Inspiring Students to Learn In and Out of the Classroom

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

The National Parks: “America’s Best Idea” for Authentic Learning by Milton Chen

Our National Parks have been called “America’s Best Idea.”  Congress’s vision was to set aside our most significant places as public lands for all to enjoy. Nearly 100 years later, we are learning that these 401 sites, ranging from soul-stirring Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields to the grandeur of Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, are outdoor classrooms that can inspire and engage a generation of students in ways that no other experience, in or out of the classroom, can. Read more about how National Parks are engaging students in a guest blog by George Lucas Educational Foundation Senior Fellow Milton Chen.

(Photo Below: Ranger Rik Penn is discussing the physiology of Dungeness crabs with 4th graders by the bay in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA)


Bridging the Disconnect Between Young People and the Outdoors

Speaking of parks, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell outlined a major push to inspire children and teenagers to get outdoors to experience nature.  The interior secretary announced a $20 million public-private campaign to inspire ecological awareness through education, employment and volunteer opportunities in parks and on public lands.  This is part of a nationwide effort to improve access to national parks for students, minorities and urban youth. >>>


The Green Schools National Conference is March 26-29, 2014

The 4th Annual Green Schools National Conference is March 26-29 in Sacramento, California.  The Conference is the nation’s largest gathering of green, healthy and sustainable K-12 school leaders and learners.  Some 1,500 teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, food service directors, facilities managers, and other partners are expected to attend.  Topics will include sustainability skills and knowledge for the 21st century; stewardship and service learning; sustainable facilities design and management; health and wellbeing; and creating strong partnerships and networks. Early bird registration rates apply until Nov. 30. >>>


Education Technology Conference: Continuously Connected, Constantly Learning

The CoSN 2014 Annual Conference is designed for education leaders to better understand their changing roles in creating the new face of learning. Part of the conference, CoSNCamp will provide an informal way to interact with conference peers, combining fixed “un-conference” sessions and impromptu meet-ups shaped by participants. In this small group setting, attendees will set the agenda based on what they’re most interested in to share and get advice about high-level education technology issues.>>>

International School Meals Day is March 6, 2014

The 2014 International School Meals Day is March 6th, 2014, also World Book Day.  Schools around the world can celebrate the Day by promoting healthy eating and learning, using the theme Food Stories.  Schools and organizations can connect across the world and share their stories about food through established online education platforms that allow students and teachers to experience learning and teaching beyond their classroom wall, including Connecting Classrooms and Skype in the Classroom. >>>



Food Allergy Management Prevention
President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which will encourage schools to plan for severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Read more in this blog by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett.  The National Association of State Boards of Education also released a discussion guide designed to help state boards explore anaphylaxis and epinephrine policies. Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released "Voluntary Guidelines for Management Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs,"  providing information and planning steps for parents, district administrators, school administrators and staff to develop or strengthen plans for food allergy management and prevention.

One Year Later -- Superstorm Sandy:  Climate Chaos, Kids, and Schools by Claire Barnett

It’s been a year since Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast, and we’re still not only talking about it, but also dealing with the aftermath. Unfortunately, children are again being left out of the discussion.  More than 170 schools were impacted by the storm in the New York Metropolitan Area.  Floodwaters, sewage and toxic chemicals invaded school buildings and grounds, putting at risk the health of children, teachers and staff. While adults have recourse to state and federal oversight in the workplace, children do not.  Read more in this blog by Healthy Schools Network Executive Director Claire Barnett.

Best Practices and Resources


Spotlight on a State: Minnesota Connects Students with Nature

Recognizing that students are increasingly disconnected from nature, the 2010 Minnesota Legislature appropriated $300,000 from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to train and support the efforts of schools and teachers to integrate environmental and outdoor education into the instruction of academic standards.  The Final Report on the Minnesota Department of Education’s “Integrating Environmental and Outdoor Education Project” is available to view here.


Spotlight on a Resource

CoSN’s Green Computing certification program for K-12 schools covers purchasing, energy use, disposal and using computers to reduce waste of natural resources. CoSN's Energy Usage Calculator provides a quick approach for estimating annual kilowatt hours and related costs for computer use by K-12 users and the related data center infrastructure. Find out about other green computing resources here.


Funding Opportunity: Project Orange Thumb Grant
Since its inception, Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb has provided over $1.3 million to 140 community groups and helped to complete fourteen garden makeovers in the U.S. and Canada. Schools and non-profits are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $5,000 by the December 31st deadline. >>> 

(Photo Left: Federal, state and local officials joined stakeholders, administrators, parents, teachers and students during a tour of Bedwell Elementary School’s garden during the New Jersey/ New York leg of the ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practices tour on August 13th.)

The Green Strides Webinar Series continues with the tools to reduce schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement. Upcoming sessions include:

Dec. 4, 2013, 3:00-4:00 p.m.:    Waste in Place (KAB)

Dec. 10, 2013, 1:00-2:00 p.m.:  ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for Schools (EPA)

Dec. 11, 2013, 4:00-5:00 p.m.:  Health and Wellness Benefits of Archery (DOI)

Dec. 11, 2013, 7:30-9:00 p.m.:  ClimateChangeLIVE Education Resources  (USFS)

Dec. 17, 2013, 3:00-4:00 p.m.: Renovation, Repair and Painting at Schools (EPA)

Jan. 29, 2014, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: Development for Climate Change Education (USFS)

Feb. 19, 2014, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: GreenWorks! Grants for ClimateChangeLIVE  (USFS)

Also find more resources on the Green Strides Resources Page! 


We’ve Been Using All These Resources. Where Do We Apply?

Wondering who to contact in your state to apply for nomination to the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools or District Sustainability Award?  Find your state contact here.  Deadlines vary by state, but, in all cases, are fast approaching!



Nostalgic for Summer?

As the cold settles in, are you looking to revisit this summer’s ten week, 11 state ‘Education Built to Last’ Facilities Best Practices Tour?  This year’s visits to some 40 ED-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees are chronicled on our blogFollow ED senior officials on their travels from New England to Alabama, Wisconsin to California, New Jersey to the Pacific Northwest and learn about these honorees’ impressive work.

(Photo left: Visitors tour the constructed wetland adjacent to Purdy Elementary School in Fort Atkinson School District, Wisconsin in August.)

Check Out Green Strides: Environment, Health and Facilities at ED 

Come visit us! The U.S. Department of Education Green Strides portal provides all school communities access to the tools that help them move toward the Pillars of our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award, including a full list of STEM programs at ED.