March 2020 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the March 2020 Green Strides...

Resources and Opportunities

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Available

Over the last few weeks, the White House, the Department of Education, and other federal agencies have released guidance to support schools, educators, and families regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). For updated information, please visit,, and

For education-related information, the Department has established a dedicated Coronavirus webpage (, which includes resources for institutions of higher education and for K-12, such as:

  • guidance for students at institutions of higher education; 
  • a letter from the Office for Civil Rights that addresses potential related discrimination;
  • information regarding flexibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act, or “ESSA;”
  • information regarding services to children with disabilities;
  • a fact sheet from the Office for Civil Rights on the risk of Coronavirus in schools while protecting the civil rights of students; and a short webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility;
  • information on the Family Education Records Privacy Act, or “FERPA,” as it pertains to K-12 and higher education students; and
  • information for Accrediting Agencies Regarding Temporary Flexibilities Provided to Coronavirus Impacted Institutions or Accrediting Agencies.

Please direct education related questions to

15 days to slow the spread

Free Online Teaching and Learning Resources Available 

During this global pandemic, many people are working from home and trying to keep school-age children learning. Here are a few online resources for environmental and sustainability learning: 


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 1,600 sessions that provide free tools to reduce schools' environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and teach effective environmental education.   (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

March 26, 12–1 p.m.  College STEM Students Utilize Mobile Apps & Digital Badges to Familiarize and Prepare Themselves for Opportunities with NASA (NASA)

March 26, 12–1 p.m.  NASA STARS en Español (NASA)

March 26, 1–2 p.m.  Webinar Series for School Custodial Teams:  COVID-19 School Response and Operationalizing CDC Guidelines (Healthy Green Schools & Colleges)

March 26, 6–7 p.m.  Modeling the Solar System with STEAM (NASA)

March 26, 6–7 p.m.  Ocean Guardian Schools (National Marine Sanctuaries)

March 28, 11 a.m.–12 p.m.  Virtual Sustainability Tour (University of New Hampshire)

March 28, 9:30–10:30 p.m.  Intro to STEM Technologies:  Session 2:  Robotics (NASA)

March 30, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resource Overview (NASA)

March 31, 3:30–4:30 p.m.  How do you Rethink Outside? (Children & Nature Network)

March 31, 6–7 p.m.  CCRI (Climate Change Research Initiative) - Wetlands (NASA)

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

April 1, 3–4 p.m.  Equipping Students to Launch Green Teams at Work (AASHE)

April 1, 6–7 p.m.  Moon to Mars:  Mission, Resources, and Digital Badges Overview (NASA)

April 1, 7–8 p.m.  Our Climate Our Future (Alliance for Climate Education)

April 1, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  The Art and Science of Teaching Climate Change (Green Teacher)

April 2, 5–6 p.m.  Celebrate Earth Day with NASA STEM Activities (NASA)

April 6, 6–7 p.m.  Small Steps to Giant Leaps (NASA)

April 8, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

April 8, 2–3:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

April 8, 3–4 p.m.  Creating a Sustainable and Engaging Food Waste Recycling Program (AASHE)

April 8, 6–7 p.m.  Automated Reconfigurable Mission Adaptive Digital Assembly Systems Project (NASA)

April 8, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  The Joy of Garden-based Education (Green Teacher)

April 14, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

April 15, 2–2:45 p.m.  Streamline Portfolio Manager Data Entry with Web Services (EPA)

April 15, 3–4 p.m.  Reuse in Action: Repair Fairs (AASHE)

April 15, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Overview (NASA)

April 16, 1–2 p.m.  April Afterschool Meals Matter (Food Research & Action Center)

April 16, 2–3 p.m.  Plastic Policy:  Innovations on Water Bottle Bills, Bans and Behavior Change (CURC)

April 16, 6–7 p.m.  Investigating Our Earth from Space (NASA)

North Face Explore Fund

Apply for a North Face Explore Fund Grant by April 8

The North Face Explore Fund provides grants to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations that offer their participants meaningful outdoor experiences. Specifically, the fund seeks to support experiences that instill an enduring appreciation of the outdoors, promote positive personal or societal change, and/or demonstrate environmental stewardship principles and practices. 


National Healthy Schools Day Logo

National Healthy Schools Day Is April 7

National Healthy Schools Day is coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, in partnership with many agencies and organizations. It promotes the use of the Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit as well as other EPA environmental health guidelines and programs for schools and children’s health.  Since 2002, parents, teachers, school nurses, custodians, advocates, and agencies have promoted National Healthy Schools Day activities nationwide.  Whether you are at the beginning stages of investigating school environments or have an established indoor air/environmental quality program, you are invited to host a local activity that educates others and celebrates your school’s successes.

NEEF logo

National Environmental Education Week Is April 20–24

National Environmental Education Week is held each spring around the time of Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K–12 students.  Find educator resources, FAQs, and a greening STEM hub

Better Buildings Logo

U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings' Summit is June 810 

The U.S. Department of Energy's annual Better Buildings Summit will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.  It provides the opportunity for professionals to explore emerging technologies and share innovative strategies in energy and water efficiency. Attendees can expect two days of interactive sessions with industry experts and market leaders as well as many opportunities to network with peers. 

In the News

Elizabeth Schmitz

ED-GRS Announces 2020 Director’s Award Recipient

ED has selected Elizabeth Schmitz, environmental and sustainability education program supervisor at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington, and previously of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council. Schmitz hosted the Green Strides Tour in Kentucky in 2014 and in Washington in 2019. She has spearheaded outreach to underserved school populations to advance education equity and worked to streamline her state applications. She participated in numerous conferences promoting the award and environmental education, including the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Green Schools Conference and Expo. Finally, she has engaged stakeholders from peer state agencies and non- and for- profit, private sectors in order to share sustainable best practices, select U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) nominees, and celebrate honored institutions. Schmitz will be honored, alongside schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions this summer.

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Coming Soon!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a public engagement initiative structured as a federal recognition award for school sustainability.  It helps to facilitate state and local collaboration regarding school facilities, health, and environmental education. By highlighting schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions’ cost-saving, health promoting, and performance-enhancing sustainability practices, ED-GRS celebrates these schools and brings more attention to their work. 

Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions do not apply to ED for this award but to their state K–12 or postsecondary education authorities.  ED is currently reviewing the 2020 nominees and will be announcing the honorees on the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, this April 22nd.  The schools are invited to a summer ceremony in Washington, D.C. where they receive a sustainable plaque; are the subject of media attention; and feel their efforts celebrated. Other schools, in turn, learn about and adopt their practices.

For those schools that have not already received the award, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021 application cycle by using the resources and programs on Green Strides and by contacting your state education authority.  Review Frequently Asked Questions for all three award categories.  Interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact state education agencies.  State education authorities can find award criteria and other state implementation guidance on ED's website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

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

In a few weeks, we'll be announcing the 2020 ED-GRS cohort.  Until then, 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 Green Strides’ website and on ED’s awards page. Three of the honorees are spotlighted below.    

Eagle Rock green schoolyard

Partnering with a professor at Occidental College, Eagle Rock Elementary School took surface infrared temperature measurements before and after its green schoolyard renovation to quantify the reduction in heat island effect, allowing for increased physical activity.

Eagle Rock Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Eagle Rock Elementary School’s (ERE’s) renovations removed almost 24,000 square feet of asphalt and replaced it with a permeable surface, bioswales, native plants, and no-mow, clumping grass.  Green space was increased by more than 30,000 square feet.  Where asphalt remained, ERE covered it with reflective paint.  Kids develop gross motor skills by balancing on the school’s strategically placed wood structures, logs, and stumps. A garden program is directly integrated into the curriculum and state standards, serving over 30 classrooms that attend garden classes twice weekly.  ERE wrote environmental literacy requirements in nine areas, including Earth’s systems, the environment, and human impact.  The after-school green club extends many of the sustainability concepts learned in class to the school green grounds.  Students take field trips to the Sepulveda Basin Environmental Education Program and the Catalina Island Marine Institute, where they participate in hands-on experiential science using state-of-the-art equipment.  

Interlochen Arts Academy students collect native seeds

Interlochen Arts Academy students collect native seeds. IAA’s garden and greenhouse consist of a 20’x40’ hoop house, nine raised beds, a permaculture scape, a 20’x40’ greenhouse, and an aquaponics system.

Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Michigan

Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA) has a sustainability coordinator to monitor, document, and manage energy consumption on the campus. IAA’s greenhouse is powered with solar panels and heated with geothermal flooring.  Students in the agricultural science class meet in the greenhouse and learn about the importance of sustainable farming practices.  They also learn about composting, tilling, soil conservation, water quality, organic principles for growing sustainable crops, beekeeping, and pollination. IAA recently installed an on-site composting system. The garden supplies food for students and staff in the school cafeteria. In ecology class, students explore streambeds and research macro- and micro-vertebrates, raise salmon in the classroom, and study wetlands and native habitat restoration, and freshwater aquatics. The art and ecology class creates an art installment in the woods as a feature of a natural restoration.  

Dutch Fork Elementary School outdoor learning

Dutch Fork Elementary School’s curriculum aligns with state standards by grade level, following a themed continuum entitled “from the mountains to the sea” that explores the South Carolina landscape within a global context.

Dutch Fork Elementary School, Irmo, South Carolina

Dutch Fork Elementary School (DFES) teachers attend training each fall with Trout Unlimited in order to oversee their Trout in the Classroom programming.  DFES started a pollinator garden, monarch waystation, and beehive to deepen the curricula for each grade.  The school initiated a food waste and compost program to divert waste from landfills, which it tracks monthly.  DFES participates in South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Breathe Better program, giving students the opportunity to audit vehicles in order to employ anti‐idling policies.  DFES offers Healthy Hands Cooking classes that expose students to fresh cooking methods using the garden produce that they have grown, and allow them to teach their family and peers. 

Highcroft Ridge students plant trees.

Highcroft Ridge, a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in Chesterfield, Missouri, has raised garden bed irrigated with rain barrel. Classes use the wooded area in the back of the school for nature walks integrated with curriculum.

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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