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Harris-Stowe and the EPA partner to bring courses, seminars and career fairs to students

Harris Stowe State University’s administration building on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in St. Louis, Mo. The historically Black college and university is one among 12 who received bomb threats on Tuesday.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Over the next five years, Harris-Stowe State University students can learn about environmental issues in the region through workshops, seminars and research projects.

Harris-Stowe State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 are partnering to bring research and scientific projects, workshops and career opportunities to students.

The collaboration is a part of the Biden administration’s Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity Through Historically Black Colleges and Universities initiative to help diversify the federal workforce.

Historically Black institutions should be fostering the next generation of environmentalists, and this partnership is a start, said Freddie Wills, vice president of STEM Initiatives and Research Partnerships at Harris-Stowe.

“This will definitely give us an opportunity to educate students, train them, and get them skilled in an area that we don't typically work on day to day at Harris-Stowe,” he said.

Harris-Stowe signed a five-year memorandum of agreement Monday with EPA officials. Along with conducting research projects with area environmentalists, students can participate in internships and other training opportunities. The EPA also will help faculty with consultations, mini courses and environmental tours.

University officials plan to host an environmental justice speaker series and other seminars. They also plan to develop environmental courses for students that cross multiple disciplines.

“We are living in a world right now where there are all sorts of climate issues and there's landfill issues,” Wills said. “It takes all of us to be a part of solving these problems.”

EPA officials say the agency needs to build its workforce with talented, young professionals of color, and partnering with HBCU’s could help bring environmental justice to more communities of color.

“EPA Region 7 believes strongly in fostering the next generation of climate champions,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister in a statement. “It is our hope that Harris-Stowe students take full advantage of this partnership, cultivating their passion for the environment.”

Hopefully, this partnership helps students better understand environmental injustice and drives them to advocacy work, said Terry Daily-Davis, dean of Harris-Stowe’s College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.

“Ultimately, I hope that they will be agents of change in the African American communities,” Daily-Davis said.

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.