The Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (EASI) was founded in 1991 through a partnership with The American Association of Retired People (AARP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Its mission is to build, promote, and utilize the environmental ethic, expertise, and commitment of older persons to expand citizen involvement in protecting and caring for the environment for present and future generations. Through establishment of its EASI Senior Environment Corps (SECs) across the country, in partnership with such groups as AmeriCorps, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Senior Centers, Offices of Aging, environmental organizations, local government agencies, academic institutions, and religious organizations, EASI enables and encourages senior volunteers — working intergenerationally — to enhance their communities environmentally.
One of EASI’s greatest successes is the statewide Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps (PaSEC), achieved in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Started in December 1997 in 10 sites across the state, senior volunteers, mentoring local youth in the process, monitor the water quality of local streams and rivers. Strict EPA and state requirements are met for quality assurance in monitoring protocols, data collection, training, and equipment. Homebound seniors often enter the results into a database developed by EASI to meet all state standards. This project represents the first statewide Internet database for collecting and maintaining volunteer water quality monitoring data and was the 1999 Renew America award winner in the Community Participation Category and a 1999 United Nations Environmental Programme Global 500 Laureate.
The PaSEC has recruited and trained more than 500 volunteers monitoring 1000 sites each month. This project is such a success that its impetus has spread to other states. Senior Environment Corps across the nation are involved in many different environmental efforts, including pollution prevention and recycling, stream buffer strips, indoor air quality, wellhead protection, abandoned mine reclamation, brownfields, community gardening, and many others. England and Scotland have replicated the EASI model as well, and other countries indicate a desire to follow suit. Several states, including Virginia and California, will soon be replicating the EASI program.
More than 20,000 senior volunteers across America are involved in environmental projects that total more than 40,000,000 hours of volunteer service to help improve the environment for current and future generations. The seniors bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to all types of environmental projects. They enjoy working intergenerationally, which sets in place learning models for the entire community. EASI acts as a catalyst, bringing environmental projects together with a community host site for the volunteers, and providing training and materials to successfully implement the project.
Most seniors have a strong desire to give back to their community, and are eager to leave a positive legacy to their children and grandchildren. The environment is a natural place to start, and EASI has a successful model easily replicated within communities, from state to state, or internationally.