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A state program funds field trips for environmental learning
Changing attitudes is the name of the game at the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF). "We got an anonymous letter," says OEEF Administrator Marilyn Baker, "that basically said, 'I've done some things wrong in the environment, and here's $1,200 to clean it up.'"
That level of response tells Baker her agency is having the right kind of impact.
The OEEF, part of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, is the largest state-run environmental education program in the United States. Each year, it awards about $1.5 million in grants to businesses and nonprofit organizations for projects that help Ohioans understand and solve environmental problems. It's funded by one-half of the civil penalties collected by the Ohio EPA's air and water pollution control programs, and by donations.
The brainchild of Richard L. Shank, who was director of the Ohio EPA during the administration of Richard F. Celeste in the 1980s, the OEEF was carefully husbanded until political conditions were ripe.
"About 10 years ago," explains Shank, recently appointed to the OEEF's 12-member Board of Trustees by Gov. George Voinovich, "there was a big chemical discharge into the James River . . . and the Chesapeake Bay. …