January 2021 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the January 2021 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

State Nominations for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Due by March 1

State education authorities can submit school, district, and postsecondary institution nominees for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) between now and March 1.  ED will announce the 2021 selectees on Earth Day.  Public health conditions permitting, honored schools will be invited to send up to five representatives to a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the fall. 

For those that have not already been honored (this is a one-time award), now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2022 application cycle by using resources and programs on Green Strides and contacting your state education authority.  For future cycles, interested colleges and universities should contact their state higher education authorities, while schools and districts should contact their state education agencies.  Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions are only eligible if nominated by state authorities.  State education authorities can find award criteria and other state implementation guidance on the ED website and should contact U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for more information.  

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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov 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


Green Schools Conference and Expo

Register to Attend Green Schools Summits in February

Throughout the month of February 2021, the Center for Green Schools and the Green Schools National Network will offer four summits specifically designed for four professional roles.  Then, in mid-June, a three-day virtual Green Schools Conference will offer attendees opportunities to hear diverse perspectives and dive deeper into the topics that were most in demand at the summits. 

School Leaders | Thursday, Feb. 4–Friday, Feb.5

Join school and district leaders from around the globe to share strategies for providing leadership toward greener, healthier, and more inspiring schools that engage students in meaningful experiences that drive achievement.  Learn more and register.

Educators | Friday, Feb. 12–Saturday, Feb. 13

Connect with classroom educators to share practical steps for integrating sustainability education into classroom content and daily practice, as well as engaging students in learning and in making positive change in their communities.  Learn more and register.

Building Industry Professionals | Thursday, Feb. 18–Friday, Feb. 19

Dive deeper into the future of green schools through an engaging dialogue about how design should effectively respond to and enable sustainability education and how building industry professionals can help schools fulfill the promise of greener schools.  Learn more and register.

Facilities and Sustainability Leaders | Thursday, Feb. 25–Friday, Feb. 26

Share best practices for creating and maintaining learning environments that are healthier for students, teachers, and the planet while gaining strategies to connect your work to the classroom.  Learn more and register.

Resources and Opportunities

Children and Nature Network Logo

Spotlight on a Green Strides Resource: Children & Nature Network

Launched in 2015, thanks to generous support from the Center for Green Schools, the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub includes resources from federal and state agencies, as well as the nonprofit private sector. 

This year more than ever, city leaders, educators, and parents understand the importance of getting kids - and adults - outdoors in nature.  Green schoolyards provide many proven benefits including enhancing academic achievement for students, improving community health and wellness, increasing 10-minute walk access to a park, and supporting local resilience. 

The Children & Nature Network and the National League of Cities offer teams from cities and school districts an opportunity to transform asphalt schoolyards into safe, nature-filled outdoor spaces that benefit students, the community and the local environment.  Applications are due by Jan. 29, and participation in a half-day workshop on Feb. 17 is required.

Paper making demonstration with children at Magnolia School in Alabama

Present at the 2021 Nature-Based Early Learning Virtual Conference

Join presenters from around the world at the Nature-Based Early Learning Conference, taking place virtually from July 26-30.  The deadline for presentation proposal submissions is Feb. 5.  The Natural Start Alliance’s annual Nature-Based Early Learning Conference brings together hundreds of new and seasoned nature-based early childhood education professionals from the U.S. and abroad.  Sessions explore how to plan, implement, and advocate for nature-based early learning programs; report on new and relevant research; share best practices in teacher education; explore education policy; and examine other topics that advance the field of nature-based early learning. 


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. 

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

This spring, we'll be announcing the 2021 honorees.  In every Green Strides edition until then, continue to learn from the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.  View the honorees and read about their work on the Green Strides website and on the ED awards page.  Three of the honorees are spotlighted below.  

school of engineering and arts biomonitoring

School of Engineering and Arts; Golden Valley, Minnesota

School of Engineering and Arts (SEA) food service feeds produce waste to on-site animals.  SEA has worked to reestablish native plants, orchards, and gardens and does not use irrigation.  A portion of the SEA schoolyard is devoted to the state Department of Natural Resource’s School Forest program, where students learn sustainable forest management practices.  SEA partners with Hennepin County Forestry to manage a 30-fruit tree orchard on school grounds.  Students learn from environmental professionals and attend field trips to wetlands and national parks.  They help to raise, observe, and collect data from on-site animals, including chickens, tortoises, reptiles, a tarantula, and many fish, including approximately 300 rainbow trout.

Rappahannock water sampling

Rappahannock County Public Schools; Washington, Virginia

Rappahannock County Public Schools have composting bins and a food-sharing table.  The high school uses rain-harvesting cisterns to collect and water plants in the greenhouse and school gardens.  All students are provided vouchers to purchase from the local farmer’s market.  A sensory pathway has been installed in the elementary school.  In the high school, a Neuronasium, with pedal desks, standing desks, glider desks, balance desks, swivel desks, and wobble stools, has been built.  A new courtyard at the elementary school houses raised beds, a pond with a waterfall, composting bins, a kiln, a greenhouse, and a labyrinth.

Montessori Children's House nature preserve

Montessori Children’s House; Redmond, Washington

Montessori Children's House is home to a wetland, which provides not only beautiful scenery and homes to diverse wildlife, but also a unique opportunity for students to learn.  Every classroom has a compost, recycle, and garbage bin.  Garden and animal waste is composted on site.  The school has an extensive organic-based garden program where students learn where food comes from and sample the garden’s produce.  The kindergarteners participate in Nature Club each week.  Upper elementary grades spend four days at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island, where they are immersed in a sustainably focused 280-acre park and learning center.


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinars Continue Through Winter

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 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 ed.green.ribbon.schools@ed.gov. (Note: All times listed are ET.)

Jan. 20, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Jan. 20, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  STEM Teaching Tips for Teachers (NASA)

Jan. 20, 6–7 p.m.  A Peek into NASA Ames Research Center (NASA)

Jan. 21, 6–7 p.m.  NASA STEM at Home and School: Moon to Mars Exploring the Rock Cycle (NASA)

Jan. 21, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  STEM Teaching Tips for Parents and Caregivers (NASA)

Jan. 21, 9–10:30 p.m.  How Understanding Biological Design Will Save the Oceans and Ourselves (National Marine Sanctuaries)

Jan. 25, 9–10 a.m.  Explore: Our Earth, the Moon, and the Sun (NASA)

Jan. 25, 1–2 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars: Artemis Program Overview (NASA)

Jan. 25, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  Explore Space Tech: How Will We Know if We’re Alone? (NASA)

Jan. 25, 6–7 p.m.  NASA STEM at Home and School: Biomimicry, Design a Robotic Insect (NASA)

Jan. 25, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Explore: Our Earth, the Moon, and the Sun (NASA)

Jan. 26, 1–2 p.m.  Part 1: A Beginner’s Guide to Using Portfolio Manager for Benchmarking Law Compliance (EPA)

Jan. 26, 6–7 p.m.  Aeronaut-X: Shape Your Flight (NASA)

Jan. 26, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Explore Space Tech: Making it Culturally Relevant (NASA)

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

Jan. 27, 1–2 p.m.  Explore Space Tech: ECLSS, Water Filtration and the Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Jan. 27, 2–3 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Jan. 27, 3–4 p.m.  Reducing Dining Emissions: An Analysis of Beef and Milk Substitutions (AASHE)

Jan. 27, 4:30–5:30 p.m.  New Year, New Resources from My NASA Data to Support Today’s APES Classroom (NASA)

Jan. 27, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars: The Artemis Mission and Teaching Science and Engineering Practices with The Gateway (NASA)

Jan. 28, 3–4 p.m.  How to Track Waste and Materials in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

Jan. 28, 6–7 p.m.  Celebrating ISS Science: NASA Cloud-Aerosol Transport System & Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (NASA)

Jan. 28, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Explore Space Tech: Braking Without Breaking (NASA)

Feb. 1, 1–2 p.m.  STEM Teaching Tips for Parents and Caregivers (NASA)

Feb. 1, 6–7 p.m.  Highlighting Scientific and Technological Contributions from Historically Underrepresented STEM Professionals at NASA (NASA)

Feb. 2, 6–7 p.m.  Explore Moon to Mars: ECLSS, Water Filtration & the Engineering Design Process (NASA)

Feb. 2, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Aeronaut-X: X-Plane Glider Challenge (NASA)

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

Feb. 3, 3–4 p.m.  Intersectional Sustainability and Student Activism (AASHE)

Feb. 3, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  The Plastic Problem and What We Can Do About It (Green Teacher)

Feb. 8, 6–7 p.m.  Exploration of STEM Careers and Career Pathways at NASA (NASA)

Feb. 9, 2–3 p.m.  Hanalei Ahupuaˈa (Watershed) Management in Contemporary Times (National Marine Sanctuaries)

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

Feb. 10, 3–4 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

Feb. 10, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Flooding: Preparing to Protect Your School (Green Teacher)

Feb. 11, 6–7 p.m.  Explore NASA Rocketry! (NASA)

Feb. 15, 6–7 p.m.  Diversifying STEM Workforce: NASA STEM-Related Mission Resources that Celebrate Diversity (NASA)

Feb. 16, 1–2 p.m.  Setting Performance Goals in Portfolio Manager (EPA)

Feb. 16, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Meet: Perseverance! (Mars Rover) #CountdownToMars (NASA)

Feb. 17, 12–1 p.m.  Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Feb. 17, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Empowering Youth Voices on Climate Change Policy (Green Teacher)

Feb. 18, 3–4 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Feb. 18, 7–8:30 p.m.  Opportunities, Barriers, Strategies Towards Inclusion (Green Teacher)

Mesa Elementary Snow Shoe EDGRS 2014 winner

At Mesa Elementary School, a 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in the Montezuma-Cortez School District of Colorado, students routinely visit Crow Canyon and Mesa Verde recreation areas to hike, explore, and extend their classroom lessons of anthropology, archeology, and conservation.

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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