Green Strides Best Practices Tour ’14 concludes with Minneapolis and Maryland

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          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Green Strides Best Practices Tour ’14 Concludes with Minneapolis and Maryland

In the News

After visits to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees in West VirginiaKentuckyWest Palm Beach, FLBroward County, FLFort Collins, CO and Boulder, CO, the 2014 Green Strides Best Practices Tour, with the theme “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students, wrapped up in Minnesota and Maryland.


From Prior Lake, MN: All Big Things Start Small

On any given day in Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools, you will find teachers and students outside, certainly for recreational activities – but also for science, math, reading, even art. Environmental Education is embedded into nearly all curricular areas, districtwide.  The Environmental Education (EE) programs at Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools (PLSAS) started out as one small effort at one school. Yet this year these schools showcased districtwide EE programs during Green Strides Best Practices Tour visits to Five Hawks and Jeffers Pond Elementary. >>>>


From Waconia, MN: Making the Finances of Green Schools Work

Waconia Public Schools approaches resource conservation, environmental education, and wellness with innovative and cost-effective solutions. The Director of Finance and Operations worked with the school board to approve a financing plan that allows the school to use conservation cost savings, energy rebates and other incentives to pay for additional environmental and energy conservation improvements. The Waconia School District qualified for $46,000 in energy rebates, and is now saving an estimated $117,000 in utility and operations costs annually as a direct result of these improvements. The district also saves over 1.2 million gallons of water, nearly one million kilowatt hours of electricity, and over 17,000 therms of gas annually. Learn more about the tour’s stop in Minnesota by reading the story posted in the Sun Patriot.  >>>>


From Maryland: A District Sustainability Plan Encompasses Facilities, Operations, and Instruction

Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) commitment to environmental stewardship spans more than 35 years.  The district-wide focus on sustainability creates opportunities to involve students in conservation practices as they learn the why and how of those practices. A major step forward in this effort was the formation of School Energy and Recycling Teams (SERTs), which are comprised of students, teachers, and administrators at each school.  Empowered with quarterly energy use reports to monitor usage and recycling scores, school teams create and implement plans for continued improvement. The program unleashes creativity, enthusiasm, and resourcefulness.  It provides practical stewardship projects, like those showcased during this month’s Green Strides Best Practices Tour. >>>>

Catch the tour in the Capital News Service, the Baltimore Sun, and in Montgomery County Public Schools coverage.

For the second year, the Green Strides Best Practices Tour, this time with the theme ‘Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students’, brought attention to the practices of honorees and pointed all schools toward the resources they can use to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach environmental education.  


Apply to your State NOW: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Competitions vary by state, but most states have posted applications for schools, districts and postsecondary institutions with deadlines to submit to them in the winter. State authorities’ school, district and postsecondary nominations are due to ED by February 1, 2015. Interested PK-12 schools and districts should contact their state education agencies about the school and district award applications.

For the first time, in addition to a total of five school and district nominees, each state may nominate one postsecondary institution for exemplary achievement in all three Pillars. Interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities for information on how to apply. Hearing from interested schools, districts, colleges and universities may be helpful to P-12 and postsecondary state authorities considering 2014-2015 participation.

State education authorities can contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information. They can find updated criteria and other state implementation guidance on our website.

Have doubts about ED-GRS? Some Frequently Asked Questions on all three award categories are available here. >>>>


From White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Advance Climate Education

America’s students need access to the latest information, knowledge, and skills in order to be prepared for the jobs of the future. This means continually ensuring that citizens of all ages have a solid grounding in science, technology, engineering, and math skills that serve as a basis for discovery, invention, and innovation. And so, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wants to hear from you. Do the activities of your school, institution, organization, or company enhance climate education and literacy? Send your ideas, commitments, summaries of your work in this area, or photos of you, your students, and colleagues working to enhance climate literacy to by November 7. >>>>


Upcoming Events


Children’s Environmental Health Network Conference- Children: Food and Environment

The Children’s Environmental Health Network, a non-profit whose mission is to protect children from environmental health hazards and promote a healthier environment, will convene for the organization’s upcoming research conference February 4-6, 2015 in Austin, Texas.  The theme for the conference is “Children: Food and Environment” and the focus is on how the interaction between food and environmental factors affect children’s health. >>>>


5th Annual Green Schools National Conference is March 4-7th in Virginia Beach

The annual Green Schools National Conference, the only national conference bringing together experts and stakeholders to influence sustainability in K-12 schools and districts, is designed to allow attendees to learn about creative strategies for success and to take home real-life tools that can transform schools.  Early bird registration continues until December 15. >>>>



ED’s Green Strides Webinar Series continues with the tools ALL schools can use to reduce costs; improve health; and teach effective environmental education. Find sessions for educators, facilities managers, and advocates weekly. 

Nov.   5, 2014, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.         Studying Earth’s Changes (NASA)

Nov.   6, 2014, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.         From Satellites to Students (NASA)

Nov. 11, 2014, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.         Teaching Students How to Photograph Earth (NASA)

Nov. 11, 2014, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.         Eco-Schools USA:  Goals Metrics, Success!  (NWF)

Nov. 12, 2014, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.         Space Exploration Beyond Boundaries (NASA)

Nov. 13, 2014, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.         MAVEN:  Red Planet – Read, Write, Explore! (NASA)

Nov. 19, 2014, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.         New Horizons: Pluto Up Close and Personal (NASA) 

Dec.   2, 2014, 2:00 -  3:30 p.m.        ENERGYSTAR & Building Rating Systems  (EPA)


Grants, Contests and Awards


Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Nominations for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching  are now open.  Principals, teachers, students, parents, and the public may nominate exceptional math or science teachers who are currently teaching grades 7-12.  Teachers may also self-nominate.  The President bestows up to 108 awards each year.  Since the program’s inception in 1983, over 4,300 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Nominations close on April 1, 2015. >>>>


President’s Environmental Youth Awards 

The President’s Environmental Youth Awards program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. The program includes two components: a regional certificate of special recognition and a national award competition. All qualified applicants each year receive a certificate of recognition from their EPA regional office. In addition, one outstanding project from each region is selected to receive a national award plaque. Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps, and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship.  >>>>


EPA School Bus Replacement Rebate Program

As part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Program, EPA is offering rebates to both public and private fleets for clean diesel projects. The rebate program is targeting the replacement of older school buses. For this 2014 School Bus Replacement Funding Opportunity, $3 million has been reserved. Applications must be received by November 17, 2014 at 4 p.m. EST. >>>>




EPA Publishes New Guidance for Schools

EPA released Energy Savings Plus Health: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades. The Guidelines provide school districts with tools to integrate indoor air quality protections into school energy efficiency retrofits and other building upgrade projects, thus helping schools implement important energy efficiency upgrades without compromising occupant health.  By following the recommendations outlined, school districts will reap the benefits of improved student and staff health, reduced operational costs, and significant environmental and economic benefits. >>>>


Spotlight on a Resource: Cleaning for Healthy Schools

This site has two toolkits: one for Green Cleaning and one for a selected range of other Healthy Products. The kits offer free posters, webinars, tip sheets, checklists, and links to find products. Take a moment to review and share it with your schools and communities.  For a review of the Healthy Products toolkit, see the article "Sustainable Purchasing for Schools" from the most recent issue of School Planning & Management magazine. >>>>


Spotlight on an App: Habitat the Game

Habitat the Game is designed to teach seven to 12 year-olds ecologically sustainable habits, Habitat encourages players to adopt an endangered animal, a virtual polar bear, and keep it happy and healthy. Players earn points through games in the app and by completing real-life “missions,” like recycling or checking in at more than 30 parks around the world, including national parks, zoos and other iconic sites. In addition to promoting outdoor activities, the point system in the game incentivizes players towards a 25% reduction in their carbon, water and land use and shows their impact through an ecological footprint calculator. >>>>


Spotlight on a Learning Tool: TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers

Superheroes TurfMutt & the Outdoor Powers are on a mission to teach kids and families backyard science, including how to take better care of the green spaces around them. With the activities in this new hands-on science program, you can help them save the planet one yard at a time. Join Turfmutt and friends in February 2015 for more lesson plans, games, and activities and a chance to win $5,000 to improve your school’s green space! >>>>


Connect with Green Strides on the Web

Green Strides: Environment, Health and Facilities at ED
ED-Green Ribbon Schools
Twitter: @EDGreenRibbon
Sign up for Green Strides updates here.