My Confidence in Future Young Scientists

Crossposted from “It’s All Starts with  Science”

By Thabit Pulak

I watched as the young students of Magnet Science and Technology Elementary poured the sand and rocks into their soda bottles. The kids were learning how sand water filters work, and making their own mini versions of the filter. The interest and pride the kids took in making their filters gave me confidence that the next generation of Americans would apply the same degree of care and attention to important environmental issues, such as water quality.

The students were taking part in “enrichment clusters,” sessions in which they learn about one important public issue in depth. I was invited by 2nd-grade teacher Ms. Claborn to visit her cluster on water purification and to present a real-life example of a water filter.

I had recently worked to develop an affordable filter that removed not only bacteria and contaminants from water, but also arsenic, a poisonous substance that affects nearly 150 million people across the world today. I had the opportunity to present my water filter at the 2012 Intel International Science Fair, where I won 3rd place and EPA’s Patrick J. Hurd Sustainability Award. The Hurd Award included an invitation to present my project at the annual National Sustainable Design Expo, which showcases EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program.

I presented the filter to the class and answered questions, learning just as much from them as they did from me. I was invited to stay for the remainder of the cluster, where the students were putting final touches on their own water filters. Ms. Claborn gave each of the students some muddy water to run through the filters. It was exciting for me to see the children’s smiles as they looked at the clean water slowly trickling out of the open edge of the soda bottle after traveling through the sand and rocks. The filters were based on a water filtration activity that EPA designed specifically for students.

Afterwards, I was invited to attend the upcoming STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) exhibit that the school was hosting. The students’ mini filters would be on display, and I was invited to display my filter alongside theirs. As the stream of curious parents and students came in, I gladly talked about both what the students did and my own filter, and what this means for the future of environmental sustainability issues like water.

This was my first opportunity to present my work outside of my school and science fairs. I felt very honored and happy to be able to give something back to the community. I hope to find ways to keep doing so!

About the Author: Guest blogger Thabit Pulak of Richardson, Texas was the winner of the Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2012. As part of this award, he was invited to attend and exhibit at the National Sustainable Design Expo, home of the P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability in Washington, DC. He was also the recipient of the 2013 Davidson Fellows Award.

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Export Promotion Work at Power Industry Conference

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Marc Lemmond 

I am excited to be in Orlando, FL at POWER-GEN, the largest power generation sector trade event in the world, to help showcase EPA’s export promotion efforts by highlighting EPA analysis of environmental issues for power generation in the U.S. and around the world.

According to Environmental Business International, in 2010, the United States environmental technologies industry had $312 billion in revenue, employed 1.7 million Americans, had a trade surplus of approximately $13 billion, and included 61,000 small businesses. Because of statistics like these, we know that EPA’s work to support environmental protection around the world creates a unique opportunity for U.S. businesses and economic growth. That’s why in response to the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), EPA has partnered with the Department of Commerce to promote exports of U.S. environmental technologies by integrating EPA’s technical analysis into broader export promotion activities.

Here at POWER-GEN, EPA experts are participating in the Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program to help promote U.S. industry to international customers. We are doing this by meeting with power industry representatives from international markets and U.S. companies at the conference’s Global Business Center. We are also participating in training for the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service Energy Team and presenting analysis on the importance of multi-pollutant control strategies for the power generation sector.

Throughout the conference, we will be showcasing the Environmental Solutions Exporter Portal – an on-line one-stop shop for U.S. environmental companies interested in government programs that could help support their efforts to grow abroad. The portal also connects EPA’s analysis of key global environmental issues to U.S. solutions providers in an Environmental Solutions Toolkit. Right now, the analysis focuses on groundwater remediation, municipal nutrient removal in water treatment, emissions control in large marine diesel engines, and mercury control in power plant emissions, but nitrogen oxides emissions from power plants, air emissions issues for the oil and gas industry, and non-road diesel emissions are among the new focus areas that are currently being added.
It is our hope that this work will help support the export of environmental protection goods and services, which not only means a healthier global environment but also a more productive green American economy.

For more information on EPA’s export promotion strategy or the Environmental Solutions Exporter Portal, visit

About the author: Marc Lemmond works on trade and finance issues in the Office of International and Tribal Affairs. He has extensive experience with the environmental technologies industry. Marc holds a Master’s degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Discovering Local Hidden Treasures

By Lina Younes

Recently I took several days off to stay home with my youngest daughter who was off for spring break. Let’s call it a staycation. Although I definitely had quite a long “to do list” of chores at home, I still wanted to make it fun for her so that she would feel that she had done something special during her time off from school.

So, what were we going to do? The movies? Check. The mall? Check. A trip to a museum? Check.  Staying home and watching TV? That definitely was not on my list of special memorable experiences for our staycation. As I was looking for activities in our local area, I remembered the sign on the road that I had seen and ignored many times before. The National Wildlife Visitor Center. Interesting. So, one afternoon I took my youngest to the visitors center at the Patuxent Research Refuge just five miles away from our house and found a hidden treasure in our neck of the woods.

It turns out the facility is the largest science and environmental education center in the Department of the Interior located on the Patuxent Research Refuge. During our visit, we explored interactive exhibits focusing on global environmental issues, migratory bird routes, wildlife habitat and endangered species. We also ventured on some of the hiking trails along the way. Since we were not equipped with a good set of binoculars, we didn’t see much wildlife, but we saw some geese leisurely walking by.

We definitely look forward to visiting the center again. The fact that it is so close to our home makes it even an ideal place to spend some time on a nice afternoon. Do you have any hidden treasures in your local community? Would you like to share them with us?

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. 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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Empowered C3 Volunteers Work to Improve Chicago’s Environment

By Karen Mark

I am usually known as the “environmentalist” in many of my graduate classes. Recently, a classmate invited me to attend an informational meeting about becoming a “C3.” My immediate reaction was “Sure, but what does C3 mean?” Turns out this is a group of dedicated Chicago volunteers tackling the city’s environmental issues.

The Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) is an environmental volunteer program of Chicago’s Department of Environment. It recruits, trains and supports a network of volunteers who work together to conduct environmental service projects that improve local surroundings and the quality of life.

I attended an informational meeting about the Environmental Leadership Training program and was incredibly impressed by the comprehensiveness of the program and the knowledgeable staff. Any resident of the city can apply for the training. Those accepted attend five courses that cover conservation principles and skills in water, land, air and energy, community organizing and project development. The word is out about this opportunity! Residents from many Chicago neighborhoods come to C3 meetings with ideas, environmental questions, or simply to look for ways to make a difference in their communities.

To complete the training program, participants carry out an environmental service project with support from C3 that includes project development guidance, mentoring on community outreach, and up to $400 worth of materials and supplies for the project. Graduates of the training program can continue environmental service projects with guidance from C3 leaders and funding. The opportunities to give back are endless!

Trainees gain a wealth of knowledge and skills but even those with an in-depth knowledge of environmental issues learn community organizing skills and build connections within the city. Additionally, the C3 Student Club program enables teachers and students in grades 8-12 to become involved in C3 efforts.

True to their motto, “You Care. Do Something. We’ll Help!” C3 gives the knowledge, skills and resources for Chicago residents to make a direct impact in local communities.

Are you interested in doing an environmental or community project? Your first step is to find similar organizations in your community. Try contacting your local (town, city, county or state) environmental agency.

I am really into this program and I know I will be applying this October for the next training series. I encourage you to find a similar opportunity wherever you live!

About the author: Karen Mark is a Student Temporary Employment Program intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Management and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Service Management.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Bilingual labeling

By Lina Younes

When I first joined the Agency in 2002, I was responsible for doing outreach to Spanish-language media and Hispanic organizations. As part of my job, I worked closely with EPA offices, especially with the Office of Pesticide Programs, to increase Hispanic awareness on the safe use of pesticides and other environmental issues. Even today, I recall one of my very first live radio interviews during National Poison Prevention Week At the end of the interview, there was a call-in segment. The last question was from a lady who painted the following scenario: “What if I don’t have a phone and my child swallows some detergent accidentally, what do I do? Do I make him throw up or do I give him milk? What should I do?” Well, I told her to “read the label first” where she would find valuable information regarding what to do in case of an emergency. Still to this day I think of the situation and imagine if she was physically isolated by not having a phone, it was possible she might be linguistically isolated as well. Therefore, if she only read Spanish having an English-only label would not provide the necessary information to help her child in their time of need.

I remember that the issue of bilingual labeling came up during a meeting of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee ,  a federal advisory committee, in 2006. Both the Consumer Labeling Workgroup and the Workgroup on Worker Safety discussed the issue of bilingual labeling, although they couldn’t reach agreement on a recommendation for the Agency. Since then, we’ve seen an increasing number of companies that produce household use pesticides with bilingual labeling. I spoke with several company representatives who noted they had taken those steps both for health AND economic reasons. With the increase in Hispanic purchasing power, bilingual labels improved their bottom line.

In December of 2009, EPA received a petition from the Migrant Clinicians Network, Farmworker Justice and other farm worker interest groups asking the Agency to require that pesticide manufacturers produce their products with labels both in English and Spanish. The Agency is currently accepting public comments on this petition from interested stakeholders. We would like to hear from you. For more information on the announcement and how to submit public comments, visit our website.   What do you think?

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. 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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Reaching Out and Getting Back….

By Wendy Dew

A week ago EPA Region 8 employees staffed an informational booth at the Denver March Pow Wow. This is the 4th year we have gone and every year it becomes more special to us.

I worked on the first day of the Pow Wow. I was able to see the Grand Entry when all the dancers come out onto the arena. It never fails to get my heart beating going to hear the drums and see the dancers.

My favorite part of working at the Pow Wow, though, is reaching out to citizens. We spent the last month gathering EPA tribal publications and coloring books for kids. I had so much fun talking to folks and handing out information on environmental issues important for their health and communities. The kids loved the coloring books about the environment. Many of the kids walked around wearing Energy Star “Change a Light” stickers, prompting more kids to come over and ask for coloring books.

The Denver March Pow Wow and similar cultural events allow EPA a very special and unique opportunity to talk to folks about environmental issues specific to them and their community. I cannot wait for next year’s Pow Wow.

For more information about EPA’s Tribal Programs visit

About the author: Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Leadership At Any Age!

By Ameshia Cross

Student leadership is something I hold near and dear to my heart. As a high school student, I served as president of my school’s environmental club and started a conservation group. I also actively participated in student convocations spreading the word about environmental issues and how young people can make a difference. My leadership and political skills helped me when I formed a committee to write to my state legislators concerning environmental impacts of human activity. These days, I am glad to discover that I am not the only one who knows how powerful a teenager’s voice can be.

The Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council is a group of 15 high school students from across the state. These students were chosen from 4-H groups within their localities and given the task of choosing an environmental issue to focus on in Michigan. This year the council is focusing on wetland conservation. The students have already developed a plan of action that includes a written report that addresses the needs of the region and the communities it comprises. Additionally, the students came together to work on recommendations for change…These are some organized kids! This is a group who not only see a problem that they want to fix, they are crafting solutions and working to make sure that these solutions are heard by the right people.

Based on the recommendations and reports the students have drafted, the students are presenting some proposed policies about wetlands conversation to Michigan’s Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, and Great Lakes on April 28, in Lansing, MI. These teens are proving that age doesn’t matter when it comes to leadership.

About the author: Ameshia Cross joined the EPA in December as a STEP intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Chicago. She has worked for numerous community organizations, holds seats on youth education boards, and is active in politics. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy and legislation

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Women In Science: Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

March 1 is the first day of Women’s History Month, and EPA is celebrating by sharing the stories and perspectives of many talented women within our ranks. Over the next 30 days, this page will feature blogs by women scientists, engineers, and leaders who play an important role in helping EPA protect the health of the American people.

There is no doubt that environmental protection would not be where it is today without the extraordinary, groundbreaking work of amazing women. In the 1930s, a woman named Rosalie Edge showed people the importance of preservation and environmental protection. Edge was a pioneer who made it possible for others like Sylvia Earle, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Jane Goodall to emerge as leading advocates for protecting health and the environment. Rachel Carson – a scientist – authored the book Silent Spring that changed environmentalism forever. It is no coincidence that her book was published in the early 1960s, and by 1970 we had a federal Environmental Protection Agency.

photo of EPA Administrator Jackson touring EPA's Cincinnati lab.

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at EPA's environmental research center in Cincinnati.

These women were an inspiration to today’s generation of women scientists – including myself. I majored in chemical engineering at Tulane University in my hometown of New Orleans, and received a master’s degree in Engineering at Princeton University before joining EPA as a staff level in 1987. It was a time when very few women were studying and working in scientific and engineering fields. When I graduated from Princeton, I was one of only two women in my class. I felt a call to service and to issues of health, and wanted to use my technical degree to make a difference in the world around me. I originally wanted to become a doctor to help people when they fell sick. While studying chemical engineering, I realized that I could use my scientific training to clean up or prevent pollution in our communities, helping people by ensuring they didn’t get sick in the first place.

Over time I witnessed the changes that took place and the doors that opened – not just to me but to all women. According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, around 154,000 women were pursuing masters degrees in science and engineering when I was in school. By 2003, that number jumped to around 270,000. Fifty years ago, women earned less than 10 percent of the science and engineering doctorates awarded in the United States. By 2006, that number climbed to 40 percent.

Scientific and technical advances are the foundations of our progress and prosperity. As the head of the government agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment, I’ve made clear that every decision we make on environmental issues must be guided by the best science possible.

The extraordinary women who work as researchers, technical experts, engineers, leaders and scientists at EPA give us the information we need to build the best health and environmental protections for the American people. I am proud to call them my colleagues, and I look forward to reading their contributions as we mark Women’s History Month with our series on women scientists at EPA.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.