Celebrating National Environmental Education Week

Yesterday we kicked off National Environmental Education Week. This year’s theme spotlights ways technology can enhance environmental learning.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offered his perspective in a new public service announcement to celebrate EE Week. “We know so many of the jobs of the future are in the STEM fields,” Duncan said. “There are so many great ties between STEM education and environmental education. If we really want to keep those good jobs in this country, if we want our students prepared – I think there’s no better way to start to get at that, whether it’s in 2nd grade or in 11th or 12th grade, than to get kids out in the outdoors with environmental education.”

This also includes preparing for new ideas on how to get students outdoors and learning. To help accomplish this, Duncan will announce the second annual U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and first-ever District Sustainability Awardees on April 22nd at 10:30am EST (watch the event live). Honored schools and districts will have an important role to play modeling best practices for other schools that wish to provide an education geared toward the challenges and jobs of the future, which is why ED will release a report with case studies on each of the honorees.

Happy National Environmental Education Week and, get ready, the Ribbons are coming….!


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Andrea Falken is director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Local School Communities Get Outdoors at Urban Waters Sites

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a 13 agency initiative, aims to stimulate local economies, create jobs, improve quality of life, and protect health by revitalizing urban waterways and the communities around them, focusing on under-served urban communities. At Partnership sites across the country, federal, state and local governments, non-profits and schools are working together to safeguard natural resources for generations to come and ensure that students receive effective environmental education.

Adminstrator Jackson with students at Scott School rain garden

Adminstrator Jackson with students at Scott School rain garden.

In the Los Angeles, Calif., Paddling and Safe Routes

The National Park Service, the LA Conservation Corps, and partners created the “Paddle the LA River” program. Over 1,000 people, including urban school children, have now kayaked or canoed the river. The National Park Service is also developing “Safe Routes to the River” that will connect Los Angeles Unified School District school sites to river gateways with enhanced trails.

In New Orleans, La., a New-Old Watershed Education Center

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation has raised over $1 million in private funds to rebuild a lighthouse as an educational center for water quality and water resources.  The new-old Canal Lighthouse Education Center will serve adults and children and feature interactive displays on the history of the lighthouse and the canal, the ecology of Lake Pontchartrain, and the impacts of Hurricane Katrina.

On the Anacostia River, Washington, DC, Youth Paddling and Greener Schools

As part of the Youth Paddling Program sponsored by the National Park Service, 1,000 kids from DC area schools enjoyed learning about recreational opportunities and participating in watershed education while paddling the Anacostia. Meanwhile, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation implemented low environmental impact development practices at seven schools, reducing pollution to the river and educating students about the importance of managing storm water. As part of the project, DC Greenworks, a local non-profit, engaged 150 volunteers to design and install green roofs, rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavement, bio-retention plantings and other storm water management technologies at schools. The lessons developed during the collaborative design process will be introduced into the schools’ curricula with the help of local non-profits.

In Denver, Colo., Youth River Rangers and a Children’s Forrest Corridor

Youth River Rangers, a green jobs pilot, gives urban youth the opportunity to sample, analyze, and map water quality, complete green jobs internships, and apply for environmental education certification.  The Greenway Foundation of Denver will oversee the scaling up of this youth training program.  In addition, with funding from the U.S. Forest Service and the EPA, Johnson-Habitat Park will soon house a children’s forest corridor for kids to explore along the South Platte River and a virtual online “base camp” to help connect youth to these outdoor recreation opportunities.

In Baltimore, Md., Career Exploration and on-the-Job Training

The U.S. Forest Service helped Maryland fund green jobs for watershed restoration, including urban youth positions with paid arboriculture training and work experience which allowed them to improve the heavily urbanized Gwynns Falls Trail.

In Portland Ore., Local School Develops a Rain Garden 

Adminstrator Jackson at Scott School

Adminstrator Jackson at Scott School

The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership worked with the Harvey Scott School to design and build a rain garden on a school site that had been a safety hazard.  The project involved classroom visits, field trips to other sustainable stormwater sites and a community design charrette.  In addition, partners provided classroom environmental education lessons on soils, watershed, and native plants.  Students cleared the project site of weeds, dug the infiltration swale, and planted the swale and an outdoor classroom with 1,210 plants.

Across the nation, Urban Waters partners are connecting environmental practitioners to schools who help students — especially the neediest – connect to and learn about their urban waters and spark their interest in environmental careers.  These partnerships are ramping up green infrastructure efforts, engaging children in hands-on projects and the science, math, engineering and technology behind them, and providing jobs and skills to teenagers in the promising green sector.  Together, partners are revitalizing local economies, preserving precious local resources and protecting the health of the neediest.

Now that’s the kind of community partnership green schools are made of!

Read about the Urban Waters Federal Partnership.  Find resources, including partners and grants, and informational webinars to make your school community safer, healthier and more sustainable.

Colleges and Universities Lead the Way in Sustainability

A USGBC Students group at the University of California-San Diego helps to divert waste from the landfill during freshman move-in for their ‘Don’t Be Trashy’ event.

Over the past year, ED has highlighted the exemplary efforts of K-12 schools to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental and sustainability education. However, healthy, safe, cost-efficient facilities, practices and learning are not limited to primary and secondary educations. In many ways, colleges and universities, and their students, have been the vanguards of the sustainability movement. Here are some of the ways post-secondary institutions are making fantastic strides toward sustainability goals:

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability offers trans-disciplinary sustainability degree programs in business, design, technology, engineering, law, humanities, social sciences, and public affairs, among other subjects.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, students voted in 2006 to self-levy a tax of $2.60 per quarter, contributing approximately $182,000 a year toward The Green Initiative Fund.

At Portland State University in Ore., the Institute for Sustainable Solutions hosts an annual International EcoDistrict Summit. The Institute’s 2013 Solutions Generator offers awards for up to 16 groups of students to design innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues.

The College of Lake County, in Grayslake, Ill., works to facilitate important sustainability conversations for the community through the annual County Green conference. In addition, the college offers faculty professional development courses in integrating sustainability into classes.

At Maine’s Unity College, students live in one of the first super-efficient, certified “passive house” student residence in the country, and built a campus root cellar and animal barn. Its Environmental Citizen Curriculum engages students of every major with sustainability science and environmental challenges.

At Furman University in Greenville, S.C., the Shi Center, a demonstration site for different sustainable technologies, has attracted over a dozen national and regional sponsors. With a $2.5 million Department of Energy grant, the school will replace all of its 11 aging heat pumps with ground source geothermal varieties by 2014.

At De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., students can join one of many environmental committees and enroll in sustainability-focused classes. The college offers reduced rates on public transport and bike rentals.

In Muncie, Ind., Ball State University boasts the largest geothermal heating and cooling system of its kind in the nation. When completed, the system will allow the university to save $2 million per year in operating costs and cut its carbon footprint roughly in half.

At Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vt., 20 percent of food is raised and harvested by students in campus gardens, fields, farm, forests, and orchards. What products can’t be grown on campus comes from local, sustainable, organic farms. The Sterling Farm and Gardens serve as laboratories for best practices in sustainable agriculture.

These are only a few examples of two and four-year colleges and universities reducing environmental impact and costs; improving health and wellness; and graduating engaged environmental citizens. And students are taking notice: according to the Princeton Review, 68 percent of likely college applicants say a college or universities’ commitment to sustainability would affect their decision to attend.

View more resources and webinars for all schools here.  Connect with the ED-Green Ribbon Schools network on Facebook. Sign up for the ED-GRS newsletter.

School Lighting Upgrades Save Money, Allowing Schools to Make Health and Achievement Promoting Repairs

America’s schools spend more than $8 billion each year on energy – more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined.  About 26 percent of electricity consumed by a typical school is for lighting alone. Often, even more is spent to compensate for the heat generated by outdated lighting fixtures.  These expenditures on utilities could be redirected toward ensuring the general good condition, health, safety, and educational adequacy of school buildings, particularly for those in greatest disrepair.  If your school hasn’t updated its lighting in the past five years, a lighting retrofit could present an opportunity to reduce the amount of energy you use for lighting by 30 to 50 percent and for cooling by 10 to 20 percent.

The health benefits of lighting upgrades are both indirect and direct: cost savings generated by energy efficiency upgrades can be used toward health and safety promoting building renovations and the upgrades themselves can have positive health impacts.  For example, upgrading to newer lighting fixtures can reduce the risk of exposure to harmful contaminants, such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), carcinogens that can lead to a variety of adverse health effects on the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems.  Trained personnel can carefully dispose of old PCB-containing lighting fixtures and replace them with new fixtures free of PCBs.

Attention to appropriate lighting levels and an increased use of natural daylight can also improve student performance. A 2003 study found that classrooms with the most daylighting had a 20 percent better learning rate in math, and a 26 percent improved rate in reading, compared to classrooms with little or no daylighting.  Improving daylighting doesn’t have to involve a renovation.  It can be as simple as moving stacked supplies away from windows to let the natural light shine in!

Des Moines Central Campus High School in Des Moines, Iowa, a 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, improved its energy efficiency through targeted lighting upgrades, completing extensive renovations that transformed the Central Campus building from a 1918 Ford car factory into a modern educational space with energy-efficient lighting.  Renovations to the school’s facilities took advantage of available natural light and reduced the need for artificial light.

Increasing the lighting voltage – or the energy required to move the electronic charge along the circuit – from 120V to 277V helped to improve the lighting circuit efficiency. Replacing all fluorescent T12 magnetic fixtures with more energy-efficient T8 fixtures improved the quality and efficiency of the lighting. Finally, sensors installed in the school eliminated energy waste in unoccupied areas.

As of 2012, these and other improvements have helped Des Moines Central Campus to reduce its energy use by 28 percent compared to a 2008 baseline. The school regularly tracks its energy performance using Portfolio Manager, EPA’s free ENERGY STAR measurement and tracking tool.  As a result of Des Moines Central Campus High School’s success in reducing environmental impact and costs, the school earned the ENERGY STAR from the EPA.  This work in Pillar I, coupled with its efforts to improve health and wellness and provide effective environmental and sustainability education made it a 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.

To learn more about how efficiency upgrades can save your school energy costs and allow it to address critical facilities health and safety, ensuring students have a fair shot at performing at their best, visit Energy Star for Schools and the ED-GRS resources page.  Hundreds of schools across the country are proving that you do not have to wait to improve the quality of your school facilities.  Lighting upgrades are but one way that energy efficiency upgrades and the cost savings they produce can support healthy, safe, and high achievement promoting school environments.

Andrea Falken is director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

ED-Green Ribbon Schools Gets a Facelift for 2012-2013

Now that the 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools are recognized, the Department has refined the selection guidance it provides to state nominating authorities to make for a smoother competition for states and schools in the second year.  The award was created to recognize high-achieving schools striving for 21st century excellence by:

1)     Reducing environmental impact and costs;

2)     Improving the health of schools and wellness of students and staff; and

3)     Providing effective environmental and sustainability literacy, incorporating STEM, civic skills and green career pathways.

For ED-GRS 2012-2013, ED implemented suggestions from stakeholders and partners to improve the site and nomination infrastructure, especially the following:

    • 2012-2013 Criteria explain the program’s purpose, vision, eligibility, requirements and the Department’s authority for creating such an award.
    • Each state or nominating authority is assigned a maximum number of possible nominees.
    • An updated Resources page serves as a clearinghouse for hundreds of programs, grants and tools in all areas of the award.
    • A Framework provides recommended measures by which to evaluate schools and select nominees to ED for eligible nominating authorities.
    • The Sample Application is offered as another optional tool for nominating authorities to assist them in selecting schools.

ED encourages state education agencies to use the following dates to guide their nominee selection:

September:  States begin selection processes.

February 15: States submit nominees to ED.

April 22:  ED announces honorees.

June 3: ED honors selectees at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Already, over 30 states have indicated their intent to nominate schools for the 2012-2013 year.

While the award is designed to highlight and communicate the innovative practices by just a few exemplary schools, all schools may sign up for the Green Strides Webinar Series to connect with resources and programs available to them. The series aims to provide all schools the tools they need to reduce their costs and environmental impact; improve health and wellness; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.  To learn more about the 2012 ED-GRS cohort’s exemplary practices, read Highlights from the 2012 Honorees and a Snapshot of the 2012 Cohort.

Connect with ED-GRS on Facebook.  Sign up for ED-Green Ribbon Schools updates here.

ED-Green Ribbon Schools Prove that Every Month is Right for Getting Outdoors

Young boy holds a worm

A young boy examines an earthworm. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

President Obama designated June Great Outdoors Month to encourage Americans to take advantage of our rich, natural and cultural outdoor resources while being active outdoors.  Fortunately, the first group of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools provides us many examples of innovative approaches to getting students active and learning outdoors year-round.

For example, at Evergreen Charter School in Asheville, N.C., the adventure physical education program includes rock climbing, white water rafting, camping and backpacking. At Thomas J. Waters Elementary in Chicago, students go on lengthy walks, dig potatoes, gather seeds and leaves, go fishing in Lake Michigan, and participate in organized runs. At North Shore Community School in Duluth, Minn., and Fishburn Elementary in Roanoke, Va., students tap maple trees every winter to enjoy with their breakfast.

The list goes on including schools that boast organic gardens, birdhouses built by students, an urban peach orchard, ponds, and even a native medicine wheel garden in Wahpeton, N.D.

Other ED Green Ribbon schools are encouraging students to get outdoors in their daily commute.  At Grand View Elementary in Manhattan Beach, Calif., students are rewarded with hand stamps on Walk to School Wednesdays. Likewise, Bernard High School in Bernardsville, N.J. obtained a $300,000 Safe Routes to School Grant to build a sidewalk, helping more students in the community to commute safely on foot.  Environmental Charter High School students in Lawndale, Calif., operate a bike repair shop encouraging more students and staff to cycle rather than drive.

These schools are taking advantage of a wealth of free teaching materials to assist them in outdoor curriculum development, including resources like:

And while schools may place an emphasis on outdoor, hands-on learning, parents can also teach these skills in their own garden or with a backyard campout.

Though June is National Outdoors Month, every month is a good time to teach students with hands-on and physical activities outdoors!  Using the outdoors helps keep a child’s mind and body actively engaged in critical academic subjects. If we want to ensure that students are healthy, high performing and prepared for the challenges of the next century, they’ll need to stay fit and connected to the land.

Stay tuned to ED-GRS’ biweekly blogspot for more examples of how schools can use environment to teach green technologies, STEM and civic skills, as well as reduce school costs and improve student health.  For now, ED’s facilities, health and environment ‘Green Team’ wishes all students and teachers a wonderful summer of outdoor exploring!

First U.S Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Recognized

ED staff prepare green ribbon sign

Staff from the Department of Education prepare a Green Ribbon sign before today's event.

Today marked another historic milestone for the green schools movement, as the 78 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools announced during Earth Week were recognized at a national ceremony in Washington, DC.  Secretary Arne Duncan joined EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and U.S Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin in congratulating the honorees for their exemplary practices.

The winning schools, diverse in the student populations, and representing 29 states and the District of Columbia, all took a comprehensive approach to greening their schools, making strides to reduce their schools’ environmental impact, improve health and provide education geared toward the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.

Green Ribbon CeremonyDuncan congratulated the schools on their tremendous work, noting their practices to improve student achievement, increase student engagement and provide effective professional development are practices that all should follow, not just aspiring green schools.

While all the selected schools have outstanding stories, Secretary Duncan highlighted Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia, Ga.,, which requires every student take AP Environmental Science, and is exceeding state and county assessment scores.  At Lothrop Technology Magnet School in Omaha, Neb., school gardens, and complementary practices such as composting, are a critical tool to getting even the youngest students learning and experiencing science first-hand.

ED released a document with highlights and success stories from the 2012 honorees. The Secretary also announced the first installment of the Green Strides Webinar Series, to help all schools move toward reduced environmental impact, improved health and effective sustainability literacy, the three ‘Pillars’ of the award.

Honorees were awarded Forest Stewardship Council and Green Guard certified plaques and biodegradable banners made of recycled bottles. This winter, all schools in participating states will have another opportunity to apply to their state education agencies in competition for state’s nominations for next year’s awards.  ED will publish 2013 criteria this summer for states to develop those competitions and will require state agencies to submit their nominees in early 2013.  Sixteen states have already indicated their intent to nominate schools in the next round of the recognition award competition.

Watch today’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award ceremony.

A Green Revolution for All

Two weeks from today, Secretary Duncan will take the stage at the Green Schools National Conference in Denver, providing a high note at what is fast becoming the largest annual meeting of the green schools movement. The Secretary and other distinguished speakers, including Deputy Undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Janey Thornton, mayors from several cities, and business leaders representing companies from Stonyfield Farm to Siemens, will address the green schools movement and how it can strengthen our economy, revitalize our schools and ensure access to green school benefits for all.

The Secretary’s appearance and the growing popularity of this conference signal a new milestone in green schools, coinciding with the inaugural year of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program. ED’s new Environmental Justice Strategy explains how ED-GRS is just one initiative supporting a goal at the very heart of ED’s mission: assuring equal educational opportunity for every student. ED-GRS, among other initiatives, helps suggest ways to address the adverse health and environmental conditions that disproportionately affect student achievement among minority and low-income populations.

Over the past months, we’ve all seen how ED-GRS is encouraging state education agencies and school communities to consider the intersection of environment, health and education; putting a range of existing resources in one place for their use; and facilitating experts to help schools become healthier, safer and easier on the environment.

For this reason, ED-GRS plays an important part in ED’s Environmental Justice Strategy, responding to a Presidential Executive Order, which explains how the Department’s policies, programs, and activities aim to increase access for all to healthy, safe and high-achievement promoting environments. The strategy is available for public comment through March 26th and is one of several initiatives in which ED takes part, including America’s Great Outdoors and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, to make good on the President Obama’s commitment to healthy environments and sustainable economies for all Americans.

The draft strategy makes it plain that the green schools movement, with its focus on environment, health, economy and education aims to do more than help our economy and nation grow sustainably.  Just as importantly, this veritable green schools revolution is helping to ensure fairness and opportunity for all of our nation’s students. 

Comment on ED’s draft Environmental Justice Strategy.

See all U.S. Department of Education environment blogs.

Connect with U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools on Facebook.

Please note:  U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.

 

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools: For an Education Built to Last

Last week President Obama asked us to work together to create an America built to last — one that thrives on innovation, collaboration, affordable education and spending within our means.   As part of this effort, the U.S. Department of Education is working to encourage sustainable schools where facilities, health and education practices combine to support the nation’s needs in the long term.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognizes public and private schools for meeting some of the most critical challenges of our time.  All schools are capable of reducing their energy consumption, and some are even candidates for renewable energy projects.  Every school can implement a coordinated school health program that addresses student health, fitness and nutrition to improve academic achievement.  And every school can offer students a well-rounded environmental education with strong science and mathematics foundations—an education that can help students learn robust civics skills and environmental stewardship as they enhance their career and college preparedness.

ED-GRS is just one effort by the Department of Education that addresses the environmental factors that can improve a child’s ability to learn.  To ensure the health and wellness of all students, ED collaborates with the First Lady’s Let’s Move!, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Surgeon General’s office to underscore the link between good health and positive academic outcomes.

ED has proposed a $265 million grant to expand support for the subjects important to a complete curriculum, including environmental literacy.  As the President said, in order to fill the innovation and research –based jobs our nation’s companies require, students must engage early and stay hooked on the critical science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.  Environmental education engages students in these subjects, and a host of others.

To assist older students, ED administers vocational grants to help states develop green high school career programs that will prepare graduates for jobs in the green economy and funds energy and cost-saving improvements at minority-serving campuses.  Along with roughly a dozen other agencies, ED is developing a comprehensive Environmental Justice strategy and has joined the Federal Urban Waters Partnership to help connect all students to healthful environments and revitalize their communities.

These various programs all aim to help students achieve, go on to college, and graduate ready for the innovation and high-skill based job market.   Fostering a sustainable education means that our economy will possess the trained employees and creative thinking it requires to grow and flourish for years to come.  With these programs, we set a bar for graduates prepared to invent, renew, take responsibility and collaborate on behalf of our nation.  This new, sustainable generation will be up to the task, fortified by an education built to last.

Find grants and programs to green your school and learn about ED-GRS.

See all U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools blogs.

Connect with U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools on Facebook.

Please note:  U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.

An Open Letter to Potential Applicants to the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Program

Dear School,

Thank you for your enthusiasm regarding the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.   The intent of this new award is to encourage as many schools as possible to look at environmental impact, health and education in new ways and to make much needed improvements.  We are thrilled with the overwhelming support for and consensus around the award and the fact that many of you are already taking steps to improve your schools in these areas.

With the program’s three Pillars, we have identified for state, local and school programs what areas of action are necessary to become an U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.   But we are confident that the scope and impact of the award will extend far beyond the 100 or so winners of the pilot year.  This is because the award is designed so that every school applying across the country will be encouraged to embark upon a critical learning process and, in doing so, connect to more resources, knowledge and programs to further its green school aims.

Under the program’s rules, states nominate their own schools, and the application form is a little different in each state, so you should carefully review your nominating authority’s requirements.  States’ forms serve not only as applications but also as self-assessment tools for schools to learn about and address all important areas of the award: to foster health, wellness and productivity;  to reduce costs; to provide a well-rounded education; to increase STEM skills; improve civic engagement; and to generally ensure students’ college and career preparedness.

State applications may not be an easy lift, but you’ll find that they constitute a different kind of work than most awards.  In completing the application and reviewing our online materials and those posted by your state authority, your school will learn about technical, financial and volunteer resources.  Equally important, your school will obtain a baseline assessment of where it stands and can improve in the future in the three Green Ribbon Schools Pillars, as well as some other requirements in the areas of health, safety and environment.

This means that the very act of completing an application in your state or jurisdiction can lead to change and improvement in your school.  For this reason, I encourage you to apply and to take advantage of the many resources on our site.  We know that every school can reduce its environmental impact, improve health and provide effective environmental education.  What’s more, current financial constraints and national academic outcomes demand this shift toward sustainable facilities, health and education practices – not just among a few winners, but by all schools across the nation.

With best wishes for your school greening efforts,

Andrea Suarez Falken
Director, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Apply to your state.
Connect with resources to meet your green schools aims.
See previous Green Ribbon blogs.

Please note:  U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.

Schools Go Green – and Save Green – with Help from Private, Foundation and Nonprofit Sectors

Since Secretary Arne Duncan announced the Green Ribbon Schools effort this past September, program staff have learned about a wide range of free resources available to help schools go green and to save green, too. Green schools are taking advantage of grants, volunteer support, education resources and other help — from innovative business partnerships to overnight field trips at nearby outdoor education centers. Here are just a few examples:

Green schools have tapped into Kohl’s department stores volunteers and funds to implement environmental projects in schools. They send their difficult to recycle items to Terracycle and get a check in return. Schools are connecting kids to the outdoors with National Wildlife Federation’s Get Outside activity ideas. Schools are teaching sciences and developing civic engagement skills as they plan and maintain school gardens with tools from School Garden Wizard and the Green Thumb Challenge.

They are turning to Walking School Bus to reduce transportation use and build regular activity into kids’ days. They are encouraging healthier school eating and hosting educational fundraisers with help from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation PreventObesity, Healthy Schools Campaign, School Food and Fitness and National Healthy Schools Day.

Green schools are implementing effective environmental education with free teaching materials from Green Education Foundation, Facing the Future, Project Learning Tree, and National Resources Defense Council, among others.  They are calling upon Alliance for Climate Education and Do Something for free projects, grants and assemblies to provide hands-on interdisciplinary learning about the key relationships between dynamic environmental, energy and human systems.

They are exercising students’ math, engineering, art, architecture and design skills as well as stretching their ability to think creatively and work with others through school design projects such as Council on Educational Facility Planners International School of the Future Design Competition and Green Education Foundation Green Building Program that emphasize sustainability, health and improved achievement outcomes.

See more free resources to help stretch green school budgets.

Click here to see Green Ribbon’s previous blog posts.

US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is an awards program that recognizes school achievements in environmental impact, health and wellness, and environmental education. The effort should not be confused with any program conducted by non-governmental entities.