July 2019 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the July Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

Going for a 2020 Green Ribbon?

The 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) were announced on May 22.  See the list of awardees and a report about these schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that are achieving sustainability gains encompassing 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 about 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

Get to Know 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 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.

Raintree School student writing about nature

The native landscapes that surround the Raintree School on the nearly 11-acre wooded campus serve as the foundation for every child’s experience, the curriculum, and the approach in every classroom.

Raintree School, St. Louis, Missouri

Raintree School is a private, Reggio Emilia-inspired forest school, serving children ages 2 to 8.  Raintree installed a 51-kW solar array, providing 80 percent of the school’s electricity.  All impervious surfaces drain to a water retention basin with a native raingarden.  Raintree composts food waste to fertilize its gardens.  Kitchen policies include no plastics and no disposables, as well as ardent efforts to re-use leftovers.  In February 2014, the campus ended use of paper towels in bathrooms, replaced by electric hand-dryers powered by solar panels.  Raintree has two electric car chargers on site that are free and available to the public.  An online carpool database includes parent schedules and addresses to aide in coordinating carpool relationships. The campus is a pesticide-free property on which only green-certified cleaning products are used. All paint and wood finishes used in building are zero or low-volatile organic compound.  Radon is tested bi-annually.  Two full-time chefs are dedicated to the preparation of locally sourced meals and to offering regular cooking classes for parents.  Every semester, all students engage in action projects that focus on the woodland or the neighborhood surrounding the forest.  Raintree has made play in wild outdoor spaces a regular part of the school week, year round, rain or shine.

Sharon Measurements

The Sharon Elementary School Garden is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat and an Atlanta Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sharon Elementary School, Suwanee, Georgia

The Sharon Elementary School (SES) outdoor classroom includes a pergola with handicap accessible tables;  a concrete path stamped with native Georgia animals and plants; an amphitheater;  a native rock garden;  a  butterfly garden; a loofah garden; a three-sided barn; signage for self-directed learning; a tool shed; a WeatherBug Station; and six simple machines.  Compost bins provide nutrients for the garden and an erosion table helps to teach about resource management.  Other projects include a water-wicking bog, a Venus flytrap, an in-ground sundial ellipse, and an archaeological dig site. The science lab hatches a new bird species each spring, including Indian Runner ducks, Top Hat chickens, quail, and emu.  SES also hatches and raises a variety of praying mantises, butterflies, moths, worms, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Students provide daily care for a bearded dragon, two eyelash-crested geckos, and two White’s Dumpy tree frogs.  An indoor tower garden adds salad to daily lunches and vegetables grown in 10 raised beds and harvests from two 20x20-foot plots are used in the school lunch.  A chicken coop has seven hens, whose eggs are used in the cafeteria and offered to staff and families.  SES collects water in a 200-gallon cistern buried underneath its outdoor classroom area, which is used to irrigate the crops. 

Lake Washington Garden Class

Students at Emerson High School in Lake Washington School District work to finish a hoop house as part of the Green Sustainable Design Technology class.

Lake Washington School District, Redmond, Washington

Lake Washington School District (LWSD) has the largest solar-energy capacity of any district in the state, at 615 kilowatts.  Waste-reduction and recycling efforts have reduced costs by $120,000 per year since 2008.  All schools recycle and about 75 percent of the schools collect organic food waste for composting at a regional facility.  LWSD students have unlimited access to fresh fruits and vegetables in lunch garden bars.  "Local Wednesday" features locally sourced foods. Elementary students have morning and afternoon recess each day, in addition to P.E. twice weekly.  LWSD is one of 12 districts in the nation to receive Excellence in Integrated Pest Management star certification by passing a rigorous 37- point evaluation.  In 2017, LWSD received the Green Cleaning Award from American School and University Magazine.  Courses include Physics in the Universe, Environmental Science, Sustainable Design, and Urban Gardening.  The Lake Washington Parent Teacher School Association (PTSA) Council established a district PTSA Sustainability Committee, with parent representative chairs in every school.  

Resources and Opportunities


Deadline Extended for Application to Present at the 2020 Green Schools Conference & Expo

Mark your calendars for the Green Schools Conference and Expo, which will be held March 2–4 in Portland, Oregon.  The session proposal and peer reviewer application deadline has been extended until Aug.1.  Focus areas include: 1) what it means to be a green school; 2) whole-school sustainability; and 3) the three Pillar areas of ED-GRS!  

Every Kid in A Park Logo

Every Kid in A Park Continues

Every Kid in a Park encourages stewardship of public lands by introducing children and underserved communities to park sites, forests, and seashores, as well as recreational opportunities within these spaces.  The program provides free passes to fourth-graders and their accompanying families to access hundreds of parks, lands, and waters for a year. Some state parks also honor the pass. 

Resource Central

Reduced Rate Participation in Renew Our Schools for Title I Schools

A grant from All Points North Foundation will allow some 30 underserved middle schools to participate in Resource Central's energy reduction program, Renew Our Schools, for only $200. The program has schools compete to reduce their energy use by changing their school’s energy behaviors.  The program allows students to analyze their school’s energy use and make efforts to reduce it.  >>>>

Green Apple Day of Service Logo

Plan a Green Apple Day of Service at Your School This Fall

A Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects.  Check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, and register your project online.  


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This 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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov. (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

July 25, 11 a.m.–12 p.m.  Vibrant and Healthy Kids:  Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity (American Public Health Association)

July 25, 1:30–3 p.m.  Mapping Your Waste Stream and What to Do with It (College & University Recycling Coalition)

July 25, 3–4 p.m.  Climate Projections as a Way to Illustrate Future Possibilities (DOI)

July 29, 2–3 p.m.  Launching Efforts to Create Safe and Equitable Access to Parks (Safe Routes Partnership)

July 29, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Moon to Mars Resource Overview (NASA)

July 30, 5–6 p.m.  What’s Up in the Atmosphere? The Air We Breathe (NASA)

July 30, 7–8:30 p.m.  Teacher Webinars:  Mapping Air Pollution (Alliance for Climate Education)

July 31, 3–4 p.m.  Teaching Your Robot to Fetch (NASA)

July 31, 3–4 p.m.  Understanding Sustainability Through Transdisciplinary Narratives (AASHE)

July 31, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Humans in Space – Pressure Suits (NASA)

August 1, 1–2 p.m.  Trending Topics in Farm to School:  State Local Purchasing Incentive Bills (National Farm to School Network)

August 6, 12–1:30 p.m.  Online Tools are Making Sustainability Management in Higher Education Easy (AASHE)

August 6, 1–2:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

August 6, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Small Steps to Giant Leaps:  Sound Effects (NASA)

August 7, 12–12:45 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

August 7, 1–2 p.m.  Make a Splash with Quick Water Wins (EPA)

August 7, 2–3 p.m.  Graphic Public Health:  Comics for Health Literacy, Health Promotion and Advocacy (American Public Health Association)

August 7, 3–4 p.m.  STARS Incorporation into Capability-Based General Education Curriculum (AASHE)

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

August 8, 5–6 p.m.  NASA STEM Lessons on Coding Flight Patterns (NASA)

August 13, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

August 13, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Explore Flight:  Flying with Bernoulli (NASA)

August 14, 1–2:15 p.m.  Quantifying Rainfall Interception in the Urban Canopy (USDA)

August 14, 2–3 p.m.  Community Outreach Strategies for Transportation (America Walks)

August 14, 3–4 p.m.  Exciting and Effective Community – Higher Education Collaborations (AASHE)

August 14, 5–6 p.m.  Explore Flight:  Let’s Go Fly a Kite (NASA)

August 15, 2–3 p.m.  Benchmarking Water & Wastewater Treatment Plants in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

August 20, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

August 21, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

August 22, 2–3 p.m.  Overview of Changes to 2018 and 2019 Certification Application Rules (EPA)


A4LE Logo

Association for Learning Environments LearningSCAPES 2019 Conference Is Oct. 4–6

LearningSCAPES is the conference for those who plan, design, equip, furnish, and maintain places where students learn. This year’s conference will be held Oct. 4–6 in Anaheim, California. Attend for groundbreaking educational sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future.  

NAAEE Conference Slider

North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference Is Oct. 16–19

The 48th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Annual Conference will be held in Lexington, Kentucky, Oct. 16–19.  The theme for this year’s conference is Educating for a Just and Sustainable Future.  NAAEE convenes 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 environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.  >>>>

ED Spaces 2019

EDspaces 2019 Conference Is Oct. 23–25

EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, dealers, pre-K–12 schools, colleges and universities, independent manufacturers representatives, exhibitors, and corporations to learn about trends and experience the latest products and services to enhance student learning. This year’s conference will be held Oct. 23–25 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  >>>>

AASHE 2019 Conference Slider

AASHE 2019 Conference Is Oct. 27–30

The 2019 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference is Oct. 27–30 in Spokane, Washington.  It is the largest stage in North America to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations, and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities. With a theme of Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy, this year's conference seeks to showcase and strengthen higher education’s contributions to the movement for a sustainable economy.  

Safe Routes to School Logo

Safe Routes to School  Conference Nov. 12–14

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

FAU Lab School District middle school students hike on the nature trail.

Middle school students at 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee Florida Atlantic University Lab School District hike on their nature trail.

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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