Western Kentucky University

KUPEE Energy Initiative

Learn & Serve

Western Kentucky University's Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability is leading a three-year, $1.57 million project to integrate service learning into environmental education programs in Kentucky. The Kentucky University Partnership in Environmental Education (KUPEE) Energy Initiative was one of 18 Learn and Serve America grants awarded by the Corporation for National and community Service and one of only five that involves a consortium of universities. WKU and the other universities will incorporate service learning into their teacher education programs, specifically courses that are part of their environmental education endorsement. the project will engage about 360 college students and 4,000 elementary and secondary school students in high-quality service-learning projects that meet local needs. Funded 2009-2011 ($1,540,000)

Projects Implemented in ENVE 560: Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues
and is modeled after the six-step Earth Force service learning program.

A Hole in the Ground

The graduate students of Spring 2009 decided to take on a project that came to be known as "A Hole in the Ground". Right outside the building where their class met was an enlarging sinkhole. Students decided to break into groups and tackle smaller projects that targeted safety, education and water management. These projects included fencing around the sinkhole area, an educational sign for visitors, a website explaining the project, resources for teachers about karst and water quality, and the installation of a grassway and rain garden. For more information, please visit the following website:

Rain Barrels

The graduate students of Fall 2010 inventoried issues on campus and after examining the resources available and the area with the most need, they decided that storm water management is a major issue that needs attention. Christian Ryan-Downing, Sustainability Coordinator for Western Kentucky University, visited the one of the class meetings to share her expertise on the subject. She mentioned the fact that the Pepsi company offered to supply large barrels used for transporting syrup. These barrels could easily be reused as rain barrels for buildings on campus. After hearing this information, the graduate students decided to tackle this project. They decided to make two rain barrels for their project: one to deliver to President Ransdell and one to keep as a demonstration barrel for workshops in the future. At the next class meeting, the students showed up in their old clothes and got to work drilling holes for the water spigots, cutting mesh for the tops of the barrels, and painting the actual barrels. After the barrels dried, they set up a meeting with Dr. Ransdell one evening to present his new rain barrel. The university gardener, Josh Twardowski, accompanied the students to inform Dr. Ransdell of his plans to use the rain barrel to water various plants outside the Ransdells' home. This photo was taken the evening of the presentation.

Project Implemented by Teacher


Duck Nesting Boxes
Scott Cronin: Agriculture teacher at  Muhlenburg South High School

Project Description: Students worked with partner to build a nesting box to be put up in local community around local ponds, lakes, swamps, reclaimed mining sites, and other water sheds. The project is to help the wood ducks have more nesting areas to improve their habitat. Students researched wood ducks, their habitat, organizational efforts for waterfowl, and learned about waterfowl reproduction, habitat, and other characteristics.

Project Outcomes/Evaluation Brief Description: One of the project outcomes is to show how basic efforts can help improve wildlife and environment along with showing students basic construction skills for projects. Students took ownership of their world to help understand sustainability and how public land can be managed in big and small portions. This project also opened up career opportunities for students. Students found this experience to be fun, rewarding, exciting, practical, realistic, and productive.

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 Last Modified 7/22/13