Cultivating the Seeds of Knowledge; Growing a Greener Future for our Nation

EPA Administrator Jackson, CEQ Chair Sutley and Secretary of Education Duncan plant a Texas Live Oak Tree outside of the U.S. Department of Education (Photo by: Eric Vance, US EPA)

Cross-posted from the CEQ Blog

As the bitter chill of winter retreats, the vibrancy of spring beckons us outdoors reminding us of the inextricable link between the natural world and our daily lives.  In striving to meet the President’s challenge to win the future by out-educating the rest of the world, we must cultivate the environmental health of our learning spaces and our students’ understanding of their environment to enable them to meet the challenges of the future.

Today, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality came together to launch the Green Ribbon Schools Program.  This program  plants the seeds to move toward educational excellence for the future by recognizing schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments -both inside and outside the classroom, teaching environmental literacy, and increasing environmental health by reducing their environmental footprint.

Led by the Department of Education, in close partnership with the EPA and CEQ, the Green Ribbon Schools program will incentivize and reward schools that help to ensure that our students receive an education second to none by improving the health and environmental footprint of nation’s schools.  To prepare our children for the clean energy economy of the future, Green Ribbon schools will be those that incorporate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and environmental stewardship into their curricula.

Education Secretary Duncan, EPA Administrator Jackson and CEQ Chair Sutley announce the Green Ribbon Schools program with local students. (Photo by: Eric Vance, US EPA)

This initiative will also help to reconnect our nation’s youth to the environment around them, as part of President Obama’s Americas Great Outdoors initiative, by encouraging outdoor learning. In a day when children spend half as much time outside as their parents did, there’s no time like the present to leverage the Federal government’s leadership to fuel our children’s spirit of adventure and reconnect them with the outdoors. After all, outdoor access and environmental education will better prepare our students to find innovative solutions to tomorrow’s challenges and compete for the jobs of the future.

We want the best for our students, and we all share the responsibility to equip them with tools to accomplish their greatest potential. The Green Ribbon Schools Program is one example of how the Federal Government will work to instill educational and environmental excellence in communities across America.  Later this year, the application for the program will be released, and the first group of “Green Ribbon Schools” will be announced next year. By helping to cultivate the seeds of environmental and educational excellence in our nation’s schools, we can grow an even brighter future our nation.

Arne Duncan is Secretary of the Department of Education
Lisa P. Jackson is Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality

15 Comments

  1. My name is Toni Estrada, and I have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a painful condition that makes it impossible for me to live a normal life. In addition, I have two 8” metal rods and eight screws attached to my lower spine because of several spinal disorders. I do have other health concerns, but the RSD and spinal issues have ruined my life and forced me out of the excellent career that I once lived for.
    Due to my disabilities, I have 24/7 intolerable pain. It is difficult for me to go anywhere or do anything without exacerbating my pain, so finding another job was out of the question until I was hired by NTI to work from my home.
    Although I cannot work a 40-hour week, I am able to work 25 hours or less without aggravating my present condition. This job has made me feel that I am doing something positive, and I am able to help myself financially. My emotional state has been uplifted, and I look forward to having something worthwhile to do throughout each week.
    If it weren’t for the PWI program and NTI, I would not be employed. If this program is discontinued, I fear that I will become another statistic of the housing foreclosure crisis.

    You can learn more about my disability at my web site: http://www.michiganworkerscompensation.org/MWC_What_is_RSD.htm

  2. Dear Secretary Duncan, Assistant Secretary Posny, and Commissioner Ruttledge:

    My name is John Curtis Weaver, and I have Asperger’s syndrome. I work as a medical transcriptionist through NTI. I prefer to work at home because there’s less pressure. If it were not for the PWI (Projects with Industry) program, I would probably not be employed right now. I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI.

  3. I too am disabled and PWI and NTI seem to be the only organizations that can help me as I am limited in physical ability and need to use other skills to be productive.

  4. Dear Secretary Duncan,

    I was a teacher of English and Math in high school for many years. Unfortunately conditions that I never expected nor asked for have rendered me as a disabled person. My mind is just as sharp as it was when I taught full time. I am pleading for you to reconsider the cut of the PWI program. Those of us who are disabled have never requested our disabilities nor the limitations of life that they bring. We carry a wealth of knowledge and experience within our fields. Please consider that we need to work, regardless of the fact that we receive SSD. It is insufficient for us to be able to maintain an independent life. If we can work it helps to provide the mental support that we are still contributing members of society. We are not a burden only, but productive people doing our part. Please DO NOT ELIMINATE THE PWI Program. Thank you.

  5. My name is Jacquelyn Beavers. I have several disabilities that have kept me from working in the past. If it were not for the PWI program I probably would not be employed right now. I feel like a productive human being finally after 15 years.
    I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI. Please consider all the people this funding helps by allowing us to lead productive, happy, fulfilled lives, even though we are disabled.

    • My name is Janice Mattioli and I work for NTI. Please do not cut the funding for PWI. It is a very valuable program. Many people can not work due to disabilities. This forum provides a way for these people to contribute to this country’s economy. By removing the program, you are stopping future people from working. This provides a great service to the employers, employees and the tax base as we are all contributing. The people I work for and with are motivated. They keep us going forward. By eliminating such programs, you would be hurting the economy and the lives of many who could benefit from this program. I am a single mother who has been handicapped for over 15 years. The job I have obtained due to the previous funding is a very positive force in my life.

  6. Dear Secretary Duncan,

    My name is Carolyn Tackett and I am a C-5, L-1 quadriplegic due to an auto accident. I also have Crohns disease, arthritis, osteoporosis & COPD. If it were not for the PWI program I probably would not be employed right now. I’m writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI.

    I filled out many applications, and went on several interviews, for jobs that I was really overqualified for, but as soon as the interviewer saw my wheelchair they basically shut me out for consideration. These disability employment programs are a real lifesaver.

    Sincerely, Carolyn Tackett

  7. Dear Secretary Duncan, Commissioner Ruttledge and other respected members of the Department of Education,
    You can make a difference by keeping the PWI Program, as as disabled person, I can tell you how difficult it is to find work. Through the National Telecommuting Institute, I can find work, and stay home. I have special needs, and I cannot take them with me everywhere I go. I wholeheartedly approve of the education and environmental awareness goals your department is promoting and hope that you also keep it in your hearts and minds to maintain the PWI funding that enables those of us with disabilities to continue to work, support our families and contribute to the education of our children and grandchildren as the future faces of America’s greatness and leadership.

    • please keep the PWI program

      My name is Gale and I have many disability’s dealing with depression and anxiety after suffering and injury when I was an cna in a nursing home. I was trying to stop a patient very large that was falling I was so worried that she would be hurt that I grabbed her and sat on her bed to keep her safe until I could get help. I was able to keep her well without injury. But because of this I was never able to go back to what I love. One on One patient care. So little is left of this today. With Nti I am feeling like a useful person in todays world. where for years I felt like nothing. Not even good enough for anything. This program enlighten my life. To where I can help many people in many ways.

      If it were not for the PWI program I probably would not be employed right now . I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI.
      please keep this program going.
      Gale

  8. My name is David C Calvert and I have disability at only 44 years of age. If it were not for the PWI program I probably would not be employed right now. I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI.

    For many this is the only option for employment, which generates tax dollars.

    Thanks for your time

    David C Calvert

  9. My name is Michelle A. Schoening and I have Cerebral Palsy, Krohn Disease, Chronic leg edema and a collapsed disc. I have applied for help from a PWI funded employment program and I am very concerned that if you eliminate funding they will not be in a position to help me. I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI.

    I walked with crutches until 2 years ago. I worked outside the home, went out with friends, took my dogs to the park, gardened, etc. then I developed the medical problems listed above and became house bounded. Since 2007 I have worked at home thanks to the PWI funded employment program. I beg you to please continue the funding for this as it is the only thing I have left of my prior life. Please leave me the dignity of still being a contributing member of society.

  10. My name is Lottie Lavender and I have a disability that prevents me from finding work outside my home. If it were not for the PWI program I probably would not be employed right now. I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI. I like most people who are disabled desire to work, we want to make out contribution to society and continue to assist in keeping our country free, happy, and financially solvent. Please reconsider the decision to cut all of our necessary funding.

  11. My name is Sara Booth and I can no longer walk, without the assistance of a cane, due to herniated disc (was rear ended by a drunk driver) and my left knee is bone against bone (from a fall at work due to co-workers negligence) leaving me in pain 24/7. I have applied for assistance from a PWI funded employment program and I am very concerned that if you discontinue funding they will not be in a position to help me. I am writing to urge you to continue funding for PWI. If someone like me can not get help because the funding for PWI is discontinued then I fear that I may lose everything that I have worked my whole life to attain. I hope you will strongly consider how important this is to someone like me who has no other options. Welfare is not an option to me… I want to work. Please, help me be able to do just that by continuing to fund PWI.

  12. Dear Secretary Duncan, Commissioner Ruttledge and other respected members of the Department of Education,
    I am pleased with and support the push for educating our children not only with the advanced skills of tomorrow but also the environmental needs of today as well. It is important that our children have as much knowledge as possible to prepare them for their future, even if that future brings a disability into their lives. It is always a suprise to those of us who go through life never suspecting how our lives may change by a twist of fate but however the means, our futures are altered. Like the child that needs the seeds of knowledge and educational supports to thrive and reinvest in not only their own but the rest of America’s future, so do those with disabilities need the supports of programs such as the PWI program so that we can joyfully do our part for America as well. I wholehearted approve of the education and environmental awareness goals your department is promoting and hope that you also keep it in your hearts and minds to maintain the PWI funding that enables those of us with disabilities to continue to work, support our families and contribute to the education of our children and grandchildren as the future faces of America’s greatness and leadership.

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