Now It’s Time to Get Every Kid in a Park!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Now It’s Time to Get Every Kid in a Park!

Fourth-graders on the grounds of Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., holding passes that give them and their families free admission for one year to all national parks, with ranger Kathy Kupper from the National Park Service at left.

Now it’s Time to Get Every Kid in a Park!

Earlier this year, President Obama launched the Every Kid in a Park Initiative to get every child outside to learn about the rich history and natural wonders of our federal lands and waters.  Beginning September 1st, Every Kid in a Park (EKiP) grants every 4th grader in the country and his or her family free access to these places for one year.  Fourth graders can download their special passes on the Every Kid in a Park website.  “Experiencing the great outdoors is important for students as they learn key concepts in STEM, history, and civics,” said Secretary Duncan.  “By visiting our federal lands and waters, students can hone critical thinking and collaboration skills through engaging, project-based learning – all in a real-world context. They can also build lifelong wellness practices and learn how to better protect our nation’s most precious resources through the joy of connecting with nature.”  Educators and parents interested in taking advantage of this special teaching and learning opportunity can find activities, trip planning tools, safety and packing tips, and other helpful information.  You can also follow EKiP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. >>>>


States Solicit 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Applicants

Participating state education authorities have launched 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) competitions with deadlines to submit to them this winter.  For applications, interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact their state education agencies.  Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are only eligible if nominated by state authorities.  State education authorities’ participation is voluntary.  Hearing from interested applicants may be helpful to those states considering participation.  State education authorities can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website and may contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.


Meet More of the 2015 Honorees

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools are demonstrating innovative practices for all to follow: 


Hillcrest Elementary School, Oak Harbor, Wash.

Hillcrest Elementary began a collaborative courtyard garden with the Oak Harbor Garden Club in 2010.  Students now plant, weed, harvest, study insect anatomy, and learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly.  Hillcrest has a covered outdoor classroom, with white board and seating, and, in 2012, added 12 new raised beds built by staff and Navy Partners in Education.  Produce from the garden is given to families and donated to a food bank.  In 2014, Hillcrest purchased chicks, and rotated them among classrooms.  Students visit the chickens daily, write about chicken behavior, collect the eggs, feed the chickens, and know each by name.  The eggs are sold and the money donated to a local food bank.  Hillcrest has replaced 25-year-old carpet with tiles and recycled materials, changed to LED lights, replaced the old boiler with a new cast iron condensing boiler, replaced the old water tank with a new condensing hot water tank, and changed to green cleaning products.  Hillcrest participates in Washington Green Schools and uses Leave No Trace, Project Bluebird, and FOSS materials to teach outdoor education.  It uses National Geographic Kids, Scholastic News, and Time for Kids for expository reading.  Hillcrest participates in Safe Routes to School, Fuel Up to Play 60, Let’s Move Active Schools, and Fitnessgram.  >>>>

Hillcrest students in Oak Harbor, Wash. name, monitor life cycle, graph growth, write about, and care for their school chickens.

Rockford Middle School – Center for Environmental Studies, Rockford, Minn.

Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental Studies (RMS-CES) classes include: From Grass to Glass, Reducing Carbon Footprints, Trees and Their Uses, Mining in Minnesota, Invasive Species, and Water Quality Testing.  Students oversaw a waste challenge, auditing waste, creating signage, and calling catalogue companies to reduce unnecessary paper.  Education about composting diverted 47 tons of organic waste from a landfill into compost.  Fifth and sixth graders planted a rain garden with the local water authority.  After-school activities include Future Farmers of America, Envirothon, and Green Team.  Professional development offered by the Department of Natural Resources, Jeffers Foundation, Minnesota Association for Environmental Education, Project WET, Project WILD, and PLT provide teachers with ways to take classes outside and incorporate environmental lessons.  The agriculture curriculum includes U.S. and state gardening, animal science, soil and water science, horticulture, agricultural history, and careers in agriculture.  Students go to Baker Near Wilderness Settlement for outdoor education two times a year.  They engage in invasive species removal, trail clean-up, and wetlands maintenance work.  RMS-CES participates in farm to school and has a school garden.  An efficient new HVAC system and a new roof on one-third of the building help reduce energy use and costs, and all classroom spaces have made the transition to motion-sensor lighting.  >>>>

Rockford MS
A Rockford Middle School student in Rockford, Minn. makes observations about an owl during a visit from the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.

Seeley-Swan High School, Seeley Lake, Mont.

Seeley-Swan High School has established a baseline, developed a plan, and implemented sustainability practices.  Seeley-Swan conducted an energy audit and is using Energy Cap software.  The school has developed a list of energy conservation behaviors, and conducted energy conservation professional development.  Because of its rural location, Seeley-Swan teachers and administrators take the recycling to the City of Missoula monthly, loading up their trucks with students auditing their recycling before it goes.  The high school partnered with the nearby elementary school and charitable organizations to establish safe bike routes, disseminate safe practices, and provide every student with a helmet.  Seeley-Swan High participates in Let’s Move Missoula!, and offers Brain Breaks for movement during the course of the day, along with significant outdoor physical activity programming.  The high school built a greenhouse, offering 1300 square feet of student-managed organic gardening, using low-tech sustainable methods inspired by local farmers.  The produce is used in the school cafeteria and scraps are composted.  Seeley-Swan offers a Geography of Food class, conducts field studies in science, and encourages nature journaling in English.  The geography class works with second graders at nearby Seeley Elementary, planting gardens and working on composting.  English requires a semester-long sustainability-focused writing project.  Algebra students collect data on each classroom’s use of lighting.  Students work on a stream restoration project, stocking the stream with fish and recording data that informs the U.S. Forest Service and watershed groups’ policies.  >>>>

Students at Seeley-Swan High School in Seeley Lake, Mont. pick vegetables for lunch.

Wilson Focus School, Omaha, Neb.

Wilson Focus School (WFS) placed first in Nebraska in 2011 in the nutrition and fitness program Fuel Up to Play 60.  Physical activities include tap dance, jazz dance, hip hop, yoga, outdoor sports, playground pals, Taekwondo, archery, and walking and biking clubs.  There are 11 raised garden beds, and each classroom is responsible for one bed.  The produce is used in cooking enrichment, science classes, and school lunches; distributed to take home; and sold by the garden club.  These beds, and their accompanying compost bin, and rain barrels have helped the students to learn about erosion, water conservation, engineering, math, and how nutrients from organic waste can cycle through the environment.  Students are part of a team that gathers recycling from around the building.  WFS participates in Omaha Public Schools Green Schools initiative and has received ENERGY STAR recognition every year from 2012 to 2014.  Students learn agricultural practices of various regions and how people in other cultures interact with their environment.  They study the long-term effects of pollution in their science courses, and use math and graphing skills to document trends over time.  In reading classes, nonfiction selections relate to the environment and renewable energy.  WFS partners with Camp Kitaki to send sixth-grade students to two days of outdoor education full of learning activities, including visiting a pond, lake, canoeing, GPS hiking, astronomy and rock climbing.  >>>>

Wilson Focus School
Wilson Focus School students sort and recycle their Grab and Go breakfast waste in Omaha, Neb.

Resources and Opportunities

Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Fall

The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes sessions offered by federal agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  Check out the webinar calendar and submit suggestions of webinars on school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to so that we may promote them.

October 1, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m.   InSight NASA Next Mars Mission (NASA)

October 5, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m.   Making Water on a Desert Planet  (NASA)

October 7, 2015, 2:00-3:00 p.m.   America Recycles Day – Event Planning (KAB)

October 7, 2015, 6:00-7:00 p.m.   Journey to MARS:  Mars Needs Food (NASA)

October 8, 2015, 1:00–2:30 p.m.  Comprehensive Recycling Program (AASHE)

October 8, 2015, 6:00-7:00 p.m.    Journey to MARS:  Getting Dirty on Mars (NASA)

October 13, 2015, 1:00-1:30 p.m.  Farm to School 101 (HSC)

October 13, 2015, 2:00-3:00 p.m.  Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

October 13, 2015, 2:00-3:30 p.m.   ENERGY STAR Green Building Rating System (EPA)

October 15, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m.  Multidimensional Kinematics (NASA)

October 19, 2015, 6:00-7:00 p.m.  Digital Library of STEM Resources (NASA)

October 20, 2015, 2:00-3:00 p.m.  Collaborative for High Performing Schools (CHPS)

October 21, 2015, 6:30-7:30 p.m.  Investigating the Climate System (NASA)

October 22, 2015, 1:00-2:00 p.m.  How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR (EPA)

October 27, 2015, 1:00-2:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

October 27, 2015, 2:00-3:00 p.m.  Operation Report Card (CHPS)

October 28, 2015, 1:00-2:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

October 29, 2015, 1:00-2:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

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Global Goals for Sustainable Development Offers “World’s Largest Lesson”

In September, world leaders signed the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which aim to end poverty, inequality and climate change.  The World’s Largest Lesson aims to communicate the goals to children around the world.  Creative and engaging content, in the form of a film, comics, and lesson plans, encourage children to take individual action to make positive change in their community.  You can find The Global Goals for Sustainable Development on Facebook (@TheGlobalGoals) and The World’s Largest Lesson on Twitter (@TheWorldsLesson).  >>>>

NWF logo

National Wildlife Federation Launches, a new website sponsored by National Wildlife Federation, contains educational materials for middle and high schools and colleges.  The site also contains guides for student action, case examples of on-campus greenhouse gas reduction programs, and meets Next Generation Science Standards and states’ new learning standards.  >>>>

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Whole Kids Foundation Offers School Salad Bar, Garden, & Healthy Kids Grants

The Whole Foods Salad Bar grant program gives a salad bar along with the training needed to implement a school salad bar program successfully.  Applications are available year round.  The School Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to a K-12 school, or a nonprofit working in partnership with a K-12 school, to support an edible garden on school grounds.  Garden grant applications are due by Oct. 31. The Healthy Kids Innovation Grant aims to bring together multi-sector leaders in food, health, fitness, and technology in support of the next big idea.  Grants range from $15,000-$25,000 and fund innovations that have been piloted in at least one classroom, and are ready to scale to the next level. Letters of intent are due Oct. 31st.  >>>>


EPA releases new Indoor Air Quality Assessment Mobile App

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently launched a new mobile app to assist schools with conducting indoor air quality assessments (IAQ). The School IAQ Assessment app provides direct guidance from EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit to help protect the health of children and staff.  >>>>



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October is National Farm to School Month…

National Farm to School Month was designated by Congress to symbolize the growing importance of farm to school programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies, and educate children about the origins of food.  The National Farm to School Network has developed resources and activities to promote Farm to School Month in schools, communities, and media outlets. >>>>

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…And Campus Sustainability Month

Campus Sustainability Month (CSM) is a celebration of sustainability in higher education. During this month, colleges and universities organize events on campus and elsewhere to engage and inspire incoming students and other campus stakeholders to become sustainability change agents. Events include teach ins, sustainability pledge-drives, zero energy concerts, waste audits, green sporting events, letter writing campaigns, and service projects.  >>>>


The American School Health Association Annual Conference is Oct. 15-17 in Orlando

The mission of the American School Health Association is to transform all schools into places where every student learns and thrives. >>>>


The NAAEE Annual Conference is Oct. 15-18th in San Diego

The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has its annual conference Oct. 14-18th in San Diego with the theme of “Building a Stronger and More Inclusive Movement.”  >>>>


The CEFPI Annual Conference is Oct. 22-26th in San Diego

The Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI) hosts an annual conference for those who plan, design, equip, furnish, and maintain places where students learn, this year under the theme “Outside Out.”  >>>>

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Food Day is Oct. 24th, 2015

This year, Food Day has the theme "Toward a Greener Diet."  Hundreds of events are being planned on and around October 24th in all 50 states.  >>>>

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The AASHE Annual Conference is Oct. 25 – 28th in Minneapolis

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2015 Conference & Expo, themed “Transforming Sustainability Education,” will convene a diverse group of campus representatives including faculty, students, sustainability officers, staff, administrators and presidents together with business, non-profit, government and community members for a sustainable celebration.  >>>>

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America Recycles Day is Nov. 15

Sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day promotes and celebrates recycling.  This year’s America Recycles Day theme, “Bathroom, Bags, and Gadgets,” focuses on bathroom products, plastic bags, and electronics recycling to educate on some of the less commonly recycled products.  Get ideas and register your event.  Also register your school for the Recycle Bowl before Oct. 13th.  >>>>


Mark Your Calendar for the Green Schools Conference & Expo in Pittsburgh

The Green Schools Conference & Expo brings together educators, school administrators, business and community leaders, nonprofit partners, green building professionals, students, parents, and many others. Make note of the sixth annual conference and expo scheduled for March 31-April 1.  Early registration information will be available soon.  Until Oct. 2nd, the Conference & Expo is accepting proposals from potential presenters and applications from reviewers.  Until Oct. 2nd, the Conference & Expo is accepting proposals from potential presenters and applications from reviewers.  >>>>


Connect with Green Strides

Green Strides: Resources for School Facilities, Health, and Environment
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
Facebook: @EDGreenRibbonSchools
Twitter: @EDGreenRibbon
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