Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awards $425,000 to UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education

Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awards $425,000 to UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education

For 30 years, the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education (CEEE) has worked with communities across Iowa to implement evidence-based solutions in energy conservation, renewable energy, community agriculture, locally grown food, and environmental health. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the CEEE will expand that work, involving hundreds of the UNI students in the process. 

“Students are eager to act on what we already know from science; they want to be involved in actually translating knowledge of environmental health into programs that are implemented at the community scale,” said Kamyar Enshayan, director for the CEEE. “We are extremely excited about this grant and look forward to engaging UNI faculty, their classes, and community leaders to learn together, to plan and to improve the environmental health of our communities across Iowa.”

Across more than three decades of giving, the Carver Trust is one of UNI’s most impactful private donors. A key goal of the Carver Trust’s philanthropy is to increase access to tools and resources that offer innovative learning opportunities in the sciences and prepare students for future academic and professional challenges. The Muscatine-based private foundation has made significant investments in scholarships, buildings, laboratories and classrooms at the university since 1989.

Audrey Tran Lam, environmental health program director at the CEEE, said support from the Carver Trust will enable the center to work alongside faculty in UNI’s School of Health and Human Sciences, and other areas of campus, to develop curricular pathways which support student engaged learning in environmental health. The experiences will include courses, internships, honors theses and research. 

Additional resources will be used for student project “mini-grants,” to convene a statewide symposium around environmental health, and to enhance the CEEE’s outreach across the state, Tran Lam said. 

This most recent grant builds on the Carver Trust’s previous support for student-led environmental health projects at UNI. Those resources helped scale up the CEEE’s Good Neighbor Iowa project, a public education initiative that champions pesticide-free lawn care. Since 2016, more than 2,000 residents, 200 Iowa parks, and dozens of schools and childcare centers have pledged to manage their lawns and grounds without pesticides.

The campaign has protected over 20,297 children from herbicide exposure, and prevented over 
145,330 lbs of herbicides from entering Iowa watersheds, according to Tran Lam. Approximately 160 UNI students have been involved with Good Neighbor Iowa since 2021. 

“Our Good Neighbor Iowa initiative is a prime example of environmental health science in action,” Tran Lam said. “Since the inception of the program, we’ve not only made a real-world, tangible difference in children’s environmental health in the state, but we have also been able to show UNI students how they can put their education to work in their own communities. Support from the Carver Trust makes all this possible.”

UNI Good Neighbor Iowa student fellows during a Practical Backyard Tour