Recognizing Green Schools, Districts, and Postsecondary Institutions this Earth Day

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          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the News


Recognizing Green Schools, Districts, and Postsecondary Institutions this Earth Day

On Earth Day, April 22, U.S. Secretary of Education John King announced the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  Joined in a video by Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss, Secretary King celebrated the 47 schools, 15 school districts, and 11 postsecondary institutions chosen for their commitment to reducing environmental impact, improving health, and offering effective environmental education.  You can view the video of the Earth Day announcement here and read the blog by ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director Andrea Suarez Falken here.  View the full state-by-state list of 2016 honorees and read our annual Highlights from the Honorees Report.

Selecting Nominees for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools 2017  

Are you ready for 2017?! Most participating states post applications for schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions each summer with deadlines to submit to them each winter.  State authorities’ school, district, and postsecondary nominations are due to ED by February 1 of each year.  In addition to a total of five school and district nominees, each state may nominate one postsecondary institution for leadership in all three Pillars.  State selection committees may include state education agencies, state higher education agencies, governors’ offices, and outside partners.  Interested schools, districts, colleges, universities should contact their state education authorities for information on how to apply in a given state.  State education authorities can contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information on how to nominate. >>>>

School yard report

Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands Publishes “Green Schoolyards” Report

“Green Schoolyards: A Growing Movement Supporting Health, Education and Connection with Nature,” describes the significant and diverse benefits of green schoolyards.  This report documents the journeys and lessons of green schoolyard programs shared at a 2015 Green Schoolyard Summit, as well as the experiences and expertise of grassroots leaders and public and private partners working at the school, community, and city levels; policymakers from the local, state, and national levels; and, additional research into emerging ideas, funding streams, and innovative partnerships.  >>>>

Meet A Few of the 2016 Honorees!

We’ll be featuring the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees who are demonstrating innovative practices for others to follow.  This month, meet honorees from California, Connecticut, and Kentucky.

Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest school district in the nation, serving more than 650,000 students, 76 percent of whom are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.  LAUSD has undertaken a robust sustainability initiative aimed at reducing environmental impact and costs, including high performance design and construction on all new schools and modernization projects; energy audit and energy- and water-efficiency retrofits; use of recycled water; installation of 21 megawatts of solar capacity; innovative technology such as ground source heat pumps and low-impact stormwater management; recycling, reuse, salvage, and composting programs; and conversion of the district’s bus and fleet vehicles to clean and alternative energy.  To date, 78 schools have been Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) certified.  More than 375 schools have onsite gardens maintained by students, staff, and community partners.  Through the Bring the Farmer to Your School program, local farmers visit Title I classrooms to deliver interactive presentations about agriculture, farming as a career, water conservation, and the importance of eating fresh produce.  The district has more than 50 environmentally-themed magnets and academies.  Fifty-one high schools offer AP Environmental Science (APES) and several schools use the district’s legacy agricultural areas and greenhouses to offer horticulture-focused experiential programs.  Teachers from more than 440 schools have participated in sustainability education professional development workshops.  LAUSD has developed school-based programs and curricula that integrate sustainability concepts across disciplines, including sustainability-related career technical education, contests, and outdoor education; advanced learning programs that prepare LAUSD students for success in the careers of the future; and partnerships with dozens of non-profit local and regional entities who motivate student body to become active participants in developing a more sustainable future.  >>>>

Students at Coeur d'Alene Elementary School in LAUSD participate in monthly classes using school gardening as a platform for STEM and experiential learning.

CREC Two Rivers Magnet High School, Hartford, Connecticut

Two Rivers Magnet High School (TRMHS) is an environmental science magnet school in Hartford, Connecticut serving over 395 students in grades 9-12, more than 50 percent of whom are eligible for free and reduced price lunch and more than 80 percent of whom are minority.  TRMHS integrates the magnet school theme of environmental science and engineering throughout all core, elective, and co-curricular classes, in addition to environmental STEM pathways, theme-specific professional development, and a theme-specific senior capstone project.  TRMHS offers four exciting theme-specific pathways for students to choose from: Aquatic Studies, Environmental Studies, Environmental Science and Engineering, and Plant Genomics and Biotechnology.  Learning occurs in multiple environments, including nearby parks, rivers, coastal and mountain regions, and nature preserves.  Students at TRMHS participate in courses that teach sustainable green building design, techniques in water quality testing, aquaponics food production, and drone and robotic conservation efforts.   Staff members participate in a CSA to bring farm-fresh produce to the school, a program that has expanded to include students’ families.  The cafeteria offers vegetarian and vegan choices, as well as culturally-inspired meals.  As an urban school located on a former brownfield site, the school uses local parks for recreation, and walks to many of the fieldtrip sites. Currently TRMHS is located in the renovated historic Colt Armory in downtown Hartford.  This factory was a former brownfield site that has been rehabbed and revitalized to serve as the campus for three CREC schools. TRMHS has a greenhouse that students utilize in AP Environmental Science and for their capstone projects.  >>>>

CREC Two Rivers HS
CREC has created a living lab between the Connecticut and Hockanum Rivers where Two Rivers High School students and teachers can explore the natural world of obtaining real life field experiences.

Berea College, Berea, Kentucky

Berea College is one of seven work colleges in the U.S., which means that in exchange for free tuition, students, who must be economically disadvantaged, are required to work on campus.  This provides an opportunity to address environmental and sustainability education.  Students often work as waste diversion coordinators, sustainable foods coordinators, alternative transportation coordinators, gardeners, or childcare providers.  Berea’s campus boasts the first LEED-certified building and LEED-certified historic hotel in Kentucky, as well as the first LEED Platinum Residential Building with Living Building Petal recognition from the Living Futures Institute.  Berea’s innovative Ecovillage is an ecologically-sustainable residential and learning complex designed to provide housing for student families, childcare for campus children, and a living/labor opportunity for students interested in sustainability.  The college is well on its way to becoming a net zero waste institution, with a 70 percent diversion rate.  With the launch of the school’s car and ride share programs in 2014, Berea College was named a top-ranked car share usage school in the nation.  Over 25 percent of the food served in Berea’s dining facilities comes from local and organically-sourced purveyors, much from the school’s own 400-acre organic farm.  The college’s Farm Store offers organic produce, meat, and other locally-sourced products to the community and provides discounts to students, faculty, and staff.  The Center for Excellence in Learning through Service enables students to volunteer in local non-profit organizations and schools to solve real-world sustainability problems.  >>>>

Berea College
Berea College's Farm Store offers organic produce, meat, and other locally-sourced products to the community and provides discounts to students, faculty, and staff.

Resources and Opportunities


Environmental Education Teacher and Training Proposals Due May 9

EPA is accepting proposals for a multi-year cooperative agreement to operate the National Environmental Education and Training (EE) program. The purpose of this program is to provide EE training and long-term support to the EE field. >>>>


Every Kid In the Park Prepares for A Second Cohort of Fourth-Graders!

As part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, the Every Kid in a Park initiative allows fourth graders nationwide to obtain a pass for free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year.  The second year of this annual program will begin on September 1, which is when current third graders will be eligible to download their passes.  Parents, teachers, and community organizations can lead fun, educational outings for kids currently in the 4th grade to any national park, national forest, or other federal land or water site across the country.  More information to help plan trips is available on the Every Kid in a Park website and Scholastic has developed activities.  You can follow Every Kid in the Park on Twitter and Facebook.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Spring

The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes sessions that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  Consult the webinar calendar and submit suggestions of free webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to for listing.

May 02, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Journey to Mars:  Roving the Red Planet (NASA)

May 03, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Journey to Mars:  Understanding Radiation (NASA)

May 04, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  SLS Engineering is Out of This World (NASA)

May 05, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Journey to Mars:  Looking for Life (NASA)

May 09, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Exploration of Mars Through the Eyes of the Rovers (NASA)

May 10, 2016, 2:00-3:30 pm  School IPM Educational Program (EPA)

May 10, 2016, 4:00-5:00 pm  Virtual Missions and Exoplanets Part 1: (NASA)

May 11, 2016, 1:00-2:30 pm  The Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function (EPA)

May 11, 2016, 4:00-5:00 pm  Virtual Missions and Exoplanets Part 2: (NASA)

May 12, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Journey to Mars:  Destination Mars- Super Models (NASA)

May 17, 2016, 2:00-3:00 pm  School Garden and Mental Health Challenges (SF USA)

May 17, 2016, 2:00-3:30 pm  Ants--#1 Pest in Schools (EPA)

May 17, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  Parachuting onto Mars (NASA)

May 18, 2016, 3:00-3:45 pm  Community Food Systems in Native Communities: (USDA)

May 24, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

May 24, 2016, 4:00-5:00 pm  Air and Space- Contrails – Clouds and Human Activity (NASA)

May 25, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

May 25, 2016, 5:00-6:00 pm  Journey to Mars:  Kinesthetic Problem Solving (NASA)

May 25, 2016, 7:30-8:30 pm  National Marine Sanctuaries: Climate Change  (NOAA)  

May 26, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

May 26, 2016, 2:00-2:45 pm  Planning for Farm to School Success  (USDA)



May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.  Asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans and more than 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies. AAFA offers tools to bring healthy messages to work, school and home.  >>>>

ESC logo

Endangered Species Day is May 20

Zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, wildlife refuges, conservation groups, national parks, museums, and schools throughout the country will hold tours, open houses, special presentations, exhibits, milkweed plantings/butterfly garden installations, habitat clean-ups/other restoration events, children’s activities and more on May 15, that weekend and throughout May. Participate in a local event or take action individually. >>>>

The Children and Nature Conf 16

The Children and Nature Conference is May 25-27 in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Children and Nature Network 2016 Summit and Conference will take place May 25-27 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  The conference provides opportunities to engage with leaders from a wide-range of sectors and peers to learn about cutting-edge initiatives, share lessons learned, activate collaboration, spark new connections, and chart a path for expanding the movement.  >>>>

Climate Generation logo

The Summer Institute for Climate Change Education is June 21-24 in St. Paul, MN

The 2016 Summer Institute will take place at Macalester College, a 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee, and will focus on the newest middle school resource: Next Generation Climate.  >>>>

Green Schools Alliance

The Student Climate & Conservation Congress is June 26-July 2 in Shepherdstown, WV

The Green Schools Alliance invites students who have demonstrated leadership in their communities to participate in the Student Climate & Conservation Congress.  Hosted at the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center, students and educators selected to participate in the week-long Congress expand their understanding of environmental, social, and economic interconnections, and create year-long commitments to meet 21st century challenges. >>>>

HSC logo

The Green Clean Schools Leadership Institute is July 28-29th in Ellicott City, MD

This training will bring together leading university and K-12 facility operators in an effort to grow the green cleaning movement.  It will include hands-on leadership skill training and workshops; expert panels and discussions on how to create a green cleaning program; an in-depth tour of an award-winning program; and the opportunity to network with other leaders in the field.  Some scholarships are available for school representatives. >>>>

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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