NKU Students Award Grants to Groups Protecting Waterways

Students in Northern Kentucky University’s Protecting Water Resources class awarded grants to two non-profits focused on engaging elementary and high school students in protecting local waterways.

The Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE) and Groundwork Cincinnati-Mill Creek, were each presented $1,000 by NKU students at the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project awards banquet on November 28.

The Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project provides NKU students the opportunity to support local non-profit organizations while gaining real-world experience evaluating the work that they do. Students taking the course, led by Dr. Kristy Hopfensperger, reviewed 20 proposals and interviewed three organizations in their decision making process.

Both FORE and Groundwork Cincinnati have extensive education programs designed to get elementary and high school students into local waterways to conduct water quality monitoring and stewardship work. FORE gets local students in grades four through 12 on the Ohio River to conduct water quality monitoring aboard their River REACH floating classroom program. The Mayerson funds will be used to fund hands-on classroom presentations in over 30 schools.

“It is very validating to have your program recognized by these students, because their generation is next in line in sustaining the stewardship of our local rivers, lakes, and streams.” said Heather Mayfield, Executive Director of FORE.

The Mayerson award will also fund youth stipends for participation in the Green Team, Groundwork's Youth Employment Program, where youth are paid to learn green job skills, become community advocates, conduct water quality monitoring tests, and engage with partner agencies for work and outdoor recreation activities.

"We're helping to foster the next generation of conservationists, and this year the program is fueled by that same group," said Tanner Yess, Program Director of Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek.

FORE and Groundwork Cincinnati’s programs will be evaluated by NKU students taking the course, and some NKU students will  be invited to volunteer or participate in their programs so they can share their college experiences with younger participants.

“The Mayerson Project allows us to actually experience the feeling of giving back, and knowing that we were the driving forces behind the decision making, makes that feeling even more great and respectable. I’ve realized that even though I am just one person, I have the ability, through my actions and words, to protect the water resources in our region,” said NKU student Enrica Jackson.

-Staff report