July Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the July 2020 Green Strides ...

In the News

Grace School at Meeting Street Learning on Boulders

Join Us For #EDGreenRibbon #CelebrationWeek2020

The in-person 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards (ED-GRS) Ceremony will be replaced with a Virtual Celebration Week, Aug. 2 through 8, consisting of several components:

  • Daily newsletters spotlighting 2020 honorees
  • Extensive all-week social media blitz on Facebook and Twitter
  • A compendium of honorees’ work
  • Informal virtual coffee chats for honorees

While we regret not being able to celebrate in person due to COVID-19, in addition to the virtual celebration, we will be mailing the 2020 honorees plaques recognizing them as a 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.   

Edison Elementary

Going for a 2021 Green Ribbon?

If your institution has not already been recognized, now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools application cycle by using resources and programs available on Green Strides. Read some common misconceptions about the award dispelled in a blog, and review frequently asked questions about all three award categories.  

For 2021 applications, interested colleges and universities may contact state higher education authorities, while preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and districts may contact state educational agencies. Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are eligible only if nominated by a state authority. State education authorities may contact ED-GRS for more information.  



Coronavirus Resources

The White House, ED, and other federal agencies are continually releasing and updating information to support schools, educators, families, and students regarding COVID-19. In addition to the links below, please visit https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus for the latest education-related information, and email questions for the Department to COVID-19@ed.gov.

Numerous resources for healthy, safe, sustainable schools: Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub

Gilbert Elementary Nature Kindergarten Fort in Georgia

Report: Outdoor preschools continue impressive growth across US

A report released the by the Natural Start Alliance documents the rapid expansion of nature preschools in the United States. The report follows up on a 2017 publication that estimated 275 programs in the United States. Three years later, that number has more than doubled to an estimated 585 programs, or a 25-fold increase over the past decade. The report, Nature-Based Preschools in the US: 2020 Snapshot, makes the case for nature in young children’s education, pointing to the many benefits ranging from improved academic performance to increased physical activity to stress relief. 

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

Get to know the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in our annual Highlights Report. Below, we spotlight just a few of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools district sustainability awardees and postsecondary sustainability awardees.

The Joseph Sears School

Joseph Sears School; Kenilworth, Illinois

The Joseph Sears School is a one-school district that serves preschool to eighth grade students. The school has added energy efficient boilers and cooling systems. Lights are replaced with LED bulbs; smart boards and screens are under centralized control for power; projectors turn off at the end of the day; 75% of rooms have light occupancy sensors; and emails go out to staff to remind them to turn off equipment when not in use. Most students — between 60% and 90% on any given day — walk, bike, or roll to school. The garden features composting bins, a peace pole, rain barrels, and organic beds, as well as a dedicated faculty coordinator. District policy mandates that natural resource conservation be taught across grade levels. This includes classes on ecology, endangered species, and the interconnectedness of species and the environment. A daily “mindful minute” allows students and teachers time for reflection. Outdoor recess regularly occurs whenever the temperature feels higher than zero degrees with wind chill.

Highland Elementary School Garden

Highland Elementary School; Lake Worth, Florida

Highland Elementary School (Highland) is a Title I school serving a student body that is 96% eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. The school’s principal invited bus drivers for a luncheon where air quality goals and procedures were explained. As a result, bus drivers now turn off engines while waiting for student dismissal. Highland has a temperature-controlled share table for students to select additional healthy snacks, such as fruits, salad, and milk, to supplement their lunch options, consume during snack time, and bring home. The Highland butterfly garden is full of native and naturalized flora that is a huge boon to the local pollinator population and learning—in spring, students observe native pollinators as well as unique bee species. Students visit MacArthur Beach State Park, Norton Sculpture Garden, and Grassy Waters Preserve to engage in additional outdoor learning.

Camden Hills Regional High School wind turbine and compost pile

Camden Hills Regional High School; Rockport, Maine

Camden Hills Regional High School (CHRHS) is in a rural location. The school’s student sustainability group led the effort to install a 100-kw wind turbine and a 159-kw solar array. It has a composting system that includes paper waste and horse manure, and the compost is sold at school fundraisers. The campus features gardens, an orchard, and an asparagus patch, all of which supply the cafeteria with produce. CHRHS’ outdoor classroom is heavily used by teachers while its nature trails are used by Nordic skiing, mountain biking, and cross-country teams. Over 77% of teachers incorporate sustainability education into courses. All freshmen global science courses cover climate science and sustainability. AP environmental science labs are designed around investigating the campus’ air and water quality. Honors English 9 students write climate fiction, and other available courses include horticulture, humans in the environment, advanced marine ecology, active citizenship, and Maine outdoor experience (a P.E. course featuring snowshoeing, sea kayaking, hiking, and camping).


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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov. (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

July 23, 12:30–1:30 p.m.  Energy Treasure Hunts During COVID-19 (EPA)

July 23, 1–2 p.m.  Engineering Challenge:  Mars Helicopter (NASA)

July 23, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars:  Human Factors - Our Brains (NASA)

July 27, 1–2 p.m.  Enhance STEM Learning for Bilingual/Bicultural Students (NASA)

July 27, 5–6 p.m.  NASA STEM at Home or at School: The Air We Breathe (NASA)

July 28, 1–2 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars:  Mass vs Weight (NASA)

July 28, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

July 28, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Flight: Smart Skies (NASA)

July 29, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  STEM Teaching Tips for Parents and Caregivers (NASA)

July 30, 1–2:30 p.m.  A Powerful New Tool for Climate Action Planning (Second Nature/Sustainable Endowments)

Aug. 3, 1–2 p.m.  Restoring College Sports Amid COVID-19:  Leveraging Climate Action (AASHE)

Aug. 4, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Explore Space Tech:  BEST Rover and the Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Aug. 5, 2–3:15 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

Aug. 5, 3–4 p.m.  Sustainability Education in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (AASHE)

Aug. 6, noon–1 p.m.  NASA Commercial Crew Program:  Mission and STEM Resources Update (NASA)

Aug. 6, 3–4 p.m.  Using Energy Data to Build a Culture of Sustainability on Campus (AASHE)

Aug. 10, 1–2 p.m.  NASA STEM for Home and School:  Water Quality Study (NASA)

Aug. 11, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Explore Space Tech:  Flying Green With Green Propellant Infusion Mission Using the Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Aug. 13, 6–7 p.m.  Understanding Ocean Acidification (National Marine Sanctuaries)

Aug. 18, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Explore Space Tech:  Build and Test a Solar Sail Using the Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Aug. 19, 2–3 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Aug. 19, 3–4 p.m.  Arrive as Intern, Depart Further on the Path to Sustainabilista (AASHE)

Aug. 20, 2–3 p.m.  Managing Surplus Property for Zero Waste (CURC)

Aug. 25, 1–2 p.m.  Explore Space Tech:  NASA Spinoff Technology (NASA)

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

Aug. 26, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Using a School-Community Partnership to Cut Greenhouse Gases (Green Teacher)


Schlitz Audubon Nature Students fort building

Online Early Learning Conference

The Natural Start Alliance Nature-Based Early Learning Conference will take place July 29–31 online. Attend the virtual conference for teaching, administrative, research, and educator preparation tips and advocacy for nature-based early learning.  Hear from three past ED-GRS honoree representatives, The Magnolia School at Camp McDowell (AL), The Raintree School (MO), and Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool (WI), as well as the ED-GRS director in a session entitled, "Earning Federal Recognition for Your Sustainable Early Learning," offered on July 30 at 11 a.m. ET.

Green wall Seattle Public Schools

EDspaces 2020

EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, dealers, pre-K–12 schools, colleges and universities, and independent manufacturer representatives, exhibitors, and corporations to learn about trends and experience the latest products and services in educational facilities. This year’s conference will be held Oct. 10–13 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Cape May City Schools

Online Environmental Education Annual Conference 

The 49th North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference will be held virtually Oct. 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 the dissemination of best practices. The focus of the 2020 Conference and Research Symposium is positive change. The conference will explore the ways in which environmental education informs and inspires, and how it builds human capacity, influences attitudes, and galvanizes actions to create healthier communities and a healthier environment for all. 

Kennesaw State Field Station

Online Higher Education Sustainability Conference

The 2020 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education will be held virtually Oct. 20–22. It is the largest stage in North America in which to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations, and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and the surrounding communities. 

Truckee Meadows Community College Solar

Association for Learning Environments LearningSCAPES 2020 

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. 28–Nov. 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Attend for groundbreaking educational sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future. 

Magnolia School Cow Milking

Children enrolled in Magnolia Nature School at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama, witness adults making a living by farming, working with wildlife, and other sustainable career choices.

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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