Nature Up North Receives Alcoa Foundation Grant

CANTON — St. Lawrence University’s Nature Up North program was recently awarded a $45,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation to increase access to environmental education programming and resources and to create stronger community connections with the natural environment of Northern New York.

According to Nature Up North Project Manager Erin Siracusa, “Reaching the current generation of children and young adults is an essential component of Nature Up North, and Alcoa has helped make this possible. With Alcoa’s support, we will be able to reach out to several public schools in the North Country region and will offer workshops, training, and outdoor experiential learning opportunities.”

Siracusa said Nature Up North opportunities will help to motivate kids to spend more time outside exploring the natural world.  

The Alcoa Foundation grant, which will be paid out over three years, will cover the costs of running an annual workshop that will train local school teachers for participation in the program. The funds will also pay for school travel kits, which come with hand-held, camera-equipped GPS units that will be used to capture and record natural occurrences and data, including location. In addition, the grant will pay for website support and for St. Lawrence University students to serve as environmental educators and project assistants.

As part of the grant project, Nature Up North anticipates the following:

  • Fifty students will complete the new St. Lawrence University “Environmental Education” class and be trained to work as environmental educators,
  • Thirty teachers will complete workshops and incorporate citizen science projects into their classes,
  • Twenty community participants will be trained to lead community projects.

Nature Up North Project Director Erika Barthelmess said the grant will allow the program to expand local opportunities for students and community members.

“North Country public schools are in very difficult financial straits," Barthelmess said. "This generous funding from the Alcoa Foundation will help us provide local teachers with resources that can improve the opportunities for young people in our region while at the same time helping to foster an ethic of stewardship for our natural resources in our communities.  We are tremendously grateful for this support.”

The Alcoa Foundation supports sustainability by partnering with local communities and non-profit organizations to address local environmental issues and promote environmental education.

To learn more about Nature Up North, please visit