2022 PREP Grant Projects

Total Funds Awarded: $364,356.95

In 2022, 11 grantees were provided funds to complete environmental projects. Read about each of the grantees and their projects below.

Clean Water Fund LogoCLEAN Water Fund

Project: Outreach to Underrepresented Neighborhoods  

Clean Water Fund (CFW) is conducting outreach in underserved areas identified through the CBT Urban Tree Grant program, EJ Screen or equivalent environmental equity program. Communities of focus include Harpers Choice, North Laurel, Savage, and Tamar Drive, with a priority on multi-family buildings.  

CFW canvassers will walk residents through the County’s climate resiliency survey, solicit feedback on other strategies to help county residents and provide information on the county’s climate resiliency programs. Information gathered will be integrated into the county’s climate action planning and implementation.

The PREP grant helps with wages for canvassing shifts, management and execution, printed materials, and overhead.  

CEI LogoCommunity Ecology Institute

Project: Reconnect, Repair and Restore 

The Community Ecology Institute (CEI) will build off their 2021 PREP grant that established an open-air classroom curriculum for experiential environmental education. The program incorporates three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) but extends them to include reconnecting, reimagining, reclaiming, restoring and repairing.  

In year two, CEI will finalize the infrastructural needs of the educational Maker Space at Freetown Farm. The space will serve 50 participants and engage 20 volunteers a month. They will add smaller supporting structures including a fiber shed, reuse shed, and pottery shed, for material storage and related programming.  

CEI will provide weekly nature-based events to a seasonal membership base of 20 families through the A Community of Families in Nature (CFIN) program that engages participants in ecological restoration, watershed health, and waste removal. CEI expects 80 families (approx. 320 people) to participate in member events and another 100 families (approx. 400 people) to participate in seasonal public events over the next year. 

CEI will also host monthly cleanups and offer guided hikes, scavenger hunts, and nature art projects. They will continue to enhance the “Adopt a Stream” spot in collaboration with Columbia Association and explore how CEI can support the incubation and success of local initiatives with similar goals. 

The PREP grant helps with storage sheds, event supplies, guest speaker fees, program director, event leader, and maker space coordinator wages, 12 seasonal member sponsorships, and operational costs such as liability insurance and the CEI Truck.  

Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park Logo

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park

Project: Mobile Visitor Center

The Mobile Visitor Center (MVC) visits the most populated areas within the Patapsco Valley State Park providing bilingual environmental education. As a recipient of a 2021 prep grant, the MVC visited Howard County events such as Truck of Treat and GreenFest, providing education on water quality, reducing plastics, education programs, and more.  

In year two of the PREP grant program, the MVC will continue to promote awareness within and outside the park 5-6 days a week. The MVC offers unique educational features such as a lending library, programs such as roving interpretation (staging at popular trail heads to talk to visitors about Leave No Trace Ethics and providing reusable bags for trash removal), activities such as nature bingo, nature journaling, and tree identification, and events such as litter cleanups, trail workdays, and tree plantings.  

In year two the program will expand offerings to include stream snorkeling, train history, backyard birdfeeders, sensory kits, and others and will take part in events in the park such as Es Mi Parque, Reptile Wrap up, Hike United, and outside events such as Truck or Treat, Howard County Veterans Event, and Maryland Conservation Corps invasive removal.   

FPVSP will share lesson plans and lessons learned with groups interested in similar projects and will use 2022 PREP funds to add an additional bilingual staff member to operate the MVC. 

The PREP grant will assist with staffing, project management, emergency supplies, and program giveaways. 

Howard County Chinese school

Project: Education, Training, and Immersive Experience Program

Howard County Chinese School (HCCS) will host a Seven Day Challenge, hold a series of seminars, organize a short video storytelling project (resulting in a minimum of three documentaries produced), participate in Howard County’s GreenFest, and organize a Green Day celebration and project showcase. The Seven Day Challenge, organized through the Student Government Association (SGA) during Green Week, will involve challenges related to water quality, pollution, and salt usage in the winter, with raffles for each entry.   

A student group interested in understanding watersheds and water quality in Howard County will be recruited to conduct water monitoring of well water. Students will take part in three hands-on monthly workshops, attend field trips to drinking and septic water processing facilities, and test the quality of water at selected households. Students will gather 160 samples of well-drinking water, analyze measurements and report results to the public.  

In addition, HCCS students will conduct two cleanups, build 20 rain barrel systems to donate to the community, make 100 NO Sew T-shirt bags and continue the HCCS “Grow Together Garden.” Three community gardens will grow organic vegetables, soil will be tested, and produce will be donated to the HoCo Food Bank 

Video footage of all activities will be made public and project results will be shared with HCPSS, HCLS, Inaugural Racial Equity Alliance, local Asian American communities, Luminus, ACS, Horizon Foundation’s (HF) past and present grantees, and more. 

The PREP grant will assist with wages for two program coordinators for each program, communications and marketing, office supplies, prizes, water monitoring kits, gardening materials, rain barrel materials, travel, and overhead.  

Howard County Conservancy LogoHoward County Conservancy

Project: Watershed Report Card (WRC) and Youth Climate Institute (YCI)

Howard County Conservancy is building off the project funded in part by the 2021 PREP grant: the Watershed Report Card. At the project halfway point, ninth grade students at each HCPSS have completed 26 stream studies and 13 schoolyard assessments. The project experienced a biodiversity first this year – students found an American Eel at Daniels in Patapsco State Park.

All data collected is currently being loaded on Water Reporter and will be presented in a watershed report card at the annual watershed summit on April 19, 2023.  Through the program, 52 teachers have received training and support and have been offered professional development workshops. In addition, the WRC recruited and trained 40 outside volunteers.

For year two, the PREP grant also supports Howard County Conservancy’s Youth Climate Institute. The program has five chapters in Howard County and exceeded its goal of reaching 105 students. This year 119 students are participating!

The program offers 30 hours of foundational climate training, certifies 20 students as YCI Certified Ambassadors with honors, engages 10 new expert speakers and mentors, offers 10 hours of professional development opportunities for teachers, and 10 interest sessions to other school districts. The first class of Certified Ambassadors with Honors will graduate the program in spring 2023 and currently 14 Certified Ambassadors are finalizing 10 different capstone projects. Howard County Conservancy hopes to distribute YCI graduation cords and pins, create a YCI “digital badge” that students can add to online profiles, and award two college scholarships.

The two programs combined have engaged 5119 members of the public, conducted five professional development workshops, and planted 45 trees and 20 plants.

The PREP grant helps with wages, honorariums for speakers, project materials, incentives, and refreshments, marketing and outreach, travel, technology, and scholarships.  

See photos here. 

Howard Ecoworks LogoHoward Ecoworks

Project: EcoAmbassadors Phase II 

Howard Ecoworks (HEW) is building off their 2021 PREP grant project. In year two they will once again recruit 13 students from HCPSS schools to serve as EcoAmbassadors for their local community. Recruitment will occur not only through environmental science and biology class teachers, environmental clubs, and guidance counselor offices, but also through local community groups, libraries, community centers, local partners, and social media. Each EcoAmbassador will receive a stipend, training, and support from Howard Ecoworks to conduct outreach education and behavior change projects.  

In the 2022-2023 school year Howard Ecoworks will partner with Smithsonian Institute to enhance the program with their Earth Optimism and Youth Action Leadership (EOYAL) program. Together both groups will engage EcoAmbassadors in activities such as group meetings, independent study, networking, planning, and project implementation. EcoAmbassadors will engage 2-3 local partners in their communities, lead one educational event or one cleanup event in their communities (individually or in pairs), participate in 2-3 field trips in coordination with the Smithsonian Institute, and attend 2-3 webinars or presentations with conservation specialists. There will be a project showcase and celebration in May to highlight the EcoAmbassadors projects.  

The PREP grant funds the project showcase, EcoAmbassador stipends, supplies and materials, staff wages, and administrative overhead.  

Murray Hill Homeowners Association, Inc

Project: Community Cleanliness Project

Murray Hill Homeowners Association will build off their 2021 PREP grant project by continuing to engage and educate community youth on anti-littering through weekly paid community clean-ups. One to two middle school-aged kids will pick up trash and change community trash bins. If certain areas of the community seem to benefit more than others Murray HOA will look to install a permanent structure for trash disposal. Murray Hill HOA will also host volunteer cleanup events 1-2 times a year and other more extensive community-based programs on trash education in Murray Hill.  

In year two Murray Hill HOA will purchase sturdy, lidded, and labeled trash bins for residents in the Murray Hill community. This will reduce the number of bags that are exposed to pets prior to collection. The bins will stay with the home even if residents move.  

The PREP grant helps with student wages, trashcans, markers for labeling, and supplies for weekly clean-ups.  

Oakland Mills Interfaith  

Project: Greening of Oakland Mills Interfaith

Oakland Mills Interfaith’s (OMII) PREP project focuses on waste minimization, stormwater management, and outreach and education. Oakland Mills will install a water bottle filling station, provide two three-part waste management stations, phase out one-time plastic plates and utensils at OMII events and provide educational opportunities for member families regarding incorporating waste reduction in their household activities.   

OMII will expand current rain gardens and, in collaboration with Howard Ecoworks, create new gardens to address runoff. Storm drain stenciling will be conducted on the OMII property and a stormwater management program involving hands-on teaching on the Columbia Pathways will be developed. 

OMII will host planting activities, develop Youth Green Teams, sponsor a “walk to services weekend,” host an environmental film series combined with an environmental art show in the OMII gallery space, and invite environmental scholars to provide “lunch and learn” activities on Saturdays and Sundays. They will also produce an environmental fair within the greater Oakland Mills community. 

OMII will host educational environmental events in coordination with member congregations for religious celebrations honored within the OMII community as well as secular events. OMII will invite local groups such as Yards Alive!, CA Office of Sustainability and Climate Change, HoCo Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA), Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and others to attend. OMII will also dedicate a webpage to learn more about the greening initiatives and will continue working with Oakland Mills Middle School (OMMS) on greening yards, planting rain gardens, and minimizing lawn space.   

The PREP grant helps with greening materials, tools and supplies, the water bottle filling station, reusable bags, compostable bags, drink containers/plates/flatware, plants/trees, signage, snacks and drinks, educational materials, and equipment rentals.  

Patapsco Heritage Greenway LogoPatapsco Heritage Greenway

Project: Water Quality Monitoring Programs

Building off their 2021 PREP grant project, Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG) will monitor water quality at 11 sites in the Patapsco watershed selected based on gaps in current and past monitoring data. PHG will collect biological, chemical, and physical data (twice a month) by engaging a minimum of 250 trained Howard County volunteers. PHG will regularly update the GIS map and send data to ACB (Data Explorer), IWL (Clean Water Hub), and the Chesapeake Data Explorer. The data will be analyzed and compared to the standard EPA thresholds. A watershed report card will be presented to the public.  

In year two of the grant project, PHG will expand its reach and impact through in-person and digital engagements such as Bioblitz family events and quarterly educational workshops. PHG will also partner with new groups in Howard County and the Patapsco community that are committed to preserving and protecting the watershed.  

The PREP grant helps with water quality monitoring supplies and wages for a program coordinator and program assistant.  

Savage Community Association LogoSavage Community Association

Project: Learning Naturally 

Savage Community Association (SCA) is building off their 2021 PREP grant, developing new unique learning opportunities for schools, individuals, and park visitors at the new Savage Park Extension. SCA will continue to recruit Girls Scouts pursuing Gold Award to create environmental education materials that highlight the Targeted Ecological Area. Digital resource modules, displays, exhibits, and experiments will be created by youth for youth, teachers, scout leaders, libraries, families etc. A minimum of four themed kits will be created with online support materials and suggestions.  

For year two of the project, SCA is expanding recruitment to include Boy Scouts pursuing the top award status of Eagle Scout. Also in year two, SCA plans to break down 2021 topics into specific sub-topics. Participating scouts (aka Savage Ecowarriors) will select topics of interest and have their topics approved by SCA’s advisory committee and the Girls/Boy Scouts of America. In addition, a website will be developed to house the digital resources along with the YouTube channel. 

Physical displays will be housed in a storage facility overnight. The interactive materials will be made available at various SCA-sponsored events as well as GreenFest and when requested for other gatherings. SCA will continue to collaborate with nonprofit Upcycled for Savage Mill cleanup events and beautification projects and is collaborating with Howard County Rec and Parks to design and establish a new nature trail in the Park Extension as a backdrop for “learning naturally.” 

The PREP grant helps with equipment for YouTube videos, folding chairs and tables, pavilion rentals, storage for displays, speaker honorariums, signs, cleanup supplies, event registration fees, lumber, hardware and Plexiglas, and other project materials.  

Upcycled LogoUpcycled

Project: Waste to Wonder

Upcycled is building off their 2021 project of collecting higher number plastics PP (#5) and HDPE (#2), and turning them into lumber to make a variety of structures including benches, tables, sheds, and flower beds.  Upcycled cleans, sorts, and shreds plastic then into flakes, then heats and pressurizes into a 2X4 mold. Within the next year, they will collect between 2000-25000 pounds of plastic for recycled lumber and build and install between 15-20 structures. About 500-100 pounds of plastic will be collected at community cleanups, engaging 50 or more volunteers.  

In year two, Upcycled will develop a process for a new brick mold using a compressive machine and design a method to fuse re-purposed plastic materials into disaster relief shelters and housing developments. Upcycled will purchase a new extruder that will reduce manufacturing time by 91% and open a new facility to increase processing capacity and provide tours to educate the community. In addition to the collection bin at Savage Mill, one to two more bins will be set up. Upcycled will donate at least 1,000 lbs of recycled lumber products to organizations such as Community Ecology Institute, Howard EcoWorks, and the Savage Community Association, beautifying between 11-16 spaces in Howard County.  

The PREP grant helps cover operational costs such as wages (for directors and a third employee to coordinate student volunteers and schedule events), overhead costs (such as rent), R&D costs, an extruder upgrade, trail cleanup supplies, recycling, and manufacturing equipment, and consulting services.