December 2020 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the December 2020 Green Strides...

In the News

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States' Deadlines for Green Schools Applicants Fast Approaching!

Many states' application periods for 2020–21 cycle nominees to U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) will be closing around the holidays. (These deadlines vary by state.) State education agencies often collaborate with other state agencies and partners to administer the program and will ultimately nominate their selections to the ED by March 1, 2021 (an extension from the usual February deadline).

Check to see if your state participates in ED-GRS by locating your state recognition award administrator. Alternatively, you can contact your chief state school officer or state higher education executive officer. Often, hearing from interested schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions helps states determine whether to participate in the program. 

John Olson Director's Award Recipient

The 2021 ED-Green Ribbon Schools Director’s Award: Nominations Due March 1

The ED-GRS Director’s Award recognizes state education authorities’ exemplary efforts to administer 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 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


Honoring Classified School Employees

ED received 32 nominations from 20 states for the inaugural Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award to honor and promote education support professionals who provide exemplary service, including school nutrition, maintenance, paraprofessional, security, and transportation employees. The federal review is now underway, with peer reviewers completing two rounds to select semifinalists who will be submitted to the Secretary of Education for a final selection. By the spring, ED will announce a single national honoree and encourage all states to recognize their nominees in order to inspire excellence and innovative practices among classified school employees. More information is available online. Governors’ offices may contact with any questions. The 2021 deadline for nominations will again be Nov. 1.

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

Congratulations to the 2020 ED-GRS 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.  

McDill Elementary Wisconsin plants a butterfly garden

McDill Elementary School; Stevens Point, Wisconsin

The McDill Elementary School campus is home to a community garden, where plots are rented to community members, as well as a five-acre school forest with trails and two outdoor classrooms. McDill upgraded lighting, installed water-saving equipment, and reduced its transportation footprint. The McDill community reduces waste by implementing milk carton and marker recycling programs. Teachers are provided with outdoor classroom packs to make it easy to take learning outside, and students are taught about aquatic ecosystems. Each year, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Environmental Education students visit classes at McDill and teach lessons on subjects ranging from wildlife to water to insects.

cape romain environmental charter school oil boom

Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School; McClellanville, South Carolina

Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School is located on a tidal creek that connects to the intracoastal waterway. The school teaches agricultural education, animal husbandry, responsibility, and compassion for all creatures, including its on-site chickens, goats, pigs, and sheep. The school is home to a registered Monarch butterfly waystation, pollinator garden, and rain garden, and manages an active honeybee hive. Students collect and sort recycling every Friday, compost food waste, and attend environmental education class at least twice a week. The school participated in the Breathe Better program to reduce vehicle idling on campus.

Students in woodlands exploring Cape May Elementary

Cape May City Elementary School; Cape May City, New Jersey

Cape May City Elementary School is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Its students participate in weekly swimming instruction, an annual field day, a triathlon, and a fall walk-a-thon. Students also learn about the Atlantic coast horseshoe crab/shorebird phenomenon and participate in the Green Eggs and Sand U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program. Third-graders conduct energy, heat, light, and water surveys. Cape May City Elementary switched to LED lights in all areas, saving $3,000 a year. The school is home to a wind turbine and weather station, and water-saving drip line irrigation and a rain barrel provide water to vegetable gardens and native plant areas.

Resources and Opportunities

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Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource

Launched in 2015, thanks to generous support from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub includes resources from federal and state agencies, as well as the nonprofit private sector. The National Council on School Facilities supports states in delivering safe, healthy, and educationally appropriate public school facilities that are sustainable and fiscally sound. Among their resources is a school reopening playbook, which includes a detailed list of over 100 tasks, organized by school public health objectives, that can be modified for individual state, district, or school use. 


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Calls for Applications From Students, Educators, and Schools

The application period is now open for the 2021 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program and the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). The PEYA program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K–12 youth, promoting awareness of our nation's natural resources and encouraging positive community involvement. The PIAEE recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for student learning. Applications for both programs are due Feb.19, 2021. 


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues Through Winter


The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted nearly 2,000 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 (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Dec. 14, 5–6 p.m.  NASA STEM at Home and School: Outdoor Snow Exploration (NASA)

Dec. 14, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  X-Plane Glider Challenge (NASA)

Dec. 15, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Explore Humans in Space: Mass vs Weight on the International Space Station (NASA)

Dec. 15, 6–7 p.m.  NASA’s Best: Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Dec. 16, 1–2 p.m.  Explore Sound Effects in Aeronautics (NASA)

Dec. 16, 6–7 p.m.  Solar Student Leaders of Tomorrow Showcase (DOE)

Dec. 16, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Space Tech: Drag Devices (NASA)

Dec. 17, 2–3 p.m.  Zero Waste Marketing Your Program: Strategies for Giveaways (CURC)

Dec. 17, 6–7 p.m.  An Exploration of Models as STEM Learning Tools with the Orion Spacecraft (NASA)


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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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