May Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the May 2019 Green Strides ...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools!

The 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) were announced on May 22.  View the list of selectees, a press release, and a report about these schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that are achieving sustainability gains in facilities and grounds, health and wellness, and environmental literacy.  Read this blog highlighting the actions of a few of the 2019 honorees.

If your institution has not already been recognized, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2020 application cycle by using resources and programs available on Green Strides.  Read some common misconceptions about the award dispelled in a blog by the director, and review frequently asked questions on all three award categories.  

For 2020 applications, interested colleges and universities may contact state higher education authorities, while preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and districts may contact state education agencies.  Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are eligible only if nominated by state authorities.  State education authorities may contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.   >>>>

Meet the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Get to know the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report.  Below, we spotlight just a few of the achievements of the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees and will continue to do so in each newsletter for the coming year.

Lopez Island Aquatic Insect Hunt

Elementary students in the Lopez Island School District conduct water sampling and search for aquatic insects at Rishi Pond, one of the many outdoor classroom sites on campus. The pond makes a great site for scientific studies, and is also used as a gathering place for reading time.

Lopez Island School District, Lopez Island, Washington

Lopez Island School District (LISD) sources more than 70 percent its meals on campus or on the island; offers a garden enrichment course for students in grades K–5; and provides career and technical education courses in sustainable agricultural and culinary practices.  The school district employs two gardeners who keep the production garden active year-round. The LISD chef works alongside them in planning the planting schedule so that it aligns with what is served in the kitchen.  LISD offers week-long seminars on specific topics, including rock climbing, wilderness survival, and biking the San Juan Islands.  In 2016, the community passed a bond measure dedicating $9.6 million to modernize and increase energy efficiency at LISD buildings. In partnership with the Bonneville Foundation, the school district installed 9.9 kilowatts of solar panels.  To conserve water, LISD installed low-flow water fixtures and drip irrigation, landscaped with native plants, and reduced irrigation of athletic fields.  LISD composts food scraps, donates leftover meals to those in need, and recycles extensively.  The district currently mandates that each student completes 20 hours of community service before graduation, ensuring civic engagement of students, and, beginning with the class of 2021, that requirement will increase to 60 hours. The Bureau of Land Management and the elementary school have coordinated a Hands on the Land after-school club called Muddy Boots for grades three to five in which students do research at one of the island's ponds.  >>>>

MAST Academy Solar Guard Shack

The MAST Academy PTSA funded and an engineering class designed and constructed an off-grid, solar-powered guard shack using repurposed materials.

MAST Academy, Miami, Florida

In 2015, MAST Academy added new programs and grades, tripling the student body size, and doubled the school’s square footage with a large construction project.  Despite these additions, new efficiency improvements reduced electricity consumption by almost two-thirds. In 2018, the Parent Teacher Student Association partnered with the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science to create the Green Champions program that recognizes MAST students at an end-of-year ceremony, for dedicating community service hours toward sustainability efforts.  MAST installed an electric car charging unit, doubling the electric car presence on campus. The school retrofitted pool lights and the engineering classroom with dimmers, motion sensors, and LED lighting.  It eliminated straws from its cafeteria and replaced Styrofoam trays with compostable ones.  MAST has a mandatory freshman swimming program and offers a triathlon event, which includes a one-mile run on a shaded trail behind the school, a two hundred-meter swim, and a half-mile kayaking component.  MAST students grow their own vegetables onsite, in raised garden beds and indoors for the culinary and experimental science class. The culinary class also coordinates local, organic vegetable delivery for MAST families.  Students can take electives on topics such as solar, experimental science, and engineering. MAST offers a JROTC Coast Guard program.  Students pursue internships with institutions such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Coast Guard, and the University of Miami School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.  The culinary class takes two field trips: 1) to a local farm where students learn about the crops and plant, harvest, and share a picnic with the farmer and 2) to a boat charter excursion where students fish and learn about sustainable fishing.  >>>>

St Leo the Great

Saint Leo the Great students design and build model wind turbines as part of a unit on renewable energy sources.

Saint Leo the Great School, Lincroft, New Jersey

Saint Leo the Great School (SLGS) established a director of operations to bring expertise to its Clean School Initiative, in collaboration with the New Jersey Building and Grounds Association. With EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as its tracking mechanism, the school is using a holistic approach to view the interrelationships among policies, curricula, utility usage, and facility management operations.  A phased program is in progress to replace rooftop HVAC equipment, lighting, windows, and insulation.  SLGS has installed a half-acre solar field, which produces 85 percent of the school’s fossil fuel power needs.  A rooftop drainage system feeds into the courtyard for subsurface watering.  In 2016, the school installed a well, which irrigates the entire 17-acre campus.  The SLGS athletic fields were rebuilt to be graded to drain off a planted berm that feeds down into an outdoor picnic, chapel, and forested area, reducing irrigation demand.  SLGS has installed water-bottle filling stations and has side-by-side trash and recycling bins around campus. The school has begun a curriculum-based composting project in the cafeteria, managed by students.  Bus routes are shared with other schools in the area to consolidate routes for students living in a large geographical area.  The school’s nature courtyard, located in the center of the school building, was designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat and serves as a living classroom for students.  The school is particularly proud of its religious education program that extends its faith-based Catholic history through environmental learning experiences.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Summer


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, publicly available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

May 23, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Overview 2 (NASA)

May 29, 2–2:30 p.m.  The New Locator Tool for ENERGY STAR Certified Buildings and Plants (EPA)

May 29, 3–4 p.m.  AASHE Members Share Their Experience Completing the REFOCUS Applied Learning Program (AASHE)

May 29, 3–4 p.m.  Resources for Implementing State Farm to School Strategies (National Farm to School Network)

May 30, 1–2 p.m.  Participatory Ergonomics & Taking Care of Your Green Cleaning Team (Healthy Schools Campaign)

June 3, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars:  Orion Crew Capsule – Engineering Design (NASA)

June 5, 12–1:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

June 5, 5–6 p.m.  Moon to Mars:  Engineering Design Challenges for Elementary Educators (NASA)

June 10, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Moon to Mars Resource Overview (NASA)

June 11, 1–2 p.m.  Verifying the ENERGY STAR Application (EPA)

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

June 12, 2–3 p.m.  Safe Speeds, Safe Communities:  Partners in Speed Management (America Walks)

June 13, 2–2:30 p.m.  Overview of Changes to 2018 and 2019 ENERGY STAR Certification Application Rules (EPA)

June 13, 3–4 p.m.  Breakfast Matters:  Community Eligibility:  Get Your Final Questions Answered (Food Research & Action Center)

June 18, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

June 18, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Cosmology 101 (NASA)

June 20, 11 a.m.–12 p.m.  5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools (Healthy Schools Campaign)

June 24, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Moon to Mars Resource Overview (NASA)

June 26, 12–12:30 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Resources and Opportunities

Captain Planet Logo

Captain Planet Foundation ecoTech Grants Due July 15

The Captain Planet Foundation offers EcoTech Grants to engage children in inquiry-based, STEM-related projects that leverage technology and/or use nature-based design to address environmental problems in local communities. EcoTech Grants were created to combat the notion that students must choose between “the screen” or “the green,” and to encourage educators and students to explore the role technology can play in designing and implementing solutions to some of the most pressing environmental challenges.  Grants are available in amounts up to $2,500 and support the purchase of materials and other project implementation expenses. >>>>


Indicate Your Interest in Summer LEED Prep Educator Training

EcoRise and the Center for Green Schools are designing a four-day LEED Prep educator training to be held this summer in Austin and Boston. The four-day training will provide high school and college educators with a deep dive into the LEED Prep curriculum using hands-on activities and structured planning time. Participants will collaborate to develop best practices for effective instruction, formative assessment, and student exam preparation. Educators will also learn how to best use their schools, communities, and local green professionals to teach students about LEED principles. Lastly, the training will prepare participants to sit for the LEED Green Associate Exam. Interested teachers can fill out a survey form to indicate their dates of interest.  Respondents will then receive invitations to register for the training. >>>>


Great Outdoors Month Logo

Get Students Outdoors and Active This June During Great Outdoors Month

June is Great Outdoors Month — a celebration of our parks and waters and the many ways to enjoy them. It's also a time to reflect on what we can do to preserve America's natural spaces for the enjoyment of future generations. Looking for ways to get kids outdoors and active?  Check out these nationwide events:  Bike Travel Weekend is May 31—June 2, National Trails Day is June 1, National Get Outdoors Day is June 8, and the Great American Campout is June 22. >>>>


The CELF Summer Institute on Education for Sustainability is July 15—18

The Annual Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation Summer Institute in Education for Sustainability is July 15—18, 2019 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. The Institute equips K-12 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.  The Institute begins by building a learning community and a common vocabulary around sustainability, and progresses with hands-on activities, case studies, guest presentations, evening excursions and field work. >>>>

Shelburne Farms Logo

The Summer Institute on Education for Sustainability at Shelburne Farms is July 2226

The Summer Institute on Education for Sustainability at Shelburne Farms in Vermont  allows educators to spend five rich days with colleagues from around the country at an informative and restorative institute created to give you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of Education for Sustainability. This week is part conference, part workshop, part retreat.  Interactive sessions feature a blend of individual work time, peer-to-peer feedback, resource sharing, hands-on learning experiences, and large and small group discussions. The 2019 Summer Institute will use the lens of sustainability to focus on local, regional and global food systems. 


Raintree school circle time in forest

Forest Kindergarten Conference Aug. 9 – 11

The 2nd Annual American Forest Kindergarten Association Conference will be held Aug. 9 – 11, 2019 at Nature Nuts Forest School in Maple Valley, Washington. Learn valuable “tools of the trade” for best practices, business strategies, research, and advocacy from experts in the field, like keynote speaker Niki Buchan. Share successes and take advantage of networking opportunities with community gatherings throughout the conference. See examples of a program in action.  >>>>

Safe Routes to School Logo

Save the Date for the Safe Routes to School National Conference

The 2019 Safe Routes to School National Conference will be held at the Hilton Tampa Downtown from November 12-14, 2019. Save the date for this opportunity to join hundreds of active transportation and public health advocates and practitioners from across the country for valuable networking, sharing best practices, and exploring one of Florida’s most vibrant and active cities.  >>>>

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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