The 2017 ED-GRS Honorees Are Here!

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          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the News


2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools  Announced

The U.S. Department of Education announced the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees on May 4th. Across the country, 45 schools, nine districts, and nine postsecondary institutions are honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. This year's honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states and the Department of Defense Education Activity. Thirty-nine public schools (including five magnet schools and one charter school), as well as six nonpublic schools, received awards. Forty-four percent of the 2017 honorees serve a predominantly disadvantaged student body and 14 percent are in rural areas. The postsecondary honorees include three career and technical and community colleges. The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 63 honorees can be found here. More information on the federal recognition award can be found here. Resources that all schools can use to move toward the three "Pillars" on which the awards are based can be found here.  >>>>

Learn From the 2017 Honorees

Take inspiration from the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees and read more about their work in our annual Highlights Report

Discovery Elementary Solar panels
A second-floor outdoor solar lab at Discovery Elementary School provides flexible learning spaces to explore the renewable energy sources onsite.

Discovery Elementary School, Arlington, Virginia

Discovery Elementary School is the largest Net Zero Energy elementary school ever built in the U.S. and the first in the Mid-Atlantic region. Sustainable features include 1,706 roof-mounted solar panels; a three-ply built up roof with two layers of ENERGY STAR cool roof coatings; a geothermal well field; solar preheat of domestic hot water; 100% LED lighting; ideal solar orientation and shading; and exterior walls using insulated concrete forms. Discovery’s energy costs are one-third that of comparable elementary schools. Discovery’s Eco-Action Team supports a variety of initiatives, including incentive programs to reduce lunch waste; collection of uneaten lunch food for donation; initiatives to promote walking, busing, biking, and carpooling to school; offering items like reusable lunch boxes, water bottles, and coffee mugs through the PTA; production of student videos on environmental topics; outdoor education through gardening and park cleanups; working towards the NWF Eco-SchoolsUSA Green Flag; and rewarding sustainable practices. Discovery has several outdoor learning environments, including a butterfly garden, an outdoor garden that uses rain barrels for its water source, and an outdoor exploratory lab that allows students to study the natural processes and species found in two bioretention basins. Teachers use Discovery’s extensive environmental signage in lessons. School leadership has redesigned the dining commons to enhance hygiene habits by requiring all students to proceed through a handwashing station prior to entering the area. Teachers are encouraged to take “brain breaks” with students frequently.  Monthly recipe challenges invite staff to bring healthy meals to share.  An annual "Biggest Loser" challenge combats obesity. Discovery has a robust school garden program and strong ties to local farms.  >>>>

Washburn School District elementary garden
Washburn students plant, harvest, and cook from the school garden every year, and have planted trees that will provide apples.

Washburn School District, Wisconsin

The Washburn School District serves roughly 630 students, 43% from economically disadvantaged households, in prekindergarten through 12th grade and its early learning center. The district has implemented a variety of energy-saving initiatives which include upgrading lighting, switching from electric to natural gas hot water heaters, districtwide recycling, and composting of garden waste. A team of students has created a community outreach recycling program. Classrooms take walking field trips instead of using buses whenever possible. Students in the ecology club choose an environmental topic each year and educate their peers with ongoing projects, culminating with an expert guest speaker who addresses an all-school assembly. Algebra classes conduct calculations of alternative transportation use to school. Washburn uses innovative techniques, including grazing goats in its invasive species removal, as part of its prairie restoration project. The district partners with community organizations for nutrition and agricultural education. Students engage in snowshoeing, skating, cross-country skiing, and canoeing. Washburn removed old asphalt and replaced it with a bioswale, pollinator garden, high tunnel greenhouse, outdoor lunch area, compost area, aquaponics lab, and monarch oasis. The district is home to a forested 40-acre environmental learning site. Learning opportunities include the Agripreneur Program, aquaponics lab, monarch butterfly study, and several sustainability-based classes. The ecology class conducts water quality testing, analyses habitats, and studies population density. Educators have access to an outdoor classroom kit, including a set of collapsible, lightweight chairs and clipboards, to allow classes that wouldn’t normally need to go outside to teach their content to spend time outdoors. >>>>

CMC students and faculty explore aspen grove
Colorado Mountain College students and faculty explore an aspen forest.

Colorado Mountain College, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Colorado Mountain College (CMC) serves approximately 22,000 students at 11 instructional sites annually in a service area of more than 12,000 square miles across the state's Western Slope. Highlights of CMC's sustainability efforts include the installation of solar farms and geothermal systems; upgrades to HVAC systems, lighting, and insulation; and the addition of motion sensors. Despite campus climates ranging from high alpine to high desert, and at altitudes ranging from 10,152 to 5,348 feet, the college has undertaken initiatives to mitigate water use, including xeriscaping with native plants and nighttime watering; low-flow and sensored bathroom fixtures; and the installation of water bottle filling stations. Waste reduction efforts have included single-stream recycling; plastic and glass recycling; composting; participation in a local food recovery network to donate unused human-edible food to local nonprofits; and an organic recycling program in collaboration with a local pig farmer. The college offers a ropes course; has a co-ed college ski team and an outdoor mountain biking club; provides mental health specialists, physician assistants, and professional counselors; and coordinates with local community clinics. Community gardens, a greenhouse, and a student beekeeping club are features at various campuses. The new Bachelor of Arts degree in sustainability studies blends classroom instruction with experiential education. CMC’s natural resource management program focuses on hands-on experiential education designed to develop students’ skills in a variety of environments. CMC’s environmental science program is focused on environmental problems and biological and ecological approaches to addressing them. CMC offers a popular technical training program in solar energy with three certificates. >>>>

Resources and Opportunities

Mundo Verde teacher uses Learning Lab

Learning Lab

Learning Lab is product of the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools that provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive, project- and STEM-based curriculum that encourages student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action. Learning Lab offers in-class content, training, and tools; it also gives access to a curated catalogue of lesson plans, interactive projects, assessment opportunities, and other multimedia resources in English and Spanish. Lessons are mapped to meet current educational standards, and were created by educators, for educators. >>>>

Fuel Up to Play 60 Logo

Fuel Up to Play 60 Funding Deadline Is June 14

Funding opportunities are available for any K‐12 school enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 and participating in the National School Lunch Program. The competitive, nationwide funding program is sponsored by the National Dairy Council, state and regional Dairy Councils, and other supporting organizations, the competitive, nationwide funding program provides money — up to $4,000 per year, per school — to jump start healthy changes. Funds are used to help schools implement one Healthy Eating Play and one Physical Activity Play from the 2016‐2017 edition of the Fuel Up to Play 60 Playbook. >>>>

Green Schools National Network logo

Become a Green Schools National Network Member

Through the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) membership program, you can show support to the green schools movement and become a catalyst for change for green schools everywhere. GSNN’s membership program is designed for leaders who use sustainability to drive innovation in their classrooms, schools, or school districts. >>>>

Education Facilities Clearinghouse Logo

The Education Facilities Clearinghouse Launches a New Website

The Education Facilities Clearinghouse (EFC) recently launched its new website with resources in areas including planning, design, financing, construction, contract management, operations, maintenance, school safety, and environmental issues. The EFC has gathered some of the best research pertaining to effective practices in learning environments. Learn more from the EFC's online library and contact the EFC for school facility expertise. >>>>



The CELF Education for Sustainability Summer Institute is July 1013

The Annual CELF Summer Institute in Education for Sustainability is July 10—13, 2017 at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. The Institute is an intensive four-day workshop that enables teachers to integrate the concepts of sustainability into their existing curricula. >>>>

Water Quality Monitoring Colorado Mountain College

Applications Open for the Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy

The Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy at Shelburne Farms in Vermont is a recently launched, year-long program for those wishing to be part of a learning community exploring education for sustainability, systems thinking, and school transformation. ​Applications are due by June 9. >>>> 

Shelburne Farms Logo

The Summer Institute on Education for Sustainability Celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Spend five  days with colleagues from around the country at an informative and restorative institute at Shelburne Farms in Vermont created to give educators the opportunity to deepen their understanding of education for sustainability. This week is part conference, part workshop, and part retreat. Participants develop connections between curriculum and community, work and dialogue together, and reflect in an inspiring setting that models sustainability and systems-thinking. >>>>

Wilton Manors Environmental Ed

The Get Out of the Classroom Conference Is August 3-4

The 2017 Get Out of the Classroom Field Studies Conference is set to take place August 3-4 at Northwest Passage High School in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Join educators, practitioners, and innovators who have explored learning environments with their students through field studies, urban travel, and wilderness expeditions. >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series: May

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

May 9,  6:30-7:30 p.m.  BEST Satellite (NASA)

May 10, 12-12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask The Expert (EPA)

May 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m. One Year Crew (NASA)

May 17,  12-12:30 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask The Expert (EPA)

May 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m.  Sally Ride EarthKAM (NASA)

May 24,  12-12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask The Expert (EPA)

May 31,  12-12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask The Expert (EPA)

May 31, 4:00-5:00 p.m.  NASA Digital Badge for Educators (NASA)

June 1,  6:00-7:00 p.m.  Journey to Mars (NASA)

June 8,  4:00-5:00 p.m.  Modeling the Solar Eclipse (NASA)

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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