GA’s Keisha Ford-Jenrette to Receive 2017 Director’s Award

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Keisha FordJenrette of Georgia Department of Education

The 2017 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award Goes to Keisha Ford-Jenrette of Georgia

The Director’s Award recognizes state education authorities’ exemplary efforts to administer U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  Annually, the Director’s Award goes to the state education official who does the most to advance sustainable education in his or her state, by such means as running a robust nomination process; connecting more schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions to free, publically-available sustainability resources; amplifying the stories of honorees; helping schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions connect and learn from one another; partnering with a variety of state and non- and for-profit private sector entities; and exhibiting a dedication to exceptional school facilities, health, and environmental education through activities outside of the award.  

This year, the Director’s Award goes to Keisha Ford-Jenrette of the Georgia Department of Education.  Ford-Jenrette fosters collaboration among many government, non-profits, and for-profit partners, and schools.  She supports schools and districts in the process of applying, including providing feedback and mentoring so that they can improve for re-application.  She partners with Captain Planet Foundation to offer a significant cash award to honorees in the state and liaises with the Georgia Lieutenant Governor’s office for state recognition festivities, press releases, and honoree citations each year.  Ford-Jenrette has also developed a state-level honorable mention to broaden recognition and reward promising efforts.  Ford-Jenrette will be honored, alongside school, district, and postsecondary honorees at a summer event in Washington, D.C. >>>>


Announcement of 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Coming Soon!

Participating state education authorities submit their nominations to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) annually by Feb. 1.  ED announces honorees in the spring; invites selectees to a celebration in the summer; and conducts a fall tour to spotlight clusters of honorees, past and present.  Stay tuned for more information on the 2017 spring announcement!

Now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2018 application cycle by using resources and programs on Green Strides and to contact your state authority if it does not already make nominations.  Read some common misconceptions about the award dispelled in a blog by the ED-GRS director and review Frequently Asked Questions on all three award categories.  Interested colleges and universities should contact state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact state education agencies.  Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are only eligible if nominated by state authorities.  State education authorities can find award criteria and other state implementation guidance on ED's website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.   >>>>

Learn From the 2016 Honorees

Want to make some sustainable improvements on your school? Take inspiration from the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees and learn more about their work on Green Strides.


Students Garden at Montclair Historical Society
West Caldwell Tech students garden at the Montclair Historical Society.

Essex County West Caldwell Tech; West Caldwell, New Jersey

The West Caldwell Tech (WCT) campus of the Essex County Vocational and Technical School District, serving 78 percent free and reduced price lunch-eligible and 52 percent special education students, began its sustainability efforts five years ago with an energy audit to develop comprehensive energy conservation and retrofit measures.  WCT replaced its boilers with energy-efficient ones, and implemented a one-to-one laptop initiative to reduce paper usage.  The school, with an enrollment of 343, also created partnerships with county and state officials for financial support to update lighting fixtures and add alternative energy sources to the school building.  To improve health, WCT offers a full year of physical education and health courses.  While New Jersey requires 3.75 credits of physical education and health each year, WCT provides students with five credits, and has established a Health and Wellness Family Fun Day.  The school cafeteria sources all seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farms.  The school requires an environmental science course.  As a vocational school, WCT incorporates sustainability practices into career majors.  For example, Horticulture and Agriscience students raise trout from eggs, monitor tank water quality, and engage in stream habitat study.  Its Construction Trades Academy incorporates a sustainable construction curriculum, and a WCT teacher served on the statewide development committee for green career pathways for Sustainable Design, Construction, and Energy. >>>>

Students Create Safe Healthy Cleaning Products
MBUSD students fabricate their own safe, healthy cleaners.

Manhattan Beach Unified School District, California

In Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) two non-profit organizations, Grades of Green and Growing Great, began as groups of MBUSD parent-volunteers working to reduce waste while helping students understand the role of gardens and nutritious food.  Students and parents have led efforts in waste reduction, cutting the number of trash bins the district needs in half.  Students, dressed up as recycling clowns, starred in films doing the dirty, yet fun, work of waste audits, and positioned themselves at campus recycling centers to help fellow students know what to deposit in waste, recycling, or composting containers.  A single employee’s efforts to thank teachers and staff who changed their habits ensured that lights were turned off at night, the swimming pool was properly covered, and electronics were unplugged while schools were not in session.  One parent created a clever lunchbox that promotes trash-free lunches.  Now every first grader in MBUSD receives a free trash-free lunchbox, sponsored by Waste Management.  A walking school bus and edible school garden are in place at all five elementary schools in the district.  MBUSD has documented a 33 percent reduction in energy use over six years.  Each of the seven schools in the district is ENERGY STAR certified, and six of the seven scored 100.  Solar panels installed at the high school provide a whopping 30 percent of the facility’s energy needs.  Students have meaningful outdoor learning experiences at every grade level. Forty MBUSD students in grades three through eight initiated a successful citywide ban of single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam.  >>>>

Elon University Forest
The Elon University Forest is a 56-acre protected natural area just north of campus that serves as a teaching resource and research site, as well as a service learning site and quiet place for reflection and observation.

Elon University; Elon, North Carolina 

Elon University’s energy efficiency and conservation efforts have resulted in a 30 percent reduction in BTUs per square foot, despite the fact that its footage increased by 104 percent and the student population increased by 35 percent.  Elon adopted a Green Building Policy in 2009, which states that new construction projects and major renovations consisting of 8,000 or more square feet of conditioned, occupied space will achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification.  There currently are 26 LEED certified buildings on campus totaling 624,240 square feet, which is 23 percent of the university’s total square footage.  Campus waste reduction efforts include yard and food waste composting.  About 39 percent of the university’s fleet is composed of alternative fueled vehicles, which includes the Elon BioBus system that is free for students, faculty, staff, and community members.  The landscaping and grounds staff incorporates integrated pest management into their operations to protect human health and the environment.  The Sustainability Faculty Scholars Program provides faculty with resources and support to incorporate or enhance a focus on sustainable principles and practices in their lessons.  Among the resources on campus for experiential learning, the Elon Environmental Center at Loy Farm demonstrates the integration of food systems with the built environment.  Its activities and functions include food and farming systems, a design-build studio for responsible architecture, the Piedmont Prairie ecological restoration project, and long-term ecological research.  >>>>


Green School Conference and Expo Attendees Interact

The Green Schools National Conference and Expo is March 2122 in Atlanta 

The Green Schools Conference and Expo connects green school champions nationwide for two days of learning and collaboration to support the shared mission of equitable, healthy and high-performing schools, where students can learn how to sustain and improve the world around them.  Green Schools National Network members receive a discount on registration. Learn more about membership>>>>

Children and Nature Network’s Conference is April 1821 in Vancouver, Canada  

The 2017 Children & Nature Network International Conference and Summit will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from April 1821. The conference theme, “Kids Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids,” reflects the Network’s goal of ensuring that all children have access to the many benefits of nature — and the need to inspire new generations of environmental stewards.  The conference will promote meaningful, cross-sector engagement to create a world in which all children have access to nature in their daily lives. >>>>

Green Schools Alliance Logo

Student Conservation Corps & Congress is June 25July 1 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia

 The Student Conservation Corps & Congress is a week-long leadership training program for 8th to 11th grade students held annually at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s National Conservation Training Center.  Participants spend a week studying and discussing environmental, social, and economic interconnections to address climate change and conservation challenges affecting their generation in an ever-changing world.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series: March and April  

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 your suggestions of free, publically-available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to for listing.  All times provided are ET.

March 14, 6:307:30 p.m.  GLOBE Atmosphere (NASA)

March 15, 4:00-4:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask The Expert (EPA)

March 15, 4:00-5:00 p.m.  How to Make School Breakfast Work (Chef Ann Foundation)

March 16, 8:00-9:00 p.m.  Astrobiology and Looking for Life (NASA)

March 21, 4:005:30 p.m.  LaRC 100 Webinar (NASA)

March 21, 6:307:30 p.m.  Weather to Fly By (NASA)

March 22, 6:007:00 p.m.  Explore Your Watershed with Underwater ROVs (NOAA)

March 22, 7:30-8:30 p.m.  EarthPLAY for Earth Day 2017 (Green Teacher)

March 23, 6:007:00 p.m.  From Earth to the Moon (NASA)

March 27, 4:005:00 p.m.  NASA Satellite Mission GPM & SMAP (NASA)

March 27, 5:00-6:00 p.m.  Using Picture Books to Initiate STEAM PBL (NASA)

March 27, 7:30-8:30 p.m.  To Unplug or Plug In (Green Teacher)

March 28, 4:005:00 p.m.  Looking at Satellite Images (NASA)

March 28, 4:005:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

March 28, 6:307:30 p.m.  Space Weather (NASA)

March 29, 1:00-2:00 p.m.  Innovative Bicycling Programs for Youth (Safe Routes to School National Partnership)

March 29, 4:005:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

March 30, 4:005:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

April 3, 6:307:30 p.m.  Dwarf Planets (NASA)

April 5, 6:307:30 p.m.  Hubble – A History (NASA)

April 04, 8:00-9:00 p.m.  Tools for Diverse Learners (NASA)

April 5, 4:00-4:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask The Expert (EPA)

April 05, 6:30-7:30 p.m.  Hubble – A History (NASA)

April 06, 6:00-7:00 p.m.  Life on Mars? (NASA)

April 10, 6:30-7:30 p.m.  Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

April 11, 4:30-5:30 p.m.  Viewing Your Content Through a NASA Context (NASA)

Rockford Middle School Students Ice Fish
Students at Rockford Middle School - Center for Environmental Studies, a 2015 ED-GRS honoree in Rockford, Minnesota, engage in ice fishing.

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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