2021 PREP Grant Projects

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

Community Ecology Institute is providing experiential environmental education focused on reducing plastic pollution, reusing and repairing materials, and protecting natural ecosystems and watersheds.

The PREP grant helps CEI with infrastructure and development of workshops, classes and hands-on environmental education where experts will share knowledge and skills fundamental to both environmental sustainability and the reduction of waste.

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

Howard Community College is replacing plastic serving ware with compostable materials in the cafeteria and cafe. Over Fall 2021 they are testing multiple compostable serving ware brands, as well as dispensing and collecting equipment, and evaluating them based on cost, usability and customer preference. Howard Community College will host stakeholder meetings, provide educational signage and programming. Once the program launches, disposal of compostable items and food waste will be redirected to county compost operations instead of landfills.

The PREP grant will fund the testing of compostable alternatives, and dispensing and collecting equipment, as well as help fund a contractor to transport waste to the Howard County Composting Facility.

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 pictures here. 

Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park Logo

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park

Project: Mobile Visitor Center

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park’s mobile visitor center vehicle will visit the most populated areas within the Patapsco Valley State Park, and at least four locations outside the park, to give bilingual presentations about environmental education. Locations include the Howard County Conservancy, Howard County Recreation and Park’s Truck or Treat event, Robinson Nature Center and Howard County Wine in the Woods. Education will focus on promoting awareness and knowledge of water quality, water pollution, anti-littering, river and bay information, benefits of reducing plastics and disposables, and other environmental education programs.

The PREP grant will assist with staffing and event consumables.

Watch a video of the Mobile Visitor Center at the Truck or Treat event here. 

Murray Hill Homeowners Association, Inc

Project: Community Litter Reduction

Murray Hill Homeowners Association will engage and educate community youth on anti-littering through weekly paid community clean-ups. In addition, they will host volunteer clean-up events open to the entire community. Murray Hill will raise awareness about litter and proper waste disposal through social media, email outreach, and community meetings. The project will help determine the best locations in the community for permanent waste receptacles.

The PREP grant funds 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.

Patapsco Heritage Greenway LogoPatapsco Heritage Greenway

Project: Water Quality Monitoring Programs

Patapsco Heritage Greenway is expanding a current volunteer-based water quality monitoring program by increasing the number of monitoring locations by at least three, and their volunteers to at least 250, developing an outreach program to provide data results to the public, and adding macroinvertebrate identification as a monitoring parameter. The outreach program will develop quarterly events to update the community on water quality data collection, education on data analysis, and offer action items to improve water quality.

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

Savage Community Association LogoSavage Community Association

Project: Park Educational Demonstrations and Activities

Savage Community Association is developing unique learning opportunities for schools, individuals and park visitors at the new Savage Park Extension. SCA will construct four themed resource kits each year with a focus on plastics reduction, anti-littering, protecting endangered species, controlling stormwater, forest conservation, reforestation, and improving water quality. The kits will include links to online support materials with suggestions for students of all ages and abilities for hands on activities. Two or more hands-on experiments will be constructed for group use in the park. The experiments will be displayed during the day and moved to a storage facility overnight. Videos of the demonstrations will be uploaded to YouTube for easy access by teachers, students, library staff and scout troops. SCA is recruiting Girl Scouts for assistance. Finally, SCA in collaboration with the Office of Community Sustainability and Recs and Parks, plans to develop interpretive signage to challenge park visitors with questions such as “why does the Little Patuxent make a 90 degree turn here?” with answers by QR code.

The PREP grant funds materials for educational kits, signage, displays, video equipment, youth team leader polos and wages for the production and mailing of the newsletter.

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 pictures 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 pictures here.