Monthly Archives: September 2010

Let’s Learn About Manure!

Spreading ManureBy Trey Cody

How do you balance production and conservation?  This was the theme of this year’s 8th annual Manure Expo; held on July 15th.  Sponsored by Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, this event was held in State College, at the Rock Springs Agricultural Progress Day Site.  Attendees ranged from manure handlers, applicators, and brokers, to the general public.  The goal of this year’s expo was to educate on ways to obtain optimum crop growth while minimizing the environmental risk.  What are some of these ways?  With help from new and improved technology, demonstrators showed safe ways to put manure into soil.  When this is not done properly, nitrogen is released into the air and phosphorus is added to run-off.  At the Expo a total of eight states were represented by university speakers.  These included: Penn State University, Cornell University, University of Delaware, University of Maine, University of Maryland, Michigan State University, and Virginia Tech.  Also speakers from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region III, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Ombudsman gave talks.  Following the expo a “White Paper” will be constructed grasping discussed methods to managing livestock manure and poultry litter.  This “White Paper” will also cover some grey areas that are in need of further discussion.

Did you know?
• About 20% of the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay comes from animal manures and poultry litter.
• Pennsylvania has about 8,500 dairies and over 55,000 milk cows.
• New York and Pennsylvania are ranked 3 and 5 nationally in dairy production.
• Between PA, NY, MD, VA, DE, WV, NJ, and OH there are over 1.6 million milking cows.
Would you like to attend a Manure Expo? Well you can; the 2011 expo will be held in Nebraska for the 1st time.

Let’s put our heads together.
What do you think will be the major nutrient reducers in the future? Can you think of ways that state/federal procurement can use organic fertilizer? What are ways states can address soil phosphorous build up? How can point to point source nutrient trading be accelerated?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Beyond Translation: Promoting Environmental Health through Education

By Lina Younes

On October 6th, 2010, Hispanic community leaders will be participating in EPA’s 4th Beyond Translation Forum in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The theme for this year’s forum is “promoting environmental health through environmental education.”  Participants from community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, academia, small businesses, and government officials will be coming together with EPA officials to discuss issues of concern to the Hispanic community.

This forum is part of the Beyond Translation Initiative spearheaded by EPA-Region 6 back in 2006 and replicated by different EPA regional offices. Originally conceived as a Hispanic outreach activity, the initiative has been expanded to reach out to other multilingual communities as well. The initiative supports Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority of expanding the conversation on environmentalism particularly with those communities that traditionally have not been engaged in our work and activities. Our goal is to continue the dialogue beyond the one day forum so that together we can collaborate to resolve environmental challenges.

While EPA is a regulatory agency, our work goes beyond rules and regulations. We need to reach out to all communities regardless of the languages that they speak to increase environmental awareness. Through environmental awareness activities, we can show multilingual stakeholders how the actions they take at home, at school, at work, and in their communities have a direct impact on their health and the environment we all share. Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility. If you live in the Raleigh area in North Carolina, we would love to see you at the forum.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Más allá de las traducciones: Promover la salud ambiental mediante la educación

Por Lina Younes

El 6 de octubre de 2010, líderes comunitarios hispanos participarán el 4to foro de “Más allá de las traducciones” que se celebrará en el Triángulo de Investigaciones de EPA (RTP, por sus siglas en inglés) en Carolina del Norte. El tema del foro este año es “promover la salud ambiental mediante la educación ambiental”.  Participantes de organizaciones de base comunitaria, organizaciones de fe, catedráticos, comerciantes, y funcionarios gubernamentales se reunirán con funcionarios de EPA para discutir asuntos de interés para la comunidad hispana.

Este foro es parte de la iniciativa conocida como “Más allá de las traducciones” que comenzó en la Región 6 de EPA en Texas en el 2006 y ha sido adoptada por otras oficinas regionales de EPA. Originalmente concebida como una actividad de alcance público para la comunidad hispana, la iniciativa se ha expandido para llegar a otras comunidades multilingües también. Esta iniciativa apoya la prioridad de la administradora Lisa P. Jackson de ampliar la conversación sobre ambientalismo particularmente con aquellas comunidades que tradicionalmente no han participado en nuestra labor o actividades. Nuestra meta es continuar el diálogo más allá del foro de un día para que juntos podamos colaborar y resolver retos ambientales.

Mientras EPA es una agencia reguladora, nuestra labor no se limita a las normas y regulaciones solamente. Tenemos que comunicarnos activamente con todas las comunidades independientemente de los idiomas que hablan para fomentar la concienciación ambiental. A través de actividades de concientización ambiental, podemos explicarle a aquellas comunidades multilingües cómo las acciones que toman en el hogar, el trabajo, la escuela y en sus comunidades tienen un impacto directo en su salud el medio ambiente que todos compartimos. La protección ambiental es responsabilidad de todos. Si viven en el área de Raleigh, en Carolina del Norte, nos encantaría poder compartir con ustedes en este foro.

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday: Swapping Stories

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.
By Aaron Ferster

Last week science communication colleagues from across the Agency gathered together at a conference center outside of Washington, DC to talk shop and finalize a strategic communication plan for effectively sharing EPA research results and outcomes.

Paul Anastas, the assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, the science arm of the Agency, has placed a premium on science communication. “Great work, done invisibly, cannot have impact,” he says. “Communication is essential in the design, definition, conduct, transfer, and implementation of the work we do if we are to have an impact.”

Dr. Anastas was not just talking to the members of the science communication team, but to everyone involved in research and development at EPA. Never the less, as you could imagine, as those on the front lines of communication we all found his words rather energizing.

While at our meeting, we reviewed communication plans and consulted with one another to identify best practices across EPA’s various research labs centers, and offices. We spent time discussing ways to quantify and track our work so we can make sure we set appropriate goals, effectively reach and serve intended audiences, and work efficiently.

As the science writer on the team, my favorite part of these meetings is always listening to stories about EPA research. This meeting was a good one for identifying great science stories. Just a few examples include:

  • EPA researchers working to build a computer model that simulates embryonic development, a “virtual embryo” that will serve as a screening tool for testing the toxicity of chemicals on the developing embryo.
  • n a research project already underway, an interdisciplinary team of EPA researchers and their partners are studying the effects of near-roadway pollution on human health.
  • Across the country, EPA ecologists and other experts are exploring ways to better understand and quantify “ecosystem services,” the myriad ways that natural ecosystems benefit human society.
  • One research project still in the planning stages will involve tapping advanced environmental monitoring technologies placed on commercial aircraft to gather data for analysis into important environmental such as tracking climate change and air pollution globally.

And these are just the first examples on my list of notes from the gathering. My colleagues and I will be working to share all of them through this blog, our Science Matters newsletter, EPA’s Web site, and other places over the coming weeks and months. Please stay tuned!

About the author: Aaron Fester is the lead science writer-editor in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and the editor for Science Wednesday.

Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Taking the Classroom Outdoors

By Erin Jones

My family has always been interested in watching nature change, – such as watching the day turn to night or watching a turf grass school yard flourish as a rain garden. My mom tells me that she has watched the forest preserves of the Chicago area change over the course of her lifetime. She recalls woodlands being more open with a lot less buckthorn when she was growing up.

In my early twenties I interned with Audubon-Chicago Region. During my internship I learned to differentiate buckthorn from hazel. Buckthorn is a non-native tree that thrives around here and hazel is a native tree species, which is a more desirable tree to have growing in this area. I also learned about the woodland, savannah, and prairie ecosystems of the area, how these ecosystems have changed over the years, and what is needed to restore their health. I was learning about restoration ecology – a relatively young science. I also learned about people implementing habitat restoration plans across the country.
One organization engaging in restoration ecology is Earth Partnership for Schools. Earth Partnership engages students, teachers, and community members in restoring native habitats in schoolyards and natural areas. This restoration includes improving woodland, savanna, wetland, and prairie habitats and planting rain, butterfly, and sensory gardens. Once the habitats are created, they become outdoor classrooms for teachers and students. The habitats allow teachers and students to learn about science, math, language arts, social studies, student-led inquiry, service-learning, and have some unstructured nature play

Each summer, Earth Partnership’s RESTORE program trains teachers and community partners so they can bring Earth Partnership for Schools practices back to their home schools and communities. Today, there are 28 Earth Partnership centers located in 14 States and Puerto Rico. These centers are ready and able to help teachers implement ecological restoration in their school yards and turn the yards into outdoor classrooms.

Changing the landscape of a school yard extends the classroom outdoors and teaches students about natural history and the environment. It is my belief that if we invest more time in exposing our kids to the natural world—then kids will understand and appreciate the environment more and be involved in keeping the environment healthy. I think it is better to learn about the environment and understand the concepts and importance of restoration ecology as kids instead of in their early twenties like I did.

So like my mom, I see changes in the forest preserves of the Chicago area—all as a result of habitat restoration work. Great strides are being made to reduce the populations of invasive species such as buckthorn here. And now, I get to watch the environment change and I get to help create healthier habitats in my community.

About the author: Erin Jones is an Intern at EPA Region 5 working in environmental education. She is currently working on her Master’s in Geography & Environmental Studies at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Special Place to Sit 8 Days Each Fall

Historically related, but less well known than the Spring festival of Passover’s retelling of the Exodus, is the Fall festival of Sukkot (pronounced sooKOTE). Eight days long, it traditionally requires “dwelling” in small, crude, temporary huts, with roofs open to the elements and sky. (Because the roof of a sukkah is often made of wooden slats and greenery—for me, ivy and hemlock from my yard–it must have been the original green roof technology without, of course, the stormwater mitigation and energy conservation benefits we value today.) I typed dwelling in quotes because it’s become common, at least among many of my friends, to fulfill our dwelling obligation by having meals in a sukkah but not spending the nights.

There is, for me, an especially important environmental aspect of Sukkot, which is more than a commemoration of the biblical 40 years of wandering through the wilderness; it’s also a celebration of the fall harvest and, so, nature’s bounty, our impact on the environment (and on farm workers), and our sacred obligation (tikkun olam) to help fix what’s ailing the environment.

As I took about three hours last week to construct and decorate my sukkah—using wood originally cut many years ago and often replaced and reinforced following occasional storms that have blown it down—I thought about the eight days of moments I’d soon enjoy, whether alone or, better, with family and friends, looking through the roof and pondering the cosmos and our earthly place within it. What with the great weather this time of year, and a glass of wine, what could be better—more serene, more contemplative, more appreciative of nature, more challenging, more enjoyable?

How does your religion interacts with your thoughts about the environment and nature?

About the author: Larry Teller joined EPA’s Philadelphia office in its early months and has worked in environmental assessment, state and congressional liaison, enforcement, and communications. His 28 years with the U.S. Air Force, many as a reservist, gave him a different look at government service.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Hot Work In The Summertime

By Jeffrey Robichaud

Boy did the summer get away from me. Unlike one of my fav Sly and the Family Stone songs, it was mostly Hot Work in the Summertime this year. I had intentions of posting a series of entries about urban waters, but instead we spent most of the summer conducting monitoring around Kansas City, across the Midwest, and even the Gulf of Mexico. Although, I have lots to blog about, I would be a heel if I didn’t first give a big thank you to a couple of special folks who just left us.

This year we partnered with Greenworks in Kansas City who graciously summertimeagreed to share one of their students with us to help in sampling urban lakes. Aeesha was a great help to us as we sampled over 30 lakes in the metro for chemistry, bacteria, bugs, fish, and habitat. Although I know she had fun sampling, I think her favorite part was helping to establish a mussel collection…yes you might not believe it but there are mussels in urban streams.

We also saw the return of two of the hardest working interns anywhere, Loren and Megan, who joined us for a third and fourth tour of duty. Both have grown up before our eyes, and learned a ton since the first time we had them aspirate algae off rocks (you really don’t want to know). I’m not sure that we will know what to do without them next year if they don’t return.

So a big thank you to, as my staff calls them, “our kids” who returned to school this fall, since your energy always reminds us older folks why we care about urban water quality. Or as Sly might say, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).

About the author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation scientist with EPA who started in 1998. He serves as Chief of the Environmental Assessment and Monitoring Branch in Kansas City.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Chesapeake Bay Road Trip!

Public Meeting Locations

By Christina Catanese

This fall, EPA will travel all around the Chesapeake Bay watershed to hold 18 public meetings to discuss the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or the strict “pollution diet” to restore the Bay and its network of local rivers, streams and creeks.  After EPA issues the draft TMDL on September 24th, the agency will go on the road for the 45-day public comment period to get your feedback.  So pack some snacks in the car and throw on your favorite driving music, and join in the Chesapeake Bay public meetings road trip!

From the southeastern coast of Virginia all the way up to New York State, citizens in the watershed will have a chance to hear more about the new nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment limits for the watershed.  Starting at the National Zoo in Washington DC on September 29 and ending in Romney, WV in early November, public meetings will be held in each of the six states and D.C. that are part of the Chesapeake Bay’s far-reaching watershed.  One meeting in each state will also be broadcast online via webinar for those unable to attend in person.

Do you live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed?  Are you interested in learning about the Bay TMDL and how it will help improve waters in your area as well as the nation’s largest estuary?  EPA wants to hear your suggestions as it seeks to protect human health and the environment by improving water quality in the bay and its vast drainage area.  And check out the Bay TMDL web site (http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/) for information on how to submit formal comments to EPA on the Bay TMDL.

I’m planning to attend the meeting in Lancaster, PA on October 18…what about you? Visit the Bay TMDL website to find a public meeting near you.

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, and her work focuses on data analysis and management, GIS mapping and tools, communications, and other tasks that support the work of Regional water programs. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science and an M.S. in Applied Geosciences with a Hydrogeology concentration. Trained in dance (ballet, modern, and other styles) from a young age, Christina continues to perform, choreograph and teach in the Philadelphia area.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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¡A enrollarse las mangas y divertirse!

Por Lina Younes

¿Cuántas veces ha pensado en hacer algo especial al aire libre durante el fin de semana? ¿Cuántas veces ha querido prestar servicio voluntario para hacer algo para su comunidad? ¿Con cuánta frecuencia ha buscado excursiones para que toda la familia pueda pasar un buen rato al aire libre? Bueno, este sábado 25 de septiembre, habrán numerosas oportunidades en todo Estados Unidos, incluyendo Puerto Rico, para prestar servicios voluntarios. Hay dos eventos importantes, el Día Nacional de Terrenos Públicos (NPLD, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Día Internacional de Limpieza de Costas (ICC, por sus siglas en inglés) que se efectuarán en un parque o ribera cercana. Al referirme a estos sitios públicos no estoy hablando exclusivamente de amplios terrenos con vistas majestuosas. Se podrían tratar de terrenos públicos como un parque urbano en su propio vecindario.

Este año, EPA está uniendo fuerzas con la Fundación Nacional de Educación Ambiental para alentar a sus empleados que sirvan de voluntarios para la limpieza de parques y siembren árboles. Para los que vivimos en el área metropolitana de Washington, DC tendremos un beneficio adicional. La administradora Lisa P. Jackson participará en el evento de este sábado por la mañana en el Parque Kenilworth y Jardines Acuáticos en la Capital Federal. Hace tiempo que yo quería visitar ese parque acuático, pero nunca me había aventurado. Ahora podré enrollarme las mangas y divertirme haciendo algo positivo por el medio ambiente.

También este sábado, no muy lejos del Parque Kenilworth, algunos de mis colegas prestarán servicios voluntarios en otro evento en Anacostia como parte del esfuerzo del Día Internacional para la Limpieza de Costas. En esa ocasión EPA, en colaboración con la organización Ocean Conservancy, recogerá basura y escombros de nuestras vías acuáticas. Les insto a visitar ambos sitios cibernéticos para encontrar actividades en las cuales pueden participar toda la familia.

Coincidentemente ayer, asistí a una reunión sobre educación ambiental donde habló el subadministrador Bob Perciasepe acerca de la importancia de las actividades manuales tipo “hands-on” para inculcar los valores de civismo y conservación ambiental en nuestra juventud. Quisiera compartir algo que dijo: “Escucho y me olvido. Veo y me recuerdo. Hago y entiendo.” Esperamos que eventos voluntarios como estos que se efectuarán este fin de semana servirán como oportunidades para que nuestros niños se conviertan en ciudadanos responsables a temprana edad.

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Roll Up Your Sleeves and Have Fun!

by Lina Younes

River-CleanupHow many times do you want to do something special on the weekend to enjoy the great outdoors? How many times do you want to volunteer to give back to the community? How often do you look for special outings where the entire family can have some fun while enjoying the fresh air? Well, this Saturday, September 25th, there will be numerous opportunities throughout the country, including Puerto Rico, to volunteer. There are two major events, National Public Lands Day (NPLD) and International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC) taking place at a park or waterfront near you, I’m not talking exclusively about big expansive lands with majestic vistas. These public lands can be at an urban park in your very neighborhood.

This year, EPA will be joining forces with the National Environmental Education Foundation to encourage employees to volunteer for these park cleanups and plant some trees. For those of us living the Washington metropolitan area we will have an added bonus. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will be joining us this Saturday morning at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC. I had been meaning to go to this park for quite some time, but never actually ventured there. Now I will have a chance to roll up my sleeves and have some fun doing something positive for the environment.

Also this Saturday, not far from Kenilworth Park, some of my colleagues will be volunteering at another event in Anacostia as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day effort. For that occasion, EPA will be partnering with the Ocean Conservancy to remove debris from our waterways. We urge you to search both sites to find events where you can take the whole family.

Coincidentally, yesterday I attended a meeting on environmental education where EPA’s Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe spoke about the importance of hands-on activities to instill the values of environmental stewardship and conservation among our youth. I would like to share the quote with you: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Hopefully these volunteer events this weekend will serve as opportunities to make our children environmentally responsible citizens at an early age

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.