

The PREP grant funded youth stipends, trash pick-up materials and tools such as reusable gloves, trash bags, and grabbers, a 64-gallon trash can with a chain and lock, and marketing materials and supplies.

See photos here. 

Patapsco Heritage Greenway LogoPatapsco Heritage Greenway

Project: Water Quality Monitoring Programs – Completed

Patapsco Heritage Greenway expanded their current volunteer-based water quality monitoring program from six to nine stream stations and added a biological component focused on aquatic macroinvertebrate communities. PHG collected data twice a month at each site, measuring parameters such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrite, phosphorous, water clarity, conductivity and presence of E. coli bacteria. Data collected between April 2021-April 2022 was entered into a comprehensive database, managed by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, called the Chesapeake Data Explorer.

Trends and observations were worked into water quality presentations displayed at family focused stream-side events, hands-on bilingual workshops with Defensores de la Cuenca and Patterson Park Audubon Society, scout troop service events and school events. In addition, PHG used the finding of high conductivity levels as a springboard for conversation about salt in water. The organization posted on social media and published an article about how residents can reduce salt runoff from the de-icing of surfaces.

The project engaged 475 members of the public and involved 60 volunteers that together accumulated 700 volunteer hours.

The PREP grant funded water quality monitoring supplies, waders, and salary and benefits for a program coordinator.

See photos here. 

Savage Community Association LogoSavage Community Association

Project: More Than Alphabet Soup – Completed

Savage Community Association (SCA) developed unique experiential learning opportunities for schools, individuals, and park visitors at the new Savage Park Extension. SCA partnered with Girl Scouts completing their Silver and Gold Award projects to develop four interactive learning modules and five interactive displays on a range of environmental issues. These EcoWarriors presented their projects to the public at both GreenFest and Savage Fest. Projects can be found on YouTube and will be housed on a SCA owned website.

EcoWarriors volunteered at various cleanup events, including cleanups in partnership with Upcycled. SCA sponsored cleanups resulted in 1120 lbs. of trash removed from the community. They also took park in the Fun in the Forest and Art Contest in the Natural World events, where 28 girl scouts earned a Fun in Nature patch. Finally, the EcoWarriors worked with Howard County Rec and Parks to establish a new trail in Savage Park. In total SCA’s grant project involved over 200 volunteers and engaged more than 275 members of the public.

The PREP grant funded materials, signage, activity pavilion rentals, storage space for displays, video equipment, and wages for the production and mailing of the newsletter.

See photos here. 


Upcycled LogoUpcycled

Project: Waste to Wonder – Completed

Upcycled builds and tests solution-oriented products from recycled materials, giving them a long-term purpose and reducing waste in landfills. Through donation points, scheduled pick-ups and trail cleanups, Upcycled collects higher number plastics, PP (#5) and HDPE (#2), that traditional recycling plants may not be able to process. This includes take out containers, beverage to-go cups, and laundry detergent bottles. 

Plastic items are cleaned, sorted, shredded into flakes, heated, and pressurized into 2X4 molds to create lumber. The pieces weigh between 10-12 lbs and are being lab tested for strength and UV protection in comparison to wood and outdoor furniture, respectively.  

The lumber is then used to make a variety of structures including benches, tables, sheds and garden beds. As part of the grant project, Upcycled donated structures to the Community Ecology Institute and Savage Community Association and is in the process of donating over 19 structures to Howard County parks and schools.  

Upcycled also hosted fours cleanups at Savage Mill (one in 2021 and three in 2022), engaging more than 125 members of the public. Upcycled and volunteers together collected 1900 lbs of trash.  

The PREP grant helped cover overhead costs, operational costs, manufacturing equipment and molds, additional materials and tools to build structure and consulting services.   

See photos here. 

VolunTeens LogoVolunTeens

Project: Reusable Middle School Lunch Kits – Completed

VolunTeens educated students at HCPSS schools about the need to reduce plastics, especially in the lunchroom. The non-profit held a student art contest with the theme of single-use plastic reduction. The winner of the contest and runners-up were awarded prize money. The winner also had their design printed on reusable lunch totes.  

The totes were filled with bamboo cutlery, three silicone sandwich bags, a metal water bottle, and literature on reducing plastic consumption.  VolunTeens handed out 1400 lunch kits at Clarksville Middle School, Hammond Middle School, and Patuxent Valley Middle School. The project engaged a total of 1500 members of the public and 20 volunteers.  

The PREP grant helped fund the purchase of the reusable totes and items within, gift card prizes for contest winners, and a part-time assistant to coordinate the logistics of the project.  

See photos here.