December 2018 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the December 2018 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

States' Deadlines for Green Schools Applicants Fast Approaching!

Many states' application periods for 2018–19 cycle nominees to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools will be closing around the holidays.  State education agencies often collaborate with other state agencies and partners to administer the program and ultimately nominate their selections to the U.S. Department of Education by Feb. 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.  Often, hearing from interested schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions helps states determine whether or not to participate.  >>>>

Penny Taylor 2018 Director's Award Recipient

The 2019 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award: Nominations Due March 1

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. If you wish to nominate a state education official, please send your nomination letter to by March 1st.  Any state education official who is involved in implementing the ED-GRS award and who has not already won the Director’s Award is eligible for nomination.  Read about the work of past ED-GRS Director’s Award recipients. >>>>

Green Strides Design

Consult the Improved Green Strides Website

Launched in 2015, thanks to generous support from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, Green Strides is ED’s portal for sustainable schools resources.  The site has recently been updated with even more case studies, articles, reports, tutorials, and guidelines that your school or district may wish to reference in its greening efforts.  Also check out the map with past ED-GRS honorees and the webinar calendar.  >>>>

Meet the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

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.  

Top of the World Elementary School

Top of the World Elementary School uses place-based environmental education through buildings, grounds, and the neighborhood. Students even engage in environmental education through art.

Top of the World Elementary School, Laguna Beach, California

Top of the World Elementary School (TOW) features three on-site gardens totaling half an acre, which are used as outdoor classroom spaces.  They include an outdoor amphitheater, a fire-safe garden, a composting corner, an 18-foot geodesic dome greenhouse, a five senses garden, a certified monarch waystation pollinator garden, a cooking station, and a window to the canyon learning area.  Kindergartners have a raised vegetable bed, worm bin, and apple tree.  A growing dome is designed as a self-sufficient, net-zero energy structure where students can interact with sustainable design in a hands-on manner.  Students visit the gardens weekly, participating in lessons aligned to the California State Standards.  A 35-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system installed in 2002 was updated in 2015 to restore production capacity.  TOW participates in Waste Management’s yellow bag program, in which the hauler provides the school with 46-gallon yellow bags for food waste.  In 2017, TOW replaced three portable classrooms with new, permanent, modular buildings designed to meet green building standards.  TOW uses place-based environmental education through buildings, grounds, and the neighborhood.  TOW’s Student Nutrition Advisory Committee  is a PTA committee focused on promoting health and wellness, offering programs such as Harvest of the Month and a range of parent education efforts.  >>>>

Georgia Southern Plastic Bottle Boat

Georgia Southern University (GSU) students build a functioning boat out of recycled bottles. All GSU students are required to take an environmental science course prior to graduation that emphasizes interdisciplinary learning to solve sustainability problems.

Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia

Georgia Southern University (GSU) formed a sustainability committee to develop a Climate Action Plan, with all campus capital improvement, maintenance, and operational initiatives now considered against the commitments of the plan.  GSU has been one of the state’s top participants in the Georgia Power Company Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program and has earned eight green building certifications.  It was one of the first universities in Georgia to irrigate with grey water.  Dining facilities operate pulpers that reduce the volume of food waste; recycle used cooking oil for conversion into biodiesel; and have eliminated food trays.  The campus features a free community electric vehicle charger, a cross-campus natural corridor consisting of preserved woodlands and wetlands, dedicated bike lanes, and a farmer's market.  GSU offers an interdisciplinary concentration in environmental sustainability for undergraduates of any major.  The student green fee of $10 supports sustainability initiatives, such as an after school garden program in local schools, campus community gardens, composting, RecycleMania participation, residence hall recycling incentive program, and No-Impact Week activities.  The Center for Sustainability hosts annual GreenFest for the local community, as well as a sustainability seminar series.  Engineering professors have received some $524,000 to bring cutting-edge renewable energy research into high school and technical school classrooms in high-need rural areas of Georgia.    >>>>

River's Edge Academy Snowshoeing

Students at River's Edge Academy (REA) participate in a four-day, three-night hiking trip. They also partake in intensive courses twice a year, such as fishing, boat building, gardening, and winter survival lessons.

River’s Edge Academy, St. Paul, Minnesota

River’s Edge Academy (REA) is an environmental charter high school in Westside St. Paul, Minnesota.  REA has reduced electricity usage by installing more efficient light fixtures and motion sensors, and by using LED task lighting in classrooms.  It has programmed thermostats to turn down during off-peak times, put up insulating film on windows, and reduced the temperature of its water heater.  The school has cut the amount of waste sent to landfill by initiating a compost collection and a thorough recycling program, working with the county to improve waste bin placement, signage, and educational outreach.  REA provides reusable service ware for all meals. REA works with Patagonia to accept clothing that is slightly damaged or used beyond resale, and gives this gear to students in need.  REA encourages the use of public transportation by offering a free shuttle to and from the downtown transit hub and makes it easy for students to bike to school with a free bike-share program and bike safety classes.  REA’s outdoor classroom includes a vegetable garden and chicken coop, and a citizen science tulip test garden.  During one week each year, all content teachers work together to teach an interdisciplinary environmental unit across their classes.  Spring activities include gardening, fishing, and boat building.  At the beginning of the year, each homeroom class selects a service project site that they serve once a month throughout the year. >>>>

Resources and Opportunities

Voices for Healthy Kids Logo

Voices for Healthy Kids Grant Opportunities Available

Voices for Healthy Kids is offering new grant opportunities. This round of funding will be an open call for proposals. Applications should support a Voices for Healthy Kids Policy Lever and be submitted by Jan. 11, 2019. >>>>

Best of Green Schools Awards

Submit Nominations for the Best of Green Schools Award

The 2019 Best of Green Schools Awards, co-presented by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council and the Green Schools National Network, celebrate the hard work being done by individuals, schools, campuses and organizations to push the green schools movement forward. If you or someone you know is making significant strides toward creating more sustainable schools, submit a nomination by Jan. 18.  >>>>


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 youths, 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 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.  EPA will select up to two winners in each of its 10 regions – one regional winner for grades K–5 and one regional winner for grades 6–12.  Applications are due Feb. 1, 2019.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Winter


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.)

Jan. 3, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Flight:  Breaking Barriers – Linear Equations (NASA)

Jan. 9, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Jan. 9, 1–2:15 p.m.  How Trees Influence Urban Stormwater Management in Green Infrastructure Practices (USDA)

Jan. 9, 2–3:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Jan. 9, 6–7 p.m.  Flying in Our Atmosphere – How High is It? (NASA)

Jan. 14, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Flight:  Exploring the Extreme – Force and Motion (NASA)

Jan. 15, 6–7 p.m.  Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies (National Marine Sanctuaries)

Jan. 16, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manage 201 (EPA)

Jan. 16, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Exploring Learning Stories (Green Teacher)

Jan. 17, 5–6 p.m.  Real World Balloon Aerodynamics (NASA)

Jan. 23, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Jan. 23, 1–1:30 p.m.  Best Practices for Benchmarking your Building (EPA)

Jan. 23, 2–3 p.m.  Portfolio Manage 301 (EPA)

Jan. 23, 5–6 p.m.  Explore Flight with Elementary STEM Science and Literacy Connections (NASA)



Green Schools Conference & Expo Registration Continues

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 colocated 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 Continues

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.  >>>>

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