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TRACKS Youth Program Wins Inaugural Innovative Education Award

$25,000 grant will help achieve program's mandate to advance environmental and STEM education opportunities


With the help of a $25,000 grant from the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Innovative Education Award program (ULIEA), the Trent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Sciences (TRACKS) program, in partnership with Trent University’s Indigenous Environmental Studies and the Kawartha World Issues Centre, will further their work in advancing innovation in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) learning through projects involving real environmental problems (E-STEM).

Developed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the ULIEA was open to non-profit organizations in the U.S. and Canada that serve to motivate K-12 about science and research through E-STEM programming and education about the environment. TRACKS was recently named one of five winners.

"We’re ecstatic to have been chosen as the only Canadian program in the ULIEA competition," said Robyn Smith, program coordinator and a graduate of the Indigenous Environmental Studies program at Trent. "This funding will allow us to keep honing our skills and develop new curriculum as we continue to provide free programming with the support of our community partners."

Started in 2010, TRACKS works closely with four First Nations community partners as well as within the Trent and Peterborough area communities to engage with more than 7,000 youth annually by providing skills, knowledge, and activities about environmental science from multiple perspectives, namely Indigenous and Western ways of knowing.  Sensitive to the need to foster cultural pride among Indigenous youth while engaging them in E-STEM and helping them to recognize themselves as scientists in both Western and traditional settings, TRACKS embodies the concept of Two-Eyed Seeing, a Mi’kmaq concept that speaks to the depth and richness of learning that encompasses numerous multigenerational and multicultural perspectives.

“We are tremendously pleased at how TRACKS has incorporated the strongest principles of the E-STEM approach to give young people the unprecedented opportunities to build their skills in science and systems thinking,” says Barb Guthrie, chief public safety officer at UL. “They have demonstrated not only a passion for research and scientific investigation but also how this work ties in critically to addressing significant environmental concerns with approaches that encourage social responsibility and the active engagement of all members in a specific community.”

TRACKS will use the grant to develop curriculum materials for an environmental science leadership program for students in grades seven and eight as well as to fund mentors and instructors to work with Indigenous Elders and scientists in expanding TRACKS current workshop series.

In addition to the grant, TRACKS will also receive the opportunity to work directly with UL employees, to realize the full scope of activities in their programming and discuss growth strategies and business development.

About UL

UL is a premier global independent safety science company that has championed progress for more than 120 years. Its nearly 11,000 professionals are guided by the UL mission to promote safe working and living environments for all people via two distinct entities: Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a 501(c)3 public charity, and UL LLC. UL uses research and standards to continually advance and meet ever-evolving safety needs. We partner with businesses, manufacturers, trade associations and international regulatory authorities to bring solutions to a more complex global supply chain. For more information, visit http://www.UL.com.

About NAAEE

The North American Association for Environmental Education is a pioneering membership organization dedicated to accelerating environmental literacy through education.  NAAEE supports a network of more than 16,000 educators, researchers, and organizational members working in environmental education across more than 30 countries through direct membership and 54 regional affiliate organizations. Through sponsored community networks, publications, and employment development opportunities, NAAEE provides resources for educators, professionals, volunteers, and researchers. For more information, visit www.naaee.net.

Posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015.

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