May 2020 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the May 2020 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

Calling All Past U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools!

On April 22, 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. As we look to honor this year’s cohort, we hope to share messages (photos and/or written messages) from past honorees. These may include updates about what they have been doing since receipt of the award, as well as any lessons learned that they would like to share with this year’s honorees. Past honorees should send their messages to


Propose a Redesign for ED.GOV

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking proposals for the redesign of, the Department's website. The winning proposal(s) will incorporate accessible content for desktop, mobile, and tablet users; integrated social media, RSS feeds, and subscription services; an elegant, clean, user-centered look and feel; strong, consistent ED branding; new and innovative tools that enhance user experience; and engaging and easy-to-navigate pages. The Department of Education is offering a prize of up to $50,000. One or more highly-rated participants may be invited to present their redesign prototype to a panel of ED judges. Designers will also have the opportunity to compete for the concept implementation contract. Submissions are due by June 15, 2020.  Complete details on the challenge are published online. 

Resources and Opportunities


Coronavirus Resources

 The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies continue to update their COVID-19 information and resources web page with the most current information, and any questions for the Department may be directed to

Ted-ED logo

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource: Earth School

Initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and TED-ED, Earth School takes students on a 30-day “Adventure” through the natural world. The curated Earth School content features videos, reading materials and activities — translated into 10 languages — to help students gain an understanding of the environment while considering their role within it. 

Captain Planet Logo

Captain Planet Foundation eco Tech Grants Close July 15

ecoTech Grants are offered 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 needed to 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 our most pressing environmental challenges.  The grants are available as cash of up to $2,500 and support the purchase of materials and other project implementation expenses. 


Green Strides Design

Take Advantage of the Ongoing Green Strides Webinar Series 

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 1,700 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 26, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Explore Solar System and Beyond: Scale of Discovery (NASA)

May 26, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Crew Training and Flight Readiness/Simulations as Critical Preparation (NASA)

May 26, 6–7 p.m.  Moon to Mars: Overview, Habitation with Gateway, and Digital Badges (NASA)

May 27, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

May 27, 2–3 p.m.  Just Add WaterSense to Your Energy Efficiency Efforts (EPA)

May 27, 3–4:20 p.m.  Doing Good While Doing Your Job – Moving Toward a Circular Economy (AASHE)

May 27, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars: Designing the Mission (NASA)

May 28, 1–2 p.m.  NASA GLOBE Observer: Mosquito Habitats and Vector Borne Disease (NASA)

May 28, 1–2 p.m.  Strategies for Setting Effective Energy Performance Goals (EPA)

May 28, 3–4:15 p.m.  Centering Equity in Environmental Educations’s COVID Response (NAAEE)

May 28, 6–7 p.m.  Explore STEM with Hurricanes in Your Classroom (NASA)

June 1, 5–6 p.m.  NASA STEAM for Home and School: Our Very Own Star, The Sun (NASA)

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

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

June 3, 3–4 p.m.  Teaching Local Sustainability Online (AASHE)

June 4, 12–1 p.m.  Environmental Social Marketing for Measurable Change (NAAEE)

June 10, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 10, 1–2 p.m.  Boosting Teen Public Transit Use through Community Partnerships – 1st Session (Green Teacher)

June 10, 2–3 p.m.  Enhancing Walkable Spaces through Public Art (America Walks)

June 10, 3–4 p.m.  Connecting Food Security, Community, and Sustainability (AASHE)

June 10, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Boosting Teen Public Transit Use through Community Partnerships – 2nd Session (Green Teacher)

June 11, 1–2 p.m.  The Unseen World of Microbial Ecosystems (NASA)

June 11, 2–3 p.m.  The Future of Recreation (National Recreation and Park Association)

June 16, 6–7 p.m.  Exploring National Marine Sanctuaries:  Diving into Telepresence Education Programs (National Marine Sanctuaries)

June 17, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

June 18, 2–3 p.m.  Reaching Your Collaborators: Communicating for Connection and Education (CURC)

June 18, 5–6 p.m.  NASA STEM at Home or School: Using Gravity Assist to Launch a Crew Vehicle (NASA)

June 24, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

June 24, 3–4 p.m.  The Intersection of Safety and Sustainability (AASHE)

June 25, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

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 a few honorees’ practices in every newsletter.

Lincoln Ave Elementary River Explorers

Lincoln Avenue Elementary School; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Lincoln Avenue Elementary School is a bilingual community school serving 510 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Ninety-nine percent of students in this urban school are eligible for free and reduced price lunch, and more than 30% are English language learners. Lincoln Avenue underwent a transformation by prioritizing sustainability and linking environmental health to academic achievement. In just five years, the school and partner agency have worked to transform the outdoor spaces to include green infrastructure and interactive green spaces. Over the last four years, the curriculum for every grade level has been aligned to these outdoor spaces and enhanced with a close-by river restoration project. The school used Portfolio Manager in 2018 to calculate its energy score of 87. In 2017, students conducted a waste audit in the lunchroom and initiated a composting program. Lincoln removed asphalt from the school’s front and back playgrounds to install a student-designed 2,400-square-foot native prairie plants area, a pergola outdoor classroom, and rain catchment system with two 275-gallon cisterns, a bioswale, a 200-square-foot rain garden, and 10 8-foot x 4-foot raised garden beds, which are open to the community in the summer. A Farm to School Americorps volunteer works with lower elementary students to teach them about healthy foods and gardening. Lincoln benefits from a mental health clinic on-site. Biweekly after-school environmental education workshops are offered to students. Participants canoe, bike, hike, and fish. Since 2017, Lincoln students in grades 3–5 have visited the Menomonee Valley Urban Ecology Center two to three times each year.

Ocean View Elementary School Oyster Float Trip

Ocean View Elementary School; Norfolk, Virginia

Ocean View Elementary School (OVES) is a Title I school with 68% of students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch. Within walking distance to the Chesapeake Bay, it is a designated Maritime School. More than 20 years ago, OVES began oyster gardening with various community partners. The entire school participates in citizen science by monitoring, collecting data, and releasing oysters onto the Lynnhaven River Sanctuary. OVES has established a Maritime Ranger program for fifth-grade students who are interested in STEM. OVES is the recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association grant that will enable aquaculture in the maritime lab for 2020. The ENERGY STAR certified school building features abundant natural lighting, light-colored roofing materials, occupancy sensors, a highly insulated building envelope, and low-VOC and non-toxic materials that improve indoor air quality. The school building roof drains and parking areas are designed to treat, prevent, and reduce water pollution and runoff. Two new trees were planted for every tree that was removed, so that approximately 90 trees were planted. OVES has been partnering with TREX for many years to recycle plastic film. Norfolk Public Schools is among 16 school divisions throughout Virginia selected to receive electric school buses through a Dominion Energy program. Health and wellness offerings include partnering with the food bank for the last three years to feed needy families; free, locally grown fruits and vegetables to families who attend PTA nights; and a “Blender Bike” program. The school cleans used products that are biodegradable, nontoxic, and cold water activated.

Mickle Middle Garden Carrot Harvest

Mickle Middle School; Lincoln, Nebraska

Mickle Middle School’s journey began in 2010 with a nonprofit partner helping to establish and support a garden. It was accelerated when the school designated an official sustainability lead. Mickle has a 35 x 35-foot garden, which houses a variety of plants in approximately 1,225 square feet. The garden has 12 3 x 8-foot raised beds, where herbs, beans, lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, standard and sweet potatoes, peas, onions, peppers, and carrots are planted. There also is a 3 x 20-foot bed for tomatoes with a trellis and seven 3 x 3-foot raised beds with connecting trellises. Two areas are designated for Nebraska pollinator plants. Tables with seating serve as outdoor instructional space. Four drip irrigation systems were installed using 55-gallon rain barrels placed on raised stands. Students devised a recycling-in-a-backpack initiative, whereby all recycling, other than paper, is placed in a backpack, then sorted and recycled by students. They wrote and filmed an informational video about recycling for the building. Mickle also participates in Crayola ColorCycle, and garden waste throughout the school year is composted. In August 2018, Mickle signed on as one of only a handful of schools across the country to pilot the Arc for Schools platform. This platform is a building benchmarking tool that was previously only used for LEED building certification for Operations and Maintenance and was being tested as an educational resource for schools through the U.S. Green Building Council. Students from the Environmental Science class at the University of Nebraska develop environmentally sustainable projects to complete with Mickle students.


Great Outdoors Month Logo

Celebrate 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. Camp, hike, bike, walk, run—just keep state and local authorities’ guidelines in mind.

Green Apple Day of Service Logo

Plan a Green Apple Day of Service at Your School

As schools slowly resume classes, they will be in greater need of community support than ever. 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.  

Climate Generation

Stay-In-stitute for Climate Change Education is July 22-24

This three-day climate change education experience will take you beyond your computer screen and into your backyard and neighborhood to do authentic scientific and social data collection, move your body, and make observations of the world around you. Join a network of teachers from across the country dedicated to teaching climate change as an interdisciplinary issue. 

Online Early Learning Conference

The Natural Start Alliance Nature-Based Early Learning Conference will take place July 29–31 online. Attend a virtual conference for teaching, administration, research, educator preparation, and advocacy in nature-based early learning. 

Milking goat at MAgnolia nature school
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

Grace School Outdoor Music

Children engage with outdoor musical instruments at The Grace School at Meeting Street in Providence, Rhode Island, a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.

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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