Celebrate Great Outdoors Month This June!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Great Outdoors logo

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month this June

June is Great Outdoors Month: a celebration of our parks and waters and the many ways to enjoy them. It's also a time to reflect on what we can do to preserve America's natural spaces for the enjoyment of future generations.  Looking for ways to get kids outdoors and active this Great Outdoors Month?  Check out these nationwide events in June:  National Trails Day is June 4th, Get Outdoors Day is June 11th, and the Great American Campout is June 25th. >>>>

Prospect Sierra--CA
Students from Prospect Sierra School, a 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, in El Cerrito, CA, participate in stream studies.

Meet A Few More of the 2016 Honorees!

As schools head off for summer break, now is a great time to take inspiration from the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for plans in the coming year.  View the honorees and read about their work on Green Strides.

Poudre School District, Colorado

Poudre School District (PSD)’s commitment to sustainability began in 1994 with the formation of an Energy Efficiency Team and a Green Team.  Since then, PSD has completed 260 energy efficiency projects resulting in a utility savings of over $2 million.  The district adopted a Sustainability Management System (SMS) in 2006 and has published its annual Sustainability Report for seven years, highlighting sustainable accomplishments, innovative practices, and goals across the district, including resource conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable education, transportation, and health and wellness.  PSD oversees a robust Safe Routes to School program, including walking school buses, walk and bike to school days, bike safety instruction, and the installation of bike repair stations at middle and high schools.  Every school has a salad bar, and PSD’s farm to school program has been in place for five years.  Nearly 30 percent of schools have onsite gardens, which are used as outdoor classrooms, with the growing cycle incorporated into science classes.  Elementary students participate in The Walking Classroom program, in which students take 20-minute walks while listening to a podcast on science, social studies, or language arts; middle school students engage in Global Explorers field trips and river watch activities; and high school teachers incorporate the outdoors into lessons, including hands-on experiential field trips.   The City of Fort Collins Utilities Department worked with 36 schools to provide hands-on, curriculum-based classes, programs, and events for students related to water and energy.  Across the district, schools participate in activities such as River Week, a citywide children’s water festival, Habitat for Humanity home building, gardening and composting, water ecology studies, nature hikes, and informational tours of sustainable school facilities.  >>>>

Poudre School District, CO
Photovoltaic system at Bethke Elementary School in Poudre County School District.

Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.

Capital City Public Charter School serves 983 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade in one consolidated LEED Gold-certified building.  Seventy-three percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and 85 percent are African-American or Hispanic.  In 2012, Capital City underwent a massive renovation of its 1963 building with sustainable practices in mind.  Prior to the renovations, seventh and eighth graders investigated green practices with assistance from the Alliance to Save Energy and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  The students then created a book with their suggested green designs, and presented their chosen features to the school’s board of directors.  Capital City’s main school garden encompasses 2400 square feet, includes an outdoor classroom, and is adjacent to the high school entrance for the entire community to see.  The grounds also include bioswales and a rain garden.  The school employs a part-time school garden coordinator, who works with teachers to design curricula that include resources from the school garden.  The coordinator works with high school students to provide a weekly school garden market that offers fresh produce from the school garden and a local farm.  Students participate in hands-on, project-based, authentic learning “expeditions.”  From prekindergarten students’ expedition on herbs to the 11th graders’ Food Justice for All expedition, students are engaging with natural, local foods, and learning why knowing where your food comes from has benefits for health, wellness, equity, and local economies.  All students must take either Environmental Science or Urban Ecology to graduate, and an optional outdoor adventure program includes camping, rock climbing, and hiking.  >>>>

Capital City Public Schools, DC
CCPCS teachers take students outdoors to engage with and study their natural surroundings.

Garmisch Elementary Middle School, Bavaria, Germany

At Garmisch Elementary Middle School (GEMS), a Department of Defense Education Activity School, students designed and constructed compost bins to collect organic waste.  Students also developed a campaign focused on waste reduction, and conducted a waste audit determining that the amount of waste going into the regular trash was reduced by 83 percent.  Students have designed, constructed, and planted a garden, using soil generated from their compost.  They have been involved in the design of a new school facility with sustainability features that will improve the building’s resource efficiency and indoor environment, and will result in cost savings for the school.  Using surveying equipment, they mapped out the new building site.  Classes also have taken on civic projects around specific environmental issues, such as water conservation and water quality.  The school counselor teaches weekly classes that target social and emotional well-being and the school nurse has developed and implemented a healthy lifestyle and nutrition curriculum that is taught in all classes.  Families can learn more about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle during GEMS’s Spring Health and Fitness Night.  Staff model healthy living for students by leading active lifestyles; half of the staff regularly walk or bike to school, 47 percent of the teaching staff serve as volunteer instructors for the school’s weekly ski program, and 20 percent of the staff recently competed together in a team endurance race.  The Outdoor Education Club provides students with a chance to promote teambuilding and problem solving skills through participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, and geocaching.  As evidenced by a 92 percent participation rate, the students love the hands-on learning opportunities that this club provides.  >>>>

Students at Garmisch Elementary Middle School inspect an Audi E-Tron electric car while learning about alternative energy sources.

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, 2017.  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 be considered for nomination in a given state.  State education authorities can contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  >>>>

Resources and Opportunities


Apply for NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance by June 30

The National Park Service supports community-led conservation and outdoor recreation projects, including bike paths, water trails, and parks.  >>>>

NPS logo

Apply for NPS Challenge Cost Share Grants by July 1

Grants of $25,000 are available for a range of project ideas that serve urban communities, engage youth with National Parks, and connect people to the outdoors.  Educational institutions or not-for-profit organizations are eligible to partner with NPS for work performed in collaboration with NPS-administered parks, including National Parks, National Trails, and Wild and Scenic Rivers.  >>>>

PLT logo

Apply for a GreenWorks! Environmental Education Grant by Sept. 30

Project Learning Tree offers grants up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world. Students implement an action project they help design to green their school or to improve an aspect of their neighborhood’s environment.  The projects partner students with their whole school, local businesses and/or community organizations, and provide opportunities for student leadership. >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Summer

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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov for listing.

June 01, 2016, 6:30-7:30 pm  NASA, We’re Out There:  Dwarf Planet Missions (NASA)

June 06, 2016, 4:00-5:00 pm  Peering Beneath Jupiter’s Clouds  (NASA)

June 08, 2016, 12-12:30 pm   Ask The Expert (EPA)

June 09, 2016, 1:00-2:30 pm  Waste Reduction in College Residence Halls (CURC)

June 09, 2016, 1:00-2:30 pm  Reduce Indoor Asthma Triggers in Schools (EPA)

June 14, 2016, 2:00-3:00 pm  Green Clean Schools Learn From the Leaders (HSC)

June 15, 2016, 12-12:30 pm   Ask The Expert (EPA)

June 15, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Colleges Accelerate Community Deployment of Solar (EPA)

June 16, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Modeling Our Solar System (NASA)

June 23, 2016, 6:00-7:00 pm  Exploring Strange New Worlds (NASA)

June 28, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

June 29, 2016, 12-12:30 pm   Ask The Expert (EPA)

June 29, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

June 30, 2016, 1:00-2:00 pm  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)


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.  >>>>

Nature-Based Education Summer Institute is June 25 in Farmington, ME

The University of Maine will host a Nature-Based Education Summer Institute with sessions that are designed to be interactive and outdoors, for a range of educators working across age levels and settings.   The day features a keynote by David Sobel, locally grown food, and workshops that will bring participants outside to learn more about how nature-based education benefits children and adults.  >>>>


Educating Children Outdoors Offers June and July Summer Institutes in Vermont

Educating Children for the Outdoors offers standards based nature immersion graduate courses for educators, assistants, aides, and administrators.  During the week, a leadership team of professional nature immersion specialists guides teachers in direct application of outdoor classroom routines as well as ways to incorporate Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards into those routines.  >>>>

GSA logo

The Educator Climate and Conservation Colloquium is July 6-10 in Shepherdstown, WV

Ec3 is a professional development opportunity for educators and sustainability coordinators offered by the Green Schools Alliance in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC).  Participants work with national experts; receive training in sustainability leadership, financing, and assessment; share ideas and network with colleagues; and participate in NCTC’s unique conservation programs and fieldwork.  >>>>

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.  >>>>

CELF logo

The Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation Summer Institute is July 18-21 in Purchase, NY

The Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation’s Summer Institute enables teachers to integrate the concepts of sustainability into their existing curricula.  This program equips K-12 teachers with practices and teaching methods to address the core concepts of Education for Sustainability – the intersection of social, economic, and ecological systems.  >>>>

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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