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Ohio EPA awards $5K environmental education grant for Lawrence County native plant landscaping effort


Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $5,000 environmental education mini grant to Ironton In Bloom Inc. to help pay for a native plant landscaping project at the St. Mary’s Medical Center campus in Lawrence County.

Thirteen projects throughout the state were funded for $50,000.

The grant will help Ironton in Bloom enhance a walkway with a garden demonstration to teach the public about the benefits of native plants in gardening and landscaping.

“Some non-native plants we regularly use in landscaping are escaping into our local natural areas. It is important that we try to incorporate native plants in landscaping, when we can, to prevent this,” said Eric Boyda. coordinator for the Iron Furnace Cooperative Weed Management Area. “We hope this site will show local communities how attractive landscaping with native plants can be. Once the garden is installed it will have plant labels so visitors will be able to know which species we used.”

The project will occur in a highly visible area located at the medical facility on community-owned property. Interpretive signs, publications and videotaped local workshops will educate residents and passers-by about the positive relationship between native plant species and native pollinators and the negative impacts of non-native and invasive plant species.

Project collaborators include the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, Iron Furnace Cooperative Weed Management Area, Ohio University-Southern Campus and Porterbrook Native Plants.

“I am so pleased we have received this grant. We are very interested in Ironton residents recognizing and then planting species that are native to the area, since they are attractive and much easier to grow,” said Judy Sanders, publicity chair for Ironotn In Bloom. “The nature walk the grant purposes will not only be a healthy physical activity, but also have numerous native plants identified along the way. The St. Marys health facility seems a natural place to construct the walk.”

The Ohio Environmental Education Fund gives out approximately $1 million each year for environmental education projects targeting kindergarten through university students, the general public, and the regulated community. General grants are given for projects lasting up to 30 months and costing up to $50,000.

Mini grants are available for projects lasting up to 12 months and costing between $500 and $5,000.

Proposals for classroom projects, conference speakers, and other activities that are eligible under the general grant program are eligible under the mini-grant program, but the application process is streamlined.

Ohio EPA’s Office of Environmental Education reserves up to $50,000 each grant round to fund projects submitted under this program.

Just like the general grant program, there are two mini-grant rounds each year, with the next application deadline on July 16. An electronic letter of intent to apply is due on July 9.

For more information, contact Ohio EPA’s Office of Environmental Education at (614) 644-2873.

Staff is available to assist potential grant applicants who contact the office before the submission deadline.

Information also is available online.