April 2020 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the April 2020 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Are Here!

On April 22nd, the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Across the country, 39 schools, 11 districts, and five postsecondary institutions are honored for their innovative efforts to address the three “Pillars” of the program: reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness, and ensuring effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 27 states. The selectees include 28 public schools--among them, three magnet schools and four charter schools--as well as 11 nonpublic schools. Eight of the honorees are rural and forty-five percent of the 2020 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

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. 

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 implementation guidance on ED's website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

Resources and Opportunities


Healthy Indoor Environments During COVID-19 Pandemic

You can find updated information and guidance from the Federal government at Coronavirus.gov, CDC.gov/coronavirus, and USA.gov/coronavirus.


CDC Guidance

Please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most recent updates related to COVID-19 and schools:


Indoor Air Quality Management Plan

Whether your school is open or closed, indoor air quality is an important part of maintaining a healthy indoor environment in schools. Employ the actions and strategies in the IAQ Tools for Schools and IAQ Tools for Schools Preventive Maintenance documents, action plans, and checklists. In these documents you’ll find tips on routine maintenance and communications.


EPA Guidance

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) latest guidance and frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19, including topics such as disinfectant products and indoor air concerns, can be found on the EPA coronavirus website.


Train and Educate Staff Members

Watch the IAQ Tools for Schools Webinars. These webinars provide school district staff with the knowledge needed to start, improve or sustain an IAQ management program within their school or school district. View the web-based trainings, including the Master Class webinars and Knowledge-to-Action webinars.


Children's Healthy Learning Environments Grant Seeks Applications

The EPA is seeking grant applications from states, federally recognized tribes, universities, local governments, non-profits, and other groups to support children’s environmental health in school and childcare settings. These grants advance children’s environmental health by providing education, training, tools, and capacity building. EPA anticipates awarding two grants of approximately $145,000 each for up to a two-year funding period. Applications are due by June 1, 2020. 


Green Strides Design

Connect to the Green Strides Webinar Series from Home

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. 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.)

April 27, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resource Overview (NASA)

April 28, 6–7 p.m.  Moon to Mars:  Overview, Crew Transportation with Orion, and Digital Educator Badge (NASA)

April 29, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

April 29, 2–3 p.m.  Discovering Energy Savings with Treasure Hunts (EPA)

April 29, 2–3 p.m.  Small Steps to Giant Leaps:  3, 2, 1 . . . Takeoff (NASA)

April 29, 3–4:20 p.m.  Community Engagement in the Transition to Carbon Neutrality (AASHE)

April 29, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Earth:  Mission Geography K-5 (NASA)

April 29, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Connecting STEM to Indigenous Science (Green Teacher)

April 30, 12–1 p.m.  Deep Dive into Digital Learning with NASA Content Integrated into the STEM Curriculum (NASA)

April 30, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Earth:  Mission Geography 6-12 (NASA)

May 6, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

May 6, 2–3:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

May 6, 3–4 p.m.  Economics for Sustainability Studies:  Pathways for Economic Change (AASHE)

May 7, 5–6 p.m.  Kites and Balloons for Elementary Students at School or at Home (NASA)

May 11, 4–5 p.m.  Preparing Students for Green Careers (Green Schools National Network)

May 13, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

May 13, 2–3 p.m. Walking and Walkability in the Time of Covid-19 (America Walks)

May 13, 2–3 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

May 13, 3–4 p.m.  Staff Engagement:  Embedding Sustainability into Campus Culture and Operations (AASHE)

May 13, 6–7 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Overview (NASA)

May 14, 3–4 p.m.  COVID-19 & Sustainability Discussion:  Recap & Reflection (AASHE)

May 14, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Flight:  Flying with STEM in Your Classroom (NASA)

May 19, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

May 19, 3–4 p.m.  Using ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Design and Operations (EPA)

May 20, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

May 20, 3–4 p.m.  No Budget?  No Mandate?  No Problem!  Sustainability from the Inside Out  (AASHE)

May 20, 5–6 p.m.  Explore Flight:  NASA Gliders for Parents and Teachers (NASA)

Meet the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Meet the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Throughout the year, we’ll highlight just a few honorees’ practices in every newsletter.

Anderson M. Clark Magnet School Student takes selfie with starfish.

Students at Clark Magnet High School have used the school’s robotic underwater remotely operated vehicle and sonar equipment while taking samples of marine life and photographing marine plant growth on the ocean floor.

Anderson W. Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta, California

Anderson W. Clark Magnet High School implements project-based learning through solving real-world problems with a hands-on, practical approach. Clark Magnet is a leader in teaching environmental science research and Geographic Information Systems with the creation of the Environmental and Spatial Technology Program in 2003. Students at Clark Magnet pursue their passions and interests through a senior project. In recent years, a student designed a hydroponics system and had it on display at the school. Another student focused on agriculture and designed a microclimate in a Plexiglas ecosystem. Yet another student researched, bred, and worked with several jellyfish species. On-site, students conducted a water survey of the campus, including the placement of water spigots and irrigation systems. Clark Magnet received ENERGY STAR certification in 2010 with a score of 94. Bike Club members invest approximately 100 hours outside of school during afternoons and on weekends working out and competing in regional cycling competitions. On an annual “Walk to School Day,” a team of Clark Magnet student leaders assists the nearby elementary school. Students in Clark Magnet’s Environmental Club led the establishment of a rose garden and have planted California native plants that support pollinators and are drought tolerant. To reduce waste, Clark Magnet implemented a trade-in program for P.E. clothes and combination locks. 

Fifth graders at Lincoln Heights Environmental Magnet School conduct soil testing

A group of Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School fifth-graders conduct soil tests on a field trip to a local environmental education center.

Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School, Raleigh, North Carolina

In 2018, Lincoln Heights Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School completed a building renovation in which it integrated best practices for reducing energy costs and increasing water efficiency and for reducing stormwater runoff. The school has reduced domestic water use by 61 percent and energy use by 29 percent over 10 years. Recycling encompasses comingled materials, Crayola Colorcycle, Terracycle, and batteries. Art classes use recycled materials. Free breakfast is available for all students every day. Three tower gardens in the building and raised gardens allow students to grow produce. The entire staff has completed Project Learning Tree and Problem Based Learning training and participates in yearlong Using the Outdoors to Teach Experiential Science activities in partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The Environmental Connections Integration Specialist focuses on curricular integration, grants, scheduling professional development, guest speakers, and field trips. Expeditions are 30-minute clubs at the end of each day to allow students to further investigate environmental theme-related topics of their choice, with offerings changing each quarter. Teachers use the outdoors for all subjects, not just in science. Science proficiency has jumped from 52 percent to 76 percent.

School district of Bayfield students reseed rice

Bayfield High School Alternative Education students worked with Red Cliff tribal members in an effort to place manoomin (wild rice) seed in the Raspberry River, a Lake Superior tributary.

School District of Bayfield, Bayfield, Wisconsin

On any given day, it would be typical to find School District of Bayfield students in the school forest, on tribal forested land, within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, or in some other local natural green space.  Each year, Bayfield High School students operate a maple sugar bush project on school grounds and within the surrounding neighborhoods. A rain barrel catches runoff from the garden shed. The garden manager, school staff, and students designed and developed swales and berms to collect rainwater. Annually, students learn about alternative transportation and build an electric vehicle to participate in the Wisconsin Electrathon competition. The Bayfield community garden includes a high tunnel to extend the growing season and garden plots for each elementary classroom to tend. With the help of an Americorps Farm-to-School Specialist and the University of Wisconsin-Extension FoodWise Program, Bayfield Elementary K–5 classes receive nutrition and gardening lessons throughout the school year. Each year, middle school and high school teachers develop weeklong courses focused on local environmental topics and environmental literacy. Bayfield has installed LED lighting and water bottle filling stations. Lighting for the student and staff parking lot operates on solar energy. The school-owned community recreation center and swimming facility has rooftop solar panels.


Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

May Is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from at least one type of allergy. AAFA offers tools to bring healthy messages to work, school, and home. 

Endangered species day

Endangered Species Day is May 15

Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions they can take to help protect them. Due to the global coronavirus crisis, Endangered Species Day 2020 will be celebrated through online events, digital actions, and individual activities, including storytime, a "What's in My Backyard?" species identification challenge, and a screening of Racing Extinction.

Better Buildings Logo

U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Summit Is June 8–11

This year's virtual summit will feature four days of timely, free webinars and peer exchanges with fellow industry stakeholders and experts.  The summit 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.  

NAAEE Conference Slider

Save the Date for North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference 

The 49th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held in Tucson, Arizona, from October 14–17.  For more than four decades, NAAEE has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals. The conference is 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

Kennesaw State University field station

Students work at the 25-acre site that is the Kennesaw State University Field Station. KSU is a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee.

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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