U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked off Earth Day today by announcing the 64, 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and 14 District Sustainability Awardees during a visit to Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Joined by Chair of White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Acting Administrator of the EPA Bob Persiacepe, and eager early learners, Duncan praised the selected schools and districts and reminded the classroom that: “Healthy, safe, educationally adequate facilities; wellness practices like outdoors physical activity and good nutrition; and environmental education are part of a vital cradle to career pipeline.”
From 29 states and the District of Columbia, this year’s honorees provide concrete examples of how all schools can reduce costs and environmental impact, promote better health and wellness; and ensure effective environmental education, including civics, STEM and green career pathways. Among the honored schools, 54 are public, including seven charter, five magnet and four career and technical schools, and ten are private schools. More than fifty percent of the awardees serve disadvantaged populations.
In both new and aged facilities, these schools and districts are making school environments healthier, reducing waste, and saving millions of dollars in utility costs. Students are learning outdoors, staying physically active, and preparing and consuming nutritious food to fuel their well-rounded learning. Echoing his recent Video PSA, Secretary Duncan said that “environmental education provides a natural link to the careers of the future and to environment, technology and natural resource majors, which require creative thinking, problem solving and a strong foundation in STEM subjects.”
These schools and districts provide examples of how to excel in all of three award Pillars – whatever a school or district’s resources. In fact, the selected districts are saving millions of dollars as a result of their greening efforts. Read all about their exemplary, yet replicable, practices here. Then, your school can draw on the same free tools these honorees use through the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Strides Resources and Webinar Series.
With the help of these tools, next fall you may even be eligible to apply to your state for its nomination to ED! For next year, ED will provide 2013-2014 criteria to states in July. State education agencies are encouraged to indicate their intent to nominate next spring by August 1, 2013 and schools and districts to contact their state agencies for more information on applications.
Watch the announcement of the 2013 Green Ribbon Schools here.
Kyle Flood is a confidential assistant in the Office of the General Counsel and social media manager for the ED Green Team.