February 2020 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the February 2020 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

Twenty-Seven States Submitted Nominations for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Twenty-seven states submitted 67 nominees to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) by the Feb. 14 deadline.  The 2020 federal review is underway, and ED will announce the 2020 cohort in the spring, notifying honorees via email.  The institutions' names will appear on ED's website and in a press release.  Honored institutions will be invited to send representatives to a summer recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

For institutions that have not already been honored (this is a one-time award), now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021 application cycle by using resources and programs on Green Strides and to contact your state authority. For future cycles, interested colleges and universities should contact 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 email U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information. 

John Olson Director's Award Recipient

The 2020 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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov by March 1.  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

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

In a few months, we will be announcing the 2020 ED-GRS cohort.  Until then, continue to learn from the 2019 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.  

Gardening at Boston Green Academy

Boston Green Academy's entire south-facing lawn has been converted into an outdoor classroom and garden that was designed, built, and is still maintained by students. It includes eleven 4’x8’ raised beds, eight outdoor tables, and six workbenches.

Boston Green Academy, Brighton, Massachusetts

All grade levels and all content teams at Boston Green Academy (BGA) high school complete a term-long interdisciplinary project focused on sustainability, called Green Exhibitions.  Juniors and seniors complete a four-hour job shadow in a sustainability field and all seniors complete a six-week, 150-hour sustainability internship.  High school students create an online green portfolio, which they present and defend in front of a panel of judges and the community.  Urban ecology, environmental science, and green physics are required courses.  Green engineering and AP environmental science are elective classes.  During an annual Project Week, students spend an entire week off campus with the greater Boston community and beyond.  Each of BGA’s middle school grades stays on Thompson Island for an immersive three-day outdoor environmental science learning adventure each fall and a one-day team-building and leadership experience each spring.  The entire eighth-grade class visits the White Mountains in New Hampshire every spring for a three-day, two-night outdoor leadership experience.  All sixth-graders visit Hale Reservation in Westwood, Massachusetts for a day of outdoor team building and leadership training.  The BGA outdoor club facilitates students' participation in camping, hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.  Career and technical education students started a composting initiative, and a share table in the cafeteria helps reduce untouched food waste.

St. James Academy succulent study

St. James’ holistic and spiritual approach to environmental and sustainability education cuts across all STEAM (science, technology, engineering, fine and performing arts, and math) disciplines as well as social studies, religion, and community service classes.

St. James Academy, Solana Beach, California

St. James Academy replaced all overhead lighting with LED and added rooftop solar panels to generate 98 percent of the school’s electricity onsite.  The school grounds include a 3,400-square-foot green schoolyard and outdoor classroom, an 1,800-square-foot tree-shaded patio, and a 1,500-square-foot edible garden. The only grass on campus is on the athletic field that is used for physical education and sports.  Outdoor education at St. James is supported by a dedicated sustainability teacher and master gardener.  The fifth-grade class attends an overnight trip on the world's oldest active sailing ship to study ocean ecology.  Sixth-graders spend three days at an outdoor science school.  Grades seven and eight attend a three-day retreat that includes sunrise hikes and outdoor games.  Surf team participants learn the skills to surf and bodyboard; conditions of the ocean, for their safety; and stewardship of the ocean.  St. James recently received a grant for the installation of five dual 240-volt electric vehicle charging stations, one of which is accessible. 

Holland Brook School river

Holland Brook School students visit the nearby river to learn about the interconnectedness of ecosystems by analyzing the surrounding environment, water quality, and biodiversity of wildlife present.

Holland Brook School, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Working with the Schools for Energy Efficiency program, Holland Brook School (HBS) student leaders assess classrooms to see if students and staff are following energy conservation behaviors.  HBS purchases 21 percent renewable energy and generates 64 percent of its energy on-site with solar panels.  In the cafeteria, the use of reusable trays and composting of food waste greatly reduces solid waste.  “News Crew,” the student-run news show, incorporates sustainability features in its monthly programs.  Students have embraced a Chromebook 1:1 initiative and are enjoying using Google suites to receive, complete, and submit assignments electronically.  Student recess time has been doubled, and all teachers incorporate brain breaks.  The HBS outdoor classroom and rural location lends itself to nature walks, and HBS received river-friendly school certification.  

Resources and Opportunities

Climate Generation

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource: Climate Generation

Launched in 2015, with the generous collaboration of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, Green Strides is ED’s portal for sustainable school resources. The main feature of the site, the Green Strides sustainable resource library, features a comprehensive collection of national and state-specific green school programs, as well as tools and best-practice resources. One of these resources, Climate Generation, offers interdisciplinary solutions-based climate education programs for K–12 educators. This includes a suite of K–12 climate change curricula that support current standards used in schools across the nation. Climate Generation also hosts 75 educators annually at its Summer Institute for Climate Education, where they receive training and resources for teaching about climate change. Furthermore, Climate Generation provides an active year-round community that engages educators in lesson planning, book clubs, and education resource trainings. Its Youth Environmental Action program has several toolkits to support educators and youth in their efforts to increase awareness and action for climate change in their communities.


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, publicly available webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov. (Note: All times listed are ET.)

February 20, 2–3 p.m.  Student Projects on Campus to further Sustainability and Waste Management Programs (CURC)

February 20, 5–6 p.m.  NASA STEAM:  Exploring Ice and Snow with My NASA Data (NASA)

February 24, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Space Tech:  BEST Rover & Engineering Design (NASA)

February 25, 6–7 p.m.  Moon to Mars:  Mission, Resources, and Digital Badges Overview (NASA)

February 26, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

February 26, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Overview (NASA)

February 27, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Space Tech:  Engineering Design 101 (NASA)

March 3, 1–2:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

March 4, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

March 4, 5–8 p.m.  Empowering Young Water Scientists with the EarthEcho Water Challenge! (National Marine Sanctuaries)

March 9, 5–6 p.m.  Explore the Solar System:  Teaching Observations and Inferences with Geologic Images (NASA)

March 10, 1–2 p.m.  Verifying the ENERGY STAR® Application (EPA)

March 10, 2–3:30 p.m.  Creating Monarch Habitats for Schools and Communities (EPA)

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

March 11, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

March 11, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Overview (NASA)

March 12, 1–2 p.m.  Benchmarking Water & Wastewater Treatment Plants in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

March 12, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Solar System and Beyond:  Investigating Strange New Worlds (NASA)

March 17, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

March 18, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)



Green Schools Conference & Expo Just A Few Days Away

The 2020 Green Schools Conference & Expo (GSCE) will be held March 2–4, 2020 at Hilton Portland (Oregon) Downtown.  GSCE is the only national event to bring together all 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 and education.  Connect with the director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools while you're there during a Monday afternoon presentation or email andrea.falken@ed.gov to find a time to meet.  Representatives of past ED-GRS honorees should request a special green ribbon designation for their name tag at on-site registration.  

Northwest Farm 2 school display

National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held April 21–23, 2020, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event convenes stakeholders engaged in farm to cafeteria activities, who are working to source local food and promote a culture of food and agricultural literacy across the country.  Early bird registration pricing ends Feb. 28.

Circle Time Raintree School

2020 Nature-Based Early Learning Conference

The Natural Start Alliance’s annual conference is the nation’s largest professional event for teaching, administration, research, educator preparation, and advocacy in nature-based early learning. This year’s conference will take place July 29 – Aug. 1, 2020, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Attend the conference to take part in engaging presentations, experiential workshops, site tours, and professional networking with nature-based early childhood professionals from around the country and beyond. 

NAAEE Conference Slider

North American Association for Environmental Education Conference

For more than four decades, North American Association for Environmental Education 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 environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.  Mark your calendar for this conference taking place Oct. 13–17, in Tucson, Arizona.

No-idling snowman at Wellesley Public Schools

Students at Wellesley Public Schools, a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee in Massachusetts, remind drivers not to idle their engines.

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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