Press Release: EPA’s Community Engagement & STEM Outreach Program Recognized by RTCC for Cleantech Talent Initiative with Education, Speaking Opportunities

Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster’s Cleantech Innovation Award for Talent Initiative encompasses the agency’s ongoing efforts in STEM education, ecosystem services, and sustainability speakers in the Triangle area and throughout North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (March 31, 2021) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Community Engagement & STEM Education Program in Research Triangle Park was recognized by the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) as the winner of its Cleantech Talent Initiative Award for the agency’s work in providing interactive cleantech and sustainability programs in NC schools from K-12, colleges, and community events. RTCC’s Second Annual Cleantech Innovation Awards included several initiatives, projects, and other contributions from companies, organizations, and government agencies that are part of  the growing cleantech ecosystem in North Carolina. The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) is an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders focused on accelerating the growth of the statewide and regional cleantech economy.

“EPA’s membership in the RTCC provides an opportunity for EPA scientists from Research Triangle Park to network with businesses, governments, academic institutions, and nonprofit leaders in the region to further EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment through clean technologies,” Said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Acting Assistant Administrator and Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, Office of Research and Development, U.S. EPA.

“RTCC’s Cleantech Talent Initiative Award recognizes a program or initiative that supports or provides career development for people entering the cleantech industry, including corporate apprenticeship programs, community college cleantech certification programs, or K–12 cleantech curriculum,” explained Emmit Owens, RTCC interim executive director. “The EPA’s Community Engagement and STEM Education Program has provided NC residents with multiple cleantech educational opportunities through their STEM outreach, as well as their speakers’ presentations at local colleges and universities, and we were pleased to recognize this ongoing effort with a Cleantech Innovation Award.” 

The EPA’s Community Engagement – Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (CE-STEM) program communicates the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment to students, educators, and the public through interactive programs in schools, community events, on the EPA-RTP campus and, since March 2020, through virtual programming. Cleantech is embodied in CE-STEM, particularly in three of its education focus areas: 1) clean energy using the EPA-developed game, GENERATE: The Game of Energy Choices; 2) Ecosystem Services using EPA’s EnviroAtlas tools to communicate the health benefits provided by ecosystems; and 3) sustainability through the EPA’s Speaker Bureau presentations and sustainability tours (now virtual) of the EPA-RTP campus.

During 2020, EPA CE-STEM led the GENERATE program in 16 classes at K-12 schools and universities in NC, reaching almost 1,000 students. The agency reached a similar number of students with its Ecosystem Services programs through teacher workshops in 19 classes from K-12 to universities. In addition, the CE-STEM group hosted 12 sustainability tours of the EPA’s RTP campus for more than 300 people; and the student program on sustainability reached more than 500 students.

The EPA’s outreach in 2020 extended beyond the Triangle to include classes in North Carolina A&T, an HBCU in Greensboro, UNC-Asheville, and the Cherokee Reservation in western NC.

As part of their Community Engagement, the EPA operates a Speakers Bureau that offers expert presenters for educational, industry, or community events.

NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles detailing the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster’s Annual Cleantech Innovation Award winners, designed to recognize and celebrate the top cleantech projects from across North Carolina. Nominations for the 2021 Cleantech Innovation Awards will open in September 2021.


About U.S. EPA Community Engagement - STEM
EPA’s Community Engagement and Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Program supports EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment by increasing awareness, providing education, and bringing EPA science directly to the public, especially K-12 students in low-income populations. Since 2004, the program has offered guest speakers, judges at science competitions, and interactive booths at community events, engaged in impactful community partnerships and provided hands-on educational programming for students and teachers in central N.C. and beyond.

About Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC)
The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) is an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders working to accelerate the region’s cleantech economy through collaboration and partnerships that promote innovation and sector growth. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:
Emmit Owens
Interim Executive Director
Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster
[email protected]

Emily Smith
Environmental Protection Agency
[email protected]

Media contact:
Chris Burke
BtB Marketing Communications
[email protected]

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