Berrien County Conservation District Awarded Earth Day Grant


Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant “Heart of Cook” Earth Day Environmental Grant Committee announced the Berrien County Conservation District as the recipient of its second annual $5,000 Earth Day Environmental Grant Award.

The Heart of Cook is a corporate advised fund held by the Berrien Community Foundation that has provided over $1 million to nonprofit organizations over the last 17 years. However, unlike the traditional Heart of Cook grants that were awarded last week to 36 nonprofit organizations totaling $92,000, the new Earth Day Environmental Grant is a single $5,000 award set aside to help fund a program or special project that promotes environmental science, education and sustainability.

The project receiving this year’s award will provide ready-to-plant tree seedlings to elementary school students across Berrien County as part of a science-based curriculum that focuses on vermiculture, or the study of organic decomposition and soil management. Teachers will be invited to participate with their classrooms in ordering the seedlings, planting the seedlings, and entering into an essay contest to win special vermiculture kits. Children will learn the benefits of planting trees, reducing waste and carrying those positive habits forward.

“This project incorporates the best elements of the award criteria,” said Blair Zordell, Cook Plant Environmental Specialist and Earth Day Environmental Grant Committee Chair. ”It’s a great opportunity to educate kids about the sustainable benefits of planting trees and composting, and how the process improves our environment long-term. This effort will benefit a large portion of the Berrien County community and the local schools. With this being just the second year for the grant award, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of all of the applications submitted this year, and look forward to seeing more great ideas in the years to come.”

The $5,000 Heart of Cook Earth Day Environmental Grant opportunity will be awarded again in 2022. Other non-profit organizations who want to make a positive impact on our environment will be eligible to apply. Beginning in February 2022, the grant application will be available through the Berrien Community Foundation website A team of Cook employees will review the applications, select a winner, and publicly announce the award on Earth Day 2022.

Successful applicants will demonstrate how they can use the $5,000 grant to benefit the environment or raise environmental awareness. Projects that have STEM involvement and can demonstrate a lasting sustainability component will get special consideration. The grant will be available to organizations in all of the Indiana Michigan Power service territory with preference given to Berrien County, MI.