Grant helps NKU center foster sustainability


Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Environmental Education received a $22,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation on Dec. 5, 2011. The grant is the largest corporate gift the center has received to date.

According to Steve Kerlin, director of the Center for Environmental Education, the grant will help NKU’s partnership with five local middle schools. The center will be working with Holmes, Tichenor, Turkey Foot, R.A. Jones and St. Thomas Middle Schools for the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools program.

The program is designed to evaluate the sustainability of schools and to provide an action plan for improving waste management. A major factor in improving waste management, according to Kerlin, is educating students and teachers about sustainability. By definition, sustainability means to conserve an ecological balance while avoiding a decrease in natural resources.

AT&T Regional Director for External and Legislative Affairs David McFaddin agrees with Kerlin on educating students and teachers. “One key corporate initiative is to increase environmental consciousness and sustainability,” he said.

According to McFaddin, AT&T has been working with NKU for years, and because of its sustainability initiative, the Center for Environmental Education was a good candidate for educational outreach. Kerlin was pleased to know that of all NKU’s departments and programs, AT&T chose his center for reception of the grant.

According to Kerlin, the goal is to have an inventory and an action plan for each school by the end of the 2011-2012 school year. The action plans are slated to be realized by December.

The grant money will also provide the center with the resources to hire a part-time professional staff member and a part-time student employee. The new employees will help with the program by acting as liaisons between NKU and the middle schools.

In addition to benefiting the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools Program, the grant will provide resources for the center to offer travel awards to schools for field trips.
The center is continuing to seek financial support for a five-year expansion plan, according to Kerlin. The total cost for the plan is $280,000, according to a Jan. 3 press release on NKU’s homepage.