The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Living School Grounds in Missouri

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the November Green Strides...

In the News


In the Kirkwood School District, Keysor Elementary School’s Project IDEA is the centerpiece of its outdoor learning efforts. These living school grounds, which benefit from tremendous community support, include a dry creek, several raingardens, a student seed-stomped prairie, pollinator gardens, bird and bee habitats, food gardens, sensory gardens, a greenhouse, and other outdoor structures.

The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Living School Grounds in Missouri

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy, and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoor physical activity; and environmental education.  As part of its Green Strides outreach, ED conducts an annual tour to spotlight the work of past and present honorees, and bring more attention to their practices.


ED-GRS director Andrea Falken, accompanied by various state and local officials, visited schools in the St. Louis, Missouri, area on Oct. 24 and 25, as part of the ED-GRS Green Strides Tour. “Living school grounds" was the theme of this year’s tour, inspired by how honorees leverage school grounds to teach about the environment, improve health, and reduce environmental impacts, thus advancing in all three ED-GRS Pillars.  Read about the tour from Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Science Coordinator Kristen McKinney.  >>>> 

SLUH School Produce

One highlight of the Green Strides Tour was visiting Saint Louis University High School, where guests sampled school garden grown fried green tomatoes and mixed greens. They learned about students’ high efficiency race car design effort, and visited an expansive garden with apiary and composting.

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

States Seeking Green School, District, and Postsecondary Institution Nominees Now!

Many states have begun their selection of 2018–19 cycle nominees for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.  Usually this involves a state-specific application process.  State education agencies may collaborate with other state agencies and partners to administer the program and ultimately will nominate this cycle's selections to the U.S. Department of Education by February 15, 2019.


Check to see if you state participates in ED-GRS by locating your state recognition award administrator here.  Alternatively, you can contact your chief state school officer to request participation.  Often, hearing from interested schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions helps states determine whether or not to participate.  >>>>

3Ts kids and backpacks

EPA Releases Updated 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Toolkit 

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its “3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Toolkit.” The toolkit covers training, testing, and taking action in reducing lead in drinking water. The revised version is available in an interactive web format and includes modules, customizable templates, and tools that can help schools and child care facilities when implementing their lead testing programs. EPA has also published a map that links to state programs for reducing the presence of lead in drinking water and highlights various voluntary and regulatory efforts across the country.  >>>> 

Meet the 2018 ED-GRS Awardees

Congratulations to the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  View the honorees and read about their work on the Green Strides website and on the ED awards page.  Three of the honorees are spotlighted below.  

Highland Greenhouse

The Highland Regional High School greenhouse and courtyard provide hands-on learning opportunities for horticulture and AP environmental studies classes.

Highland Regional High School, Blackwood, New Jersey

Highland Regional High School (HRHS) has reduced energy costs by 12 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent over five years. The school has two large rain gardens with a 450-foot bioswale for stormwater management.  Drinking fountains have been outfitted with water bottle refilling stations, and reusable bottles are sold at the school store.  HRHS implemented composting, discontinued the use of chemicals to strip flooring, and installed high efficiency filters in HVAC systems.  Faculty members participate in an eight-week mindfulness program, a weight loss contest, and healthy eating preparation workshops.  Students are also invited to attend a weekly mindfulness class.  HRHS sources produce and dairy products from local farms.  A greenhouse and courtyards provide hands-on learning opportunities.  Students participate in the Thirst Project, raising money to establish fresh wells in Africa, and they complete research and prepare presentations for the annual Envirothon.  Students also devised a sustainable design for a vacant lot in the community and presented their plan to their local government.  >>>>

Honowai professional development

Teachers learn about the process of harnessing energy at Honowai Elementary School through the Ka Hei program. Honowai educators received professional development to connect the physical changes of the facility to hands-on, inquiry-based learning for students.

Honowai Elementary School, Waipahu, Hawaii

Honowai Elementary School’s (HES') recent efficiency measures include interior and exterior LED retrofits, refrigeration system and electric motor upgrades, ventilation controls, roofing insulation, and retro-commissioning of existing heating and cooling equipment.  HES has an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score of 96, having reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 58 percent, and energy use by 42 percent, in just one year.  It has 492 solar photovoltaic modules that generate 400 kilowatt-hours per day of clean power.  Outdoor field trips bring students to a 70-acre tidal wetland with canoeing.  The campus has a taro patch, which provides a traditional sustainable source of food, as well as hydroponics and aquaponics systems.  >>>>

University of Illinois at Chicago LEED Gold

All buildings constructed since 2018 at University of Illinois at Chicago has achieved a LEED rating, with three buildings achieving gold status, and one receiving silver status.

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has two photovoltaic systems that generate approximately 120 megawatt hours per year while UIC‘s geothermal heat-pump provides heating and cooling to three buildings.  All full-time students receive a transit pass for unlimited use, and employees can participate in a pre-tax transit benefit program.  A 2014 EPA Rainworks award-winning student project is the basis for UIC’s green infrastructure plan.  With nearly 5,000 trees and 100 species, UIC has been a certified Tree Campus USA since 2011.  A pop-up food pantry provides groceries to students, and student volunteers for Food Recovery Network collect food to provide to shelters.  The School of Public Health developed a staff wellness program that includes competitions, exercise classes, and wellness talks.  UIC features a 2,000 square foot Illinois native prairie garden and several gardens that produce food for educational purposes.  Five of UIC’s colleges offer courses, minors, and degrees in programs that are related to the environment and sustainability, including a new minor in sustainable cities.  The school’s Summer Institute for Sustainability and Energy is a two-week intensive program that promotes the inclusion of basic energy science research into entrepreneurial endeavors by future scientists, business leaders, and policymakers.  >>>>

Resources and Opportunities


This Year’s Green Apple Day of Service Offers Access to Mini-Grants

Green Apple Day of Service is an opportunity to join schools across the world in celebrating the central role they play in preparing the next generation of leaders in sustainability. A school’s event improves the learning environment while strengthening student civic leadership, environmental literacy, and project management skills. Since it began in 2012, Green Apple Day of Service has inspired over 900,000 volunteers in 80 countries to act in support of sustainability at their schools. Schools and the community leaders who support them can choose their own date for their project, and they have access to mini-grants and personalized guidance to help them make their projects a reality. Sign up and register your project by March 15, 2019>>>> 

Farm fresh food

FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Program RFA Now Available!

USDA will award up to $7.5 million in competitive grants to eligible entities through the Farm to School Grant Program in fiscal year 2019. Each grant helps implement farm to school programs that increase access to local food in eligible schools, providing students with quality meals at a reasonable cost while also supporting local producers. The request for applications includes three tracks—implementation, planning, and training — with each providing funding for a specific range of activities.  >>>>


Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Seeks Proposals

The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant program aims to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships focused on improving water quality, watersheds and the species and habitats they support. Potential projects include a variety of ecological improvements along with targeted community outreach, education, and stewardship. Projects should increase access to the benefits of nature, reduce the impact of environmental hazards, and engage local communities, particularly underserved communities, in project planning, outreach, and implementation. Proposals are due by Jan. 31, 2019.  >>>>


Call for Applications for the President’s Environmental Youth Award

The application period is now open for the 2018 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program. The PEYA program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth, promoting awareness of our nation's natural resources and encouraging positive community involvement.  Winners of this year’s awards will be invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in mid-2019, and have their project highlighted on EPA’s website.  EPA will select up to two winners in each of EPA’s 10 Regions – one regional winner for Grades K-5 and one regional winner for Grades 6-12.  Applications are due February 1, 2019.  >>>>

Green Schoolyards Evaluation Framework Cover

Green Schoolyards Resource Hub

Children and Nature Network's Green Schoolyards Resource Hub offers tools for municipal leaders, administrators, school staff, parents, and community members to advocate for, implement, fully use, and steward citywide or school districtwide green schoolyard programs. Resources help with: making the case for a green schoolyard, securing funding, design, policymaking, learning, partnerships, management and evaluation, and other topics related to green schoolyards.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through the Holiday Season


The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 1,000 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 for listing additional free, publically available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Nov. 19, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars:  Ascent Abort 2 TestEngineering Challenge (NASA)

Nov. 26, 5–6 p.m.  Human Space Flight: Spacecraft Engineering Design Challenges (NASA)

Nov. 27, 3–4 p.m.  Social Justice in Schools (North American Association for Environmental Education)

Nov. 27, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Flight: Principles of Flight (NASA)

Nov. 28, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio ManagerAsk the Expert (EPA)

Nov. 28, 5–6 p.m.  STEM Engagement with Lunar Hotels and Mother Ships (NASA)

Nov. 29, 1–2 p.m.  Demand 101Tracking and Benchmarking in Electric Demand in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

Dec. 4, 3–4 p.m.  Better Buildings Challenge: Technology Research Team Showcase! (DOE)

Dec. 6, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Moon to Mars – Deep Space Exploration:  Orion Crew Capsule – Engineering Design (NASA)

Dec. 10, 5–6 p.m.  Touchdown Engineering Design Challenges (NASA)

Dec. 11, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Bernoulli’s Principle of Flight (NASA)

Dec. 12, 3–4 p.m.  Campus Utility Master Plan and Net Zero Carbon Strategy:  Getting to Zero at a Small Liberal Arts College (AASHE)

Dec. 13, 6–7 p.m.  Human Space Flight:  Living in Microgravity (NASA)

Dec. 18, 2–3 p.m.  Reducing Underage Drinking with Practical Tools that Develop Social and Emotional Skills (American Public Health Association)

Dec. 18, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Moon to Mars – Deep Space Exploration:  Gateway – Power for Exploration (NASA)



Green Schools Conference and Expo Registration Is Open

The 2019 Green Schools Conference & Expo (GSCE) will be held on April 8 and 9 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota and is co-located with IMPACT, USGBC's regional Midwest sustainability conference.  GSCE is the only national event to bring together all of the players involved in making green schools a reality: people who lead, operate, build, and teach in U.S. schools.  Attendees engage in hands-on learning, participate in in-depth discussions and problem solving, and get inspired by speakers at the forefront of connecting sustainability, social justice, and education.  An early-bird registration discount of 25 percent applies through Jan. 25, 2019.  Green Schools National Network members receive early-bird pricing regardless of when they register. >>>>

Children and Nature Logo

Children and Nature Network 2019 International Conference Registration Is Open

Join the Children and Nature Network for the largest gathering of children and nature advocates in the world, May 16-18, 2019 in Oakland, California. From inspiring keynotes to hands-on workshops, this biennial conference will inspire and equip you with best practices for increasing equitable access to nature for the children, families, and communities you serve. Early bird rate ends on Nov. 30.  >>>>

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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