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Environmental Health Science Education for Rural Youth

Grant Details
Federal ID#: 
NIH/National Center for Research Resources

The Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS) at the University of Montana has formed a productive partnership with Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in Pablo, Montana, in a subcontractual relationship throughout the planning and implementation phases of a proposed SEPA project called "Environmental Health Science Education for Rural Youth." An underlying precept in this proposal is acknowledgement of the commonality and shared disadvantaged conditions among all residents of Montana when it comes to dealing with environmental health concerns in the face of nearly universal rural healthcare provider shortages, limited educational resources, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure. The goal of this proposal is to improve science literacy by making information and materials culturally appropriate and comprehensible to a broad audience, including Native Americans, rural residents, and groups most affected by environmental health problems and disparities in health outcomes. Planning and implementation activities will focus on: 1) strengthening the partnership among CEHS, SKC, and a network of community-based education groups to enhance environmental health science education at the K-12 level, which can lead to increased enrollment in post-secondary science education through innovative training experiences and career development opportunities in biomedical science; 2) developing culturally appropriate strategies and materials relating to environmental health science, emphasizing hands-on, inquiry-based activities about health-related subjects such as air toxics, water pollution, and public health hazards associated with methamphetamine production and distribution; 3) disseminating information on environmental health science by means of a mobile science center and multi-media programs, making materials understandable, accessible, and relevant for students in the context of rural Montana; and 4) expanding public support for integrating environmental health training in K-12 schools in ways that are consistent with rural needs and the diverse cultural and socioeconomic character of Montana. This proposal will use culture to convey science to tribes and, concomitantly, use science to give greater cultural perspective and awareness of environmental health issues to non-tribal students and teachers.