Ecology Action Center seeks nominations for McLean County Green Awards

The Ecology Action Center presents the annual McLean County Green Awards to recognize local efforts to improve our environment.  Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 awards, with recipients being named at an online event on February 9, 2022.

The McLean County Recycling and Waste Reduction Award identifies businesses, schools or organizations with outstanding recycling programs or waste reduction efforts or individuals who have played a role in a successful program or effort. While nominations will be accepted for any recycling or waste reduction project, areas of growing interest include source reduction efforts, especially alternatives to single use items (plastic or paper grocery bags, etc.).

The Anne McGowan Making a World of Difference Award recognizes outstanding projects, activities, or individuals in McLean County who promote environmental awareness or natural resource conservation. The EAC dedicated the World of Difference Award in memory of McGowan, an early director of the EAC, due to her ability to inspire and motivate others to take action.  Former EAC Executive Director Michelle Covi described Anne as a catalyst for action.

She was energetic and never hesitated to get her hands dirty. Her natural curiosity and love of the natural world fueled her passion for wildlife exploration and preservation. She shared her love with children and adults alike when she conducted nature walks, wildflower walks, and nature programs. She inspired and nurtured life-long dedication to environmental awareness and conservation in children, college students, and adults whose lives she touched.

In the spirit of Anne, the EAC seeks nominations of worthy projects, organizations, or individuals in nomination for the Anne McGowan Making World of Difference Award or the McLean County Recycling and Waste Reduction Award. Current EAC Executive Director Michael Brown suggested, “if more of us followed the outstanding example set by Anne McGowan, the world would be a much better place.”

Nominations may be made online at or by stopping by the Ecology Action Center at 202 W College Avenue in Normal; all submissions are due by Monday, January 3, 2022 at 5 p.m.

 The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

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Full time opening – Education Coordinator

Ecology Action Center
Education Coordinator Job Description

The Program Coordinator is a full-time salaried position with health insurance and paid time off including annual vacation time, sick time, and holidays.  The position is contingent upon funding.  Specific responsibilities may vary and are subject to change dependent upon funding opportunities.

This position will focus on the coordination and implementation of recycling, waste reduction and clean water protection outreach programs.  Specific roles depend on funding opportunities.  Candidates should possess a strong environmental health, energy efficiency, or environmental studies background.   Excellent written and verbal communication skills are required, and familiarity with relevant technology and software.

Major responsibilities include some combination, but not all of the following:

  • Promotion, coordination, and implementation of educational outreach programs such as fourth and third grade classroom programs in recycling/waste reduction and watersheds/stormwater runoff pollution.
  • Coordination of volunteer outreach projects including storm drain stenciling, creek clean ups, and/or natural areas stewardship workdays.
  • Educate residents at community events through information booths
  • Presentations to community groups.
  • Coordination of special events as assigned.
  • Research and project development to address program needs.
  • Coordinate programs to combine duties whenever necessary to save time and costs.
  • Creation of educational content and messaging to promote program objectives.
  • Update program-specific websites with new and updated content.
  • Management of recycling and waste disposal listings in Recycle Coach online recycling information application.
  • Coordination of annual community-wide waste generation and recycling rates data collection and interpretation process.
  • Assist with 5-year updates to the Twenty-Year Materials Recovery and Resource Management Plan for McLean County, Bloomington, and Normal, Illinois.

Additional duties may include assisting or leading educational programs, scheduling of programs, promoting programs and events of the EAC, working with interns and volunteers to facilitate programs of the EAC, staffing the center including answering phone calls, greeting the public, distributing informational materials, and assisting with the regular running of the center.  Weekend and evening hours are required occasionally.  Position is considered to be onsite and in-person at the Ecology Action Center offices at 202 W College Avenue, Normal, Illinois 61761.


  • Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree.  Preferred course of study in Environmental Health, Environmental Studies or other environmental sciences major.  Preferred Masters of Science in relevant study area.
  • 3 years of experience in nontraditional education and/or community outreach with varied age groups and other demographics
  • Strong communication skills required, both written and verbal
  • Experience and high degree of comfort with web and computer technologies: spreadsheets, social media, WordPress, databases,  CRM, etc.
  • Ability to work occasional long hours and irregular schedules to accommodate programmatic needs
  • Ability to stand for 4 or more hours at a time
  • Ability to lift up to 25 pounds
  • Must provide own transportation, automobile insurance, and have a satisfactory driving record.

How to Apply

The position is open until filled but applicants should submit their application materials by August 6, 2021 for initial consideration.  Please apply via

Equal Opportunity

The EAC is an equal opportunity employer for all qualified employees and applicants. All decisions regarding employment are made without regard for race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, or physical and/or mental disability unrelated to ability.

Ecology Action Center

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist our community in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

Community Solar is now available – get clean renewable energy without an installation!

Do you want to power your home with clean, renewable solar energy but can’t or don’t want to bother with a rooftop installation?  Community Solar may be for you!
Companies managing community solar arrays approved by the Illinois Power Agency in early 2019 are now actively seeking customers for community solar subscriptions.  Here are few things to keep in mind if you are interested in pursuing community solar.

What is community solar?

A large solar array in your utility territory (in central Illinois that means Ameren) that feeds the electricity it produces directly to the power grid. Customers sign up for their own shares of the array, the size of the share is based on your home electricity usage. Subscribers receive credits on their utility bill for the energy generated by their share, and they purchase those credits at a discounted rate from the company managing the community solar array.
As an example: you use 600kWh of electricity in a month, and your community solar subscription generated 500kWh worth of electricity. Your Ameren bill will show the 600kWh usage, with a 500kWh credit. You will pay your Ameren supply rate for the remaining 100kWh. You will pay your delivery fees and taxes to Ameren for the full 600kWh. You will receive a subsequent bill from your community solar provider for the 500kWh – but the rate you are charge for that energy is 20% lower than the Ameren supply rate charge.

Who is eligible?

Anyone who receives electricity services from Ameren Illinois can be a community solar subscriber (Corn Belt customers do not have community solar options available to them). Community solar is a great option for homeowners who have heavy shade making on-site solar nonviable.  Renters can also participate in community solar so long as they are responsible for their own utility bill (and electricity is not included in their rent). Community solar is also a great option for people who might not be able to afford the upfront investment required for a home solar installation. However, the Illinois Solar for All program provides rooftop solar options with no upfront costs and community solar options with increased savings for income-eligible residents. Check with the EAC for details about these options! Community solar subscriptions for income-eligible residents offer the energy supply at 50% lower than the Ameren supply rate.

Interested in signing up?

The Ecology Action Center recently signed up for a community solar subscription through Nexamp for our building. The subscription offers a 20% savings on energy supply (the fee they charge per kWh of energy produced by your portion of the solar array would be 20% less than Ameren’s supply charge), has no sign-up fee, and no cancellation fee (important to remember, you can take your community solar subscription with you if you move to another home that is still in Ameren territory).
Residents in Ameren territory interested in signing up witht NexAmp can do so hereThis referral code at this link will give both you and the EAC and extra bonus when you sign up.  NexAmp will ask you for 12 months of your energy usage to determine what size portion of the community solar array will cover your energy needs. The community solar array won’t likely start producing energy until next year. Before your community solar service begins, residents participating in Bloomington and Normal’s municipal aggregation will need to opt-out of service. If you are unsure whether or not you are getting your energy supply from an alternate energy retail supplier, look at the energy supply section of your Ameren bill. If you are enrolled in municipal aggregation, Homefield Energy will be listed as your supplier (see picture below). To opt-out of aggregation just call their number at 866-694-1262 and cancel.
Please contact Larissa Armstrong at [email protected] or 309-454-3169 x15 with questions or for more information.

Protect our local water supplies with proper leaf management

For many Bloomington-Normal residents, leaf-raking efforts are already underway. While raking leaves isn’t rocket science, some leaf-raking practices can be harmful. Raking leaves into the street clogs storm drains, causing street flooding; if they don’t clog but rather wash down into the storm drains they become a storm water pollutant. The additional nutrients from the massive amounts of leaves decomposing in creeks, streams, or lakes removes oxygen from the water, suffocating plants and wildlife, and causing algae blooms that can result in bad odors and unpleasant tastes in drinking water.

The Ecology Action Center urges residents to help keep our local waters clean by using by using the following leaf management practices:

  • Let leaves lie! Leaving your leaves where they fall is beneficial for your lawn; many residents choose to use a mower to break them into smaller pieces. Leaves are decomposed by earthworms and other microorganisms and turned into plant-usable organic matter. Leaves also make great mulch to protect flower beds from harsh winter weather.
  • Compost your leaves! Leaves are a great source of nitrogen and an important dry component to a healthy compost pile. Start a compost pile and reduce your waste, keep waterways clean, and generate free fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Find helpful instructions to start your compost pile at
  • Don’t break the cycle! The above two options keep your organic material on-site, rejuvenating your soil with valuable nutrients just like the nutrient cycle occurring in nature. Removing your leaves each year can gradually deplete your soil, leaving your lawn, your trees, and your garden hungry for nutrients. As well, keep these materials on-site helps reduce demand for collection by Public Works crews, conserving financial resources for other municipal services.
  • Curb your leaves! If you do choose to rake your leaves for curbside pick up, the municipalities require that you rake them to the curb, but NOT into the street.

Information on protecting our local watersheds is available at, a clearinghouse of local resources about our water and efforts to protect it.

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment. The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

Fall 2020 Household Hazardous Waste Update

Explosive. Corrosive. Flammable. Toxic.

A comprehensive description of 2020? No. Well, maybe. But these terms do capture another topic of imminent concern: Household Hazardous Waste. Household hazardous wastes are substances that can harm human health or the environment.

This year McLean County residents have been carving out space for home offices and homeschooling. As residents have been cleaning out garages, sheds and basements, the Ecology Action Center has received a great many inquiries about proper HHW disposal practices, drop-off sites, and collection events. We know that getting hazardous household waste items out of your way has been a priority, and we’re glad to hear from so many members of our community acting on that personal responsibility to protect the environment by disposing of items with warning labels. What can you do to safely and lawfully dispose of cleaners, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, oil-based paints, antifreeze, pesticides, and similar hazardous household products? Here are your options:

Community Reuse

The fastest, easiest, and most environmentally sound way to get these items out of your way is to donate them to someone who will use them. Online platforms like FreecycleFacebook Marketplace, and offer convenient, safe venues where community members can offer or seek items for reuse. If you’ve hesitated or shied away from these online platforms because you’re not sure how to use them, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you get started:


Some hazardous items can be recycled, or materials reclaimed. Automotive fluids such as oil, antifreeze, diesel and gasoline can be reclaimed through local drop-offs. Automotive batteries and used tires can also be reclaimed, and are accepted by some local retailers. Visit or download the Recycle Coach app for up-to-date listings, hours and contact information.

HHW Collection Events and Collection Sites

These events/locations do not accept:

  • Latex paint – because it’s not hazardous. If unable to find someone who can use it, dry it out completely and discard with trash.
  • Smoke detectors – due to radioactive content, these should be routed back to the manufacturer.
  • Needles or controlled substances – use proper sharps containers/services to dispose of needles. There are several pharmaceutical drop-off locations in the area – see for more information. Call ahead to verify hours and procedures, and please note that these sites generally do not take liquids, lotions, ointments, or inhalers.
  • Automotive batteries – see Recycle Coach for local reclamation options.
  • Propane tanks, fire extinguishers, or explosives – check with manufacturers for disposal options
  • Non-residential items such as agricultural chemicals and business wastes – contact a commercial disposal service such as Safety-Kleen

Locally Funded Collection Events

At the last McLean County HHW Collection in the fall of 2019, our new drive-through appointment system worked wonders to increase efficiency. The average time on site for a drop-off was under 20 minutes, and some residents were in and out in as little as 7 minutes! Fundraising is now underway for the fall 2021 McLean County HHW collection event. We need your help to make this happen! Please donate today at

State-Funded Collection Events

The Illinois EPA is increasing the number of one-day HHW collection events and hopefully will soon fund another McLean County event.  Meanwhile, there are other events within a reasonable drive; as these are state-funded, they are open to any Illinois resident bringing residentially-generated hazardous waste items.

October 10, 2020
Iroquois County Administration Building
1001 E. Grant St.
Watseka, IL 60970

November 7, 2020 **
Illinois State Fair Grounds (specific location TBD)
801 E. Sangamon Ave
Springfield, IL 62702
** This event requires registration in advance.  Register at

HHW Permanent Collection Sites

The State of Illinois provides four household hazardous waste drop-off facilities. Though they are not conveniently located for central Illinois residents, they do provide an outlet when other options simply won’t work for you. Just like the HHW collection events, these facilities accept residential waste only. In some cases storage capacity may be limited, so please phone ahead before dropping off items.

City of Chicago – Goose Island
(312) 744-7672
1150 N. North Branch / Chicago, IL
Tue 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Thu 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1st Saturday of every month 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

(630) 420-6095
156 Fort Hill Drive / Naperville, IL
Sun 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sat 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Rock River Reclamation District
(815) 987-5570
3333 Kishwaukee Street / Rockford, IL
By appointment only

Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
(847) 336-9340
1311 N. Estes St, Gurnee, IL 60031
By appointment only

The Ecology Action Center is always available to answer questions, provide community education, offer alternative options when possible, in order to help ensure these substances are handled properly so they don’t end up in our regional landfills or waterways. We continue to monitor policy and new developments surrounding safe disposal of HHW. We are working very hard to meet the needs of McLean County residents, and are optimistic about our prospects for more convenient options in the near future.  Your help and financial support can help make that happen.

You can help!

  •  Reduce – purchase only as much hazardous substance as you need
  • Route usable materials for community reuse
  • Recycle when possible
  • Take unusable portions of non-recyclable hazardous products to a collection event or site
  • Donate today at to support our next local HHW collection event, anticipated for fall 2021 OR to help support a future local permanent HHW collection facility.

Four local nonprofit organizations benefit from Illinois Solar For All

The Ecology Action Center announced Monday that four Bloomington-Normal nonprofit agencies are among the first in McLean County selected for solar projects through the Illinois Solar for All program.  The solar projects were selected on Wednesday, September 9, and are subject to the approval of the Illinois Commerce Commission in the coming weeks. If approved, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the Wayman AME Church, the Normal Township Activity and Recreation Center, and the Christ Church PCA will all receive solar installations that will significantly reduce their overall energy costs for years to come. Local solar installer StraightUp Solar is working with all four organizations on their solar installations.  The Ecology Action Center is a grassroots educator for Illinois Solar for All and works to promote and educate the local community on the program.

Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) is a key outcome of the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act and is designed to increase access to solar energy for low-income and environmental justice communities. ILSFA works by increasing incentives (solar renewable energy credits or SRECs) for income-qualifying projects. The solar developers and contractors (called Approved Vendors) who complete projects in ILSFA receive these increased incentives and are then able to offer installations with no upfront costs for income-qualifying residents and low or no upfront costs for qualifying nonprofits and public facilities. Approved Vendors are not allowed to charge participants more than 50% of the value of the energy produced by the solar systems. This enables ILSFA participants to reap the energy-saving benefits of solar without having to overcome the obstacle of financing a solar installation all at once.

The Ecology Action Center (EAC) just started its second year serving as a grassroots educator for ILSFA. EAC worked directly with several of the nonprofits selected to receive solar through the program to both educate those organizations about the benefits of ILSFA and to reach residents those organizations serve. ILSFA is a multi-year program, and there are still opportunities for McLean County residents to participate. Larissa Armstrong, EAC Assistant Director said, “We are really excited to see local organizations benefit from the ILSFA program, and are hopeful even more residents and organizations in our community will get to do the same.”

On-site solar installations are available for single-family homes that meet the income eligibility requirement, and for multi-family properties where half the residents meet these income requirements. Community solar is available for any household in Ameren territory that meets the income eligibility requirement. Check the EAC’s energy program site at for details on income eligibility.

The Ecology Action Center’s role is to educate residents and organizations on how they can benefit from this program, either providing information directly to individuals or offering brief online overview presentations to organizations and community groups. The EAC helps eligible residents and organizations access the ILSFA program and the benefits of solar.  Contact Larissa Armstrong, at [email protected] or 309-454-3169 x.15 to learn more or schedule a group presentation.

McLean County Waste Rates Converging: 2019 recycling rate dips slightly while waste landfilled continues to decrease

PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release July 13, 2020
Michael Brown 309-454-3169 x.11

McLean County’s recycling rate stayed relatively steady from 2018 to 2019 with only a 1.4% decline. The Ecology Action Center’s annual calculation of community-wide waste generation and recycling shows that the County reached a recycling rate of 45.74%, dropping from the all-time high of 46.44%. As a result, the County maintained progress towards the new community-wide recycling rate goal of 50% set in 2017 under the new 20-year solid waste management plan.  No single category of recyclable materials saw significant fluctuations from the year prior, while there were minor fluctuations across the board in all material streams.

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Total MSW Recycled (tons)  73,833 85,196 81,302 83,335 88,459 94,804 88,330
Total MSW Landfilled (tons) 121,991 141,068 154,662 120,815 124,364 109,467 104,772
Total Municipal Solid Waste Generated (tons) 195,824 226,264 235,964 204,150 211,230 204,271 193,102
Percent Change from Previous Year 6.96% 15.54% 4.29% -13.48% 3.47% -3.29% -5.47%
Recycling Rate 37.70% 37.65% 34.46% 40.82% 41.88% 46.41% 45.74%
Percent Change from Previous Year 3.43% -0.13% -8.49% 18.47% 2.59% 10.82% -1.44%

With the closure of the McLean County Landfill in late 2018, the Ecology Action Center continues to focus on waste management priorities as outlined in the Twenty-Year Materials Recovery and Resource Management Plan for McLean County, Bloomington, and Normal, Illinois. This includes diversion strategies for waste that would otherwise require landfill disposal further away from the source of origin.  The impact of the new multifamily recycling ordinance in Normal was undetermined as of yet with only a partial year of the program activity.

McLean County waste rates are converging

The Ecology Action Center annually collects waste and recycling data to calculate the amount of municipal solid waste generated and recycled for all of McLean County as a lagging indicator of the impact of local recycling and outreach programs.  Among other services, the EAC acts as the solid waste agency for Bloomington, Normal, and McLean County and provides technical assistance, recycling promotion, household hazardous waste coordination, education and outreach.

Information on residential recycling, recycling of nontraditional materials, and information on disposal of household hazardous wastes is available by calling (309) 454-3169 or visiting  Find comprehensive online listings for recycling and waste disposal at


EAC Statement on Racial Injustice


CONTACT: Michael Brown, 309-454-3169 ext.11                                   

The Ecology Action Center condemns the inordinate use of force against people of color across the country.  The EAC recognizes the disproportionate impact of pollution and other environmental problems on communities of color due to systemic racism.  The Ecology Action Center staff and board believe that black lives matter and pledge to actively partner with our local communities of color to address environmental issues.

The mission of the Ecology Action Center is to inspire and assist our community in creating, strengthening, and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.