2018 Director's Award Recipient Announced

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Bethel Tree Planting
At 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee Bethel School District in Washington state, the agricultural program teaches students how to balance sustainability with business practices.

In the News

Penny Taylor headshot

ED-GRS Announces 2018 Director’s Award Recipient

ED has selected Penny Taylor, director of the Office of Healthy Schools at the Florida Department of Education, as the recipient of the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award.  Penny began, in 2012, giving the award a permanent home in her office. Then, in 2014, Penny hosted a Florida Green Strides Tour leg.  She led a committee effort to simplify the Florida application process.  Penny has participated in numerous professional gatherings related to school health, environment, and sustainability. Penny has partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, non-profit Sustainable Florida, as well as curriculum and facilities offices in her agency.  The Memorandum of Understanding Penny devised with several of these partners established the Florida Green School Network, helping to create a pipeline of nominees for ED-GRS recognition and to support the green schools movement in the state.  Penny will be honored, alongside schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions at a ceremony in Washington, DC this fall.


2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Coming Soon!

Participating state education authorities are invited to submit their nominations to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) by March 31.  ED will announce honorees this spring, invite selectees to a celebration in the fall, and conduct a tour to spotlight clusters of honorees, past and present.  Stay tuned for more information on the 2018 announcement!

Now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2019 application cycle by using resources and programs on Green Strides and contacting 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 their 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.   >>>>

Meet More of the 2017 Honorees

As you prepare for spring at school, take inspiration from the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for your own school sustainability ideas.  View the honorees and read about their work on Green Strides.  

Catrambone Principal Completes a Waste Audit With Students
George L. Catrambone Elementary School's principal conducts a waste audit with students, helping to make everyone more cognizant when sorting trash. In the lunchroom, reusable trays help reduce waste as well.

George L. Catrambone Elementary School, Long Branch, New Jersey

The George L. Catrambone Elementary School was built in 2014, using LEED for Schools as a design reference and native plants for its landscaping.  Catrambone received ENERGY STAR certification in 2016 and currently tracks a Portfolio Manager score of 79.  The Power Save Team, a group of second- and fourth-grade students, teams up with New Jersey Natural Gas and the Alliance to Save Energy to reduce the school’s energy consumption.  As a result, the school achieved an 11 percent utility cost, a 14 percent greenhouse gas reduction, and a 40 percent energy savings in a single year.  In the Catrambone courtyard, students constructed a greenhouse from more than 2,000 recycled soda bottles that they collected.  With the growing season extended, students grow enough vegetables and herbs from their gardens to feed students, staff, and the greater community.  Rain barrels in the courtyard collect water for the gardens, reducing irrigation needs, and bioswales on campus help to reduce stormwater runoff.  In a continued effort to reduce waste, single-use water bottles have been eliminated in the building, and a student fundraiser sold reusable water bottles, which raised enough money to purchase new bottle filling stations.  Catrambone students are making healthier choices thanks to a farm to school program and healthy fruit and vegetable snack grants.  Students have 160 minutes of physical activity per week, and staff dance their way to a healthier lifestyle through biweekly workouts after school.  Catrambone has a green cleaning program, is certified asthma-friendly, and is home to an on-campus health center.  In class, students participate in units about endangered species, energy conservation, and recycling. Reading, science, and social studies curricula are tied to content knowledge in sustainability and the environment.   >>>>

Pollination garden Maplewood Richmond Heights
Urban MRHMS has limited outdoor space, but provides a rich curriculum that integrates gardens, aquaponics, urban chickens, beehives, composting, and a rain garden.

Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School, Maplewood, Missouri

Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School (MRHMS) approaches school as an expedition, taking learning outside of the classroom for over 15 percent of the school year.  A sustainability class is offered every semester and also serves as a multi-grade student leadership group to solve sustainability issues in the school.  Students have tackled such issues as water runoff, energy conservation, composting, improving the school’s aquaponics system, and alternative transportation. Through the use of units that revolve around books like Seed Folks or Good Food Revolution, teachers provide MRHMS students with opportunities to explore green initiatives while honoring state standards for learning.  Physical education includes aquatics and a water safety unit in an outdoor pool, archery, skiing, and gardening as a lifetime fitness skill.  Students get outdoors during academic classes as well, through a tree climbing program for physics and biology units, and a physics unit that includes a visit to an ice skating rink to study Newton’s Laws in a near frictionless environment.  To reduce waste, the school uses reusable flatware and compostable trays for takeaway, and students employ one-to-one Chromebooks, leading to a 38 percent diversion rate.  To conserve water, the school installed high efficiency hot water heaters, low-flow and automatic fixtures, and a water bottle filling station.  As a farm to school leader, MRHMS’ cafe maintains partnerships with local farmers and universities, and every student is provided a free breakfast.    >>>>

LSU Outdoor ED program
Louisiana State University is home to the LSU lakes, the renowned campus forest, and the Endow-an-Oak program. LSU Dining offers green, local food choices, as well as a seasonal farmers market. The university’s recreation center has many health and exercise related programs, including an outdoor adventure program for students.

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In 2008, Louisiana State University (LSU) hired a full-time campus sustainability manager. Today, that staff member has evolved into a multi-member team dedicated to implementing a wide range of efforts.  To ensure the broadest possible buy-in and solicit diverse ideas and perspectives, LSU’s Campus Sustainability Office has led the effort to assemble its Campus Committee on Sustainability, a group whose purpose is to set short and long term sustainability-related goals.  The committee’s responsibilities encompass energy efficiency, green building, landfill diversion and recycling, transportation, food, procurement, forests and grounds, and communication, with subcommittees established for each area.  LSU has been the recipient of state and national awards and honors for its sustainability efforts, including environmental leadership awards from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality; Bicycle Friendly University; Tree Campus USA; and Green Sports Alliance.  LSU has also been selected for several grants in the past few years, including three $10,000 awards from Keep Louisiana Beautiful for sustainability-related improvements and projects on campus.  The LSU student body voted to establish a fund to be used for projects related to sustainability that will be proposed by students, faculty, and staff.  Academic programs range from research on Louisiana’s diminishing coastline to forestry, renewable resources, climate change, and beyond.  LSU’s School of the Coast and Environment, College of Agriculture, School of Plant and Soil Systems, and School of Renewable Natural Resources all offer students top-quality education and research opportunities in sustainability and environmental protection.  Coastal research at LSU is specially highlighted.  More than 200 faculty members are currently involved in coastal-related research, and LSU has more than 450 coastal-related grants, totaling $73 million. >>>>

Resources and Opportunities

Carton 2 Garden

The Carton 2 Garden Contest Deadline Is April 16

The Carton 2 Garden Contest is open to public and private K12 schools.  Winners are selected based on their implementation of an innovative garden creation featuring creative and sustainable uses for repurposed milk and juice cartons.  >>>>

Sea World Busch Gardens Grant Seekers Animal photo

SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund Grants are Due April 30

The Fund has 4 major areas of focus: species research, habitat protection, conservation education, and animal rescue and rehabilitation. Each year the Fund has specific conservation priorities it supports.  Your programs must align with these priorities.  >>>>


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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov for listing. (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Mar. 20, 12 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Mar. 20, 34:15 p.m.  Disruptive Storytelling:  How to Go Beyond Hero, Victim, Villain (NAAEE)    

Mar. 20, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Technology Drives Exploration – BEST Satellite and Engineering Design (NASA)

Mar. 21, 3–4 p.m.  Reducing Electricity Use in Campus Residence Halls (AASHE)

Mar. 22, 6–7 p.m.  Technology Drives Exploration:  Robotics on a Budget (NASA)

Mar. 26, 4:305:30 p.m.  Technology Drives Exploration:  Integrating NASA Based Digital Content in Your Classroom (NASA)

Mar. 28, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Mar. 28, 67 p.m.  Technology Drives Exploration:  Careers (NASA)

Mar. 29, 56 p.m.  Technology Drives Exploration:  STEM Interactive Technology (NASA)

Apr. 2, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Earth Right Now:  Understanding the A-Train (NASA)

Apr. 3, 1:302:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Apr. 3, 6:307:30 p.m.  Earth Right Now:  Sally Ride EarthKAM (NASA)

Apr. 4, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Earth Right Now:  Meteorology Educator Guide (NASA)

Apr. 5, 23 p.m.  Trending Topics in Farm to School – Farm to ECE:  Family Engagement in Farm to ECE (NFSN)

Apr. 9, 34 p.m.  Recursos de NASA para el salon de clase 1 (NASA)

Apr. 9, 5–6 p.m.  Earth Right Now:  Problem Based Learning, Erosions and Landslides (NASA)

Apr. 10, 12 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Apr. 10, 45 p.m.  More Plants Please! (Chef Ann Foundation)

Apr. 10, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Earth Right Now:  Water Filtration & Engineering Design (NASA)

Apr. 11, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Apr. 11, 23 p.m.  Street Harassment on the Walk to School:  Making Our Streets a Safe Space for All (Safe Routes to School National Partnership)

Apr. 12, 6–7 p.m.  Earth Right Now:  Weather and Climate (NASA)



National Environmental Education Week is April 2329

National Environmental Education Week is held each spring around Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship. This year's theme is “Environmental Education: Every Way and Every Day.”  Throughout the week, NEEF invites individuals and organizations to explore their own connections to the environment, showcase how they are leveraging these insights to make a difference on behalf of the environment, and share their stories to help others to join the charge.>>>>

Breathe Easies

 May Is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

May is Asthma Awareness Month. School-based asthma programs can help children learn more about asthma through fun activities. Children can sing along with the Breathe Easies, play games in the Dusty the Goldfish Funbook, or learn about air quality in the book Why is Coco Orange?, all while learning how to better control their asthma. The Asthma Community Network can help you plan and promote effective events in your community—check out the Event Planning KitCalendarPrograms, Mapvideospodcasts and webinars—to learn about successful strategies for improving asthma management in schools. >>>> 


The Green Schools Conference and Expo is May 3 and 4, 2018, in Denver, Colorado 

The 2018 Green Schools Conference and Expo will focus on ways to inspire students to create and innovate by focusing on the future, encouraging each other to approach our global challenges as stewards of the earth, its resources, and its people. Experienced educators will address how green schools impact students and how sustainability efforts at school play an important part in equity and inclusion. Workshops and education sessions by passionate professionals will cover the latest trends and case studies in energy efficiency, facilities management, public health and sustainability education.  The deadline for early bird registration is March 16.  >>>> 


2018 CELF Summer Institute: Education for Sustainability

The Annual CELF Summer Institute in Education for Sustainability (July 9–12, 2018, Manhattanville College, New York) is an intensive four-day workshop that enables teachers to integrate the concepts of sustainability into their existing curricula. The institute equips K12 teachers with practices and teaching methods to address the core concepts of education for sustainability  the intersection of social, economic, and ecological systems  and how the balance of those three systems is vital to a sustainable future, and relevant to all subject areas.  >>>>

NAAEE 2018 Conference Logo

North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference – Save the Date

The 47th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held in Spokane, Washington from Oct. 9–13, 2018. The theme for this year’s conference is "EE: A Force for the Future."  For more than four decades, NAAEE has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals, designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices. The annual research symposium, held in advance of the conference, attracts new and established researchers to examine in-progress EE research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.  Submit a proposal to present at this year’s conference by April 2.  >>>>

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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