The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Outdoor Learning in Georgia!

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

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Cooking demo with loco business at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School

The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Outdoor Learning in Georgia!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools director Andrea Falken, accompanied by various state and local officials, visited schools (including one postsecondary institution) in the Atlanta, Georgia, area on Sept. 19 and 20, as part of the fourth annual U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools’ Green Strides Tour. “Taking Learning Outside was the theme of this year’s tour, inspired, in part, by the growing forest school movement.  Learn more about the movement from 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Gilbert Elementary, and read about the two days of this, the 19th state over three annual iterations, of the tour from USGBC’s Georgia staff in attendance. See photographs from the tour (day 1, day 2, and both days).  We invite you to share tour photos and impressions on Twitter (EDGreenRibbon) and Facebook (EDGreenRibbonSchools) using the hashtag #GreenStridesTour.  >>>> 

Meet More of the 2017 Honorees!

As you leap into fall at school, take inspiration from the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for ideas.  View the honorees and read about their work on Green Strides.  Also, read a blog about the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools ceremony.

Long Branch Middle School students conduct a waste audit with their principal.
Long Branch Middle School students conduct a waste audit with their principal.

Long Branch Middle School, Long Branch, New Jersey

Long Branch Middle School opened its doors with environmental impact at the forefront of its design, including geothermal heating and solar panels, the latter of which generate a whopping 43 percent of the school’s energy needs.  Long Branch has a score of 84 in Portfolio Manager, 21 points higher than four years ago, and has a 49 percent recycling rate.  The Power School Team tracks energy usage with the help of a program by New Jersey Natural Gas.  The school’s sustainability efforts have saved over $2,000,000 and earned bronze-level certification from Sustainable Jersey for Schools.  Long Branch curriculum embeds environmental sustainability across all grade levels and subject areas.  Students take learning out of the classroom in field trips to zoos, museums, the beach, and local watersheds.  They debate and write position-based essays on environmental topics.  Weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy, are studied to understand their effects on the school community.  The school partners with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium at Sandy Hook to have students study the environmental impact of sea grass on the dunes.  Special education students grow and harvest herbs and vegetables in their courtyard garden to cook and sell healthy meals to staff members at the student-run Café 63, which produces an annual healthy cookbook to sell each June.  Students compete once a year in an Iron Chef challenge in which students create their own healthy food plates from a list of given ingredients.  Over 95 percent of students walk or bike to school.  >>>>

RIC Bee Education
Rhode Island College has worked closely with the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association to develop its Bee Education Center, consisting of a three-hive apiary, a pollinator garden, an outdoor classroom, and a TV weather station.

Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island College is dedicated to enhancing the environment for those that learn and work on its campus. It is implementing many new initiatives that decrease costs, improve human health, and enhance sustainability learning.  The school has worked with energy services contractor Ameresco to implement fuel and electrical efficiencies across the campus.  Each year, graduates don caps and gowns made from recycled plastic water bottles, which are collected after graduation and again repurposed into carpeting.  The college decreased its use of dumpsters by 55 tons from 2015 to 2016, in large part by working with Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island.  Having installed 12 water bottle filling stations, the college eliminated over 80,000 plastic water bottles from entering the trash stream.  The Keefe Transportation Center offers transportation, via Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, to some 50 locations throughout the state.  The custodial crew uses nontoxic, Green Seal-certified Genesan cleaning agents in all of the buildings on campus.  All freshmen take a first year seminar class that delves into a sustainability theme.  In addition, the college launched a bachelor’s degree program in Environmental Studies in fall 2015.  >>>>

Thacher Wilderness School
Thacher’s Golden Trout Wilderness School, a remote campus in the southern Sierra Nevada, is a valuable tool in introducing the concept of sustainable systems and encouraging students to consider environmentally oriented careers.

The Thacher School, Ojai, California

The Thacher School is a coeducational boarding high school.  The campus is a National Wildlife Federation site that includes 25 acres of citrus and avocados that support the school nutrition program, rain gardens, and Hugelkultur landscaping.  Thacher has adopted the Whole-School Sustainability Framework (developed by the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University and published by The Center for Green Schools at the USGBC) and aligned it with a sustainability action plan. This allows the school to tackle sustainability from all angles. In June 2016, a new solar farm went live, providing 92 percent of the school’s electricity needs.  All projects in the last 10 years were constructed to LEED Silver building standards.  Water conservation projects have sprung up all around campus, including rainwater catchment systems, greywater systems in all of the dormitories, and xeriscaping projects on school grounds.   Thacher’s composting program, which includes horse manure, dining hall food waste, and green waste, processes over 1,600 tons annually.  The product is used for soil augmentation and improves storm water control.  Thacher also raises pigs, which are fed from dining hall scraps.  The school has a bee program that allows the school to process and distribute honey.  Pollinator gardens have been constructed and maintained around campus.  Thacher started a chicken program, which provides eggs for the dining hall.  The chickens also help the horse program by eating fly larvae and consuming green waste and food scraps.  The school offers rock climbing as a sport, and students have the opportunity to travel to Joshua Tree National Park and the Sierra Nevada to camp and climb on weekend trips.  Each incoming freshman student at Thacher is required to take a campus sustainability orientation as part of their official freshman orientation.  Thacher has an extensive equine program in which freshmen are required to ride and care for a horse the entire school year, and many upperclassmen then continue to ride.  Instructors discuss the local ecosystem and mountains, and offer two six-day pack trips per year, plus numerous weekend pack trips.  >>>>

Resources and Opportunities

Race to Zero

Apply to Participate in the Department of Energy Race to Zero Design Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition inspires college students to become the next generation of building science professionals. Through this competition to design zero-energy-ready buildings, future architects, engineers, construction managers, and entrepreneurs gain the skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generate creative solutions to real-world problems.  Design teams should submit applications by Nov. 7, 2017, for the April 20 to 22, 2018, challenge.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Fall

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. (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

Oct. 16, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Dance of the Planets:  Motion Laws and the Solar System (NASA)

Oct. 17, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Oct. 17, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Testing Terror – Technology for Exploration – Speed of Sound (NASA)

Oct. 18, 5–6 p.m.  Testing Terror – Technology for Inspiration:  Engineering a Satellite (NASA)

Oct. 18, 6–7 p.m.  National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series:  NOAA Marine Debris Toolkit for Educators (NOAA)

Oct. 24, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Oct. 25, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Green Teacher Webinar Series:  Eco-System Monitoring Programs (Green Teacher)

Oct. 30, 5–6 p.m.  Simple Machine Shoebox Rovers (NASA)

Oct. 30, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Green Teacher Webinar Series: Telling Your Story With Story Maps (Green Teacher)

Nov. 2, 6–7 p.m.  Earth Sense – Remote Sensing at NASA:  For Your Eyes Only (NASA)

Nov. 8, 1–2 p.m.  WaterWednesday Showcase (EPA)

Nov. 9, 1–2:30 p.m.  Food Organics Waste Prevention & Recovery (CURC)

Nov. 13, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Earth Sense – Remote Sensing at NASA:  My NASA Data (NASA)

Nov. 14, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Space Mathematics:  Linking Math and Science (NASA)

Nov. 15, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Green Teacher Webinar Series—Depaving:  A New Way to Change Cities from Grey to Green (Green Teacher)


Farm 2 School Month Carrots

October is National Farm to School Month…

National Farm to School Month was designated by Congress to symbolize the growing importance of farm to school programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies, and educate children about the origins of food.  The National Farm to School Network has developed resources and activities to promote Farm to School Month in schools, communities, and media outlets. >>>>

AASHE logo

…And Also Campus Sustainability Month

Campus Sustainability Month is a celebration of sustainability in higher education.  During October, colleges and universities organize events on campus and elsewhere to engage and inspire incoming students and other campus stakeholders to become sustainability change agents.  Events include teach ins, sustainability pledge-drives, zero energy concerts, waste audits, green sporting events, letter writing campaigns, and service projects.  >>>> 


Save the Date: Green Schools Conference and Expo is May 3 and 4, 2018, in Denver, Colorado 

The annual Green Schools Conference and Expo, the only national conference bringing together experts and stakeholders to influence sustainability in K–12 schools and districts, allows attendees to learn about creative strategies for success and take home real-life tools that can transform schools.  Early registration begins Oct. 30, 2017!   >>>>

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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