January 2022 Green Strides Newsletter

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the January 2022 Green Strides...

In the News

Green Ribbon Schools Logo

State Nominations for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Due Feb. 18

State education authorities can submit early learning, school, district, and postsecondary institution nominees for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) between now and Feb. 18. ED will announce the 2022 selectees on Earth Day, April 22. Public health conditions permitting, honorees will be invited to send representatives to a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the summer. 

For those that have not already been honored (this is a one-time award), now is a great time to begin preparing for the 2023 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 educational agency. 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.  

Director's Award Recipient Joe DaSilva and Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten

2022 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


Schlitz Nature Preschool WI

Register for the 2022 Nature-Based Early Learning  Conference

Join attendees and presenters from around the world at the Nature-Based Early Learning Conference, taking place virtually and in Cincinnati, Ohio from July 27-30. The deadline for presentation proposal submissions is Feb. 4. 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. 

Resources and Opportunities

Redding School of the Arts Healthy School Environments

Healthy Indoor Environments in Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

This page from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contains links to resources and guidance from federal agencies about indoor air considerations for schools during COVID-19 and for school reopening, as well as Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools resources to help create, maintain, and improve healthy learning environments beyond the pandemic. Access this resource and many others on the Green Strides School Sustainability Resource Hub!

Francis Scott Key Elementary releasing shad fry

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

The application period is now open for the 2022 President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program and the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). Applications for both programs are due Feb.19. 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. PIAEE recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

Learn from the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

This spring, we will be announcing the 2022 honorees. In every Green Strides edition until then, continue to learn from the 2021 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.  

PS 90 climate change presentation

PS90 – The Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness; Brooklyn, New York

The Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness (PS90) focuses its instruction on the environmental sciences and climate change. PS90 has adopted a plant-based menu. A group called “Garden to Café” works with PS90 to incorporate school garden produce into school meals and snacks. Through a nutrition education program called CookShop, students and their parents learn how to properly nourish their minds and bodies. Through a partnership with Coalition for Healthy School Foods, PS90 offers family food nights. The school customizes science curricula so that every unit and every subject has a connection to climate change and human impact. Students analyze a real-world problem and develop solutions. Students deepen their learning by researching, collaborating, writing, analyzing, and presenting to an audience beyond their classroom, often at the school’s annual expo, to display their understanding of the effects of climate change. PS90 partners with Grow NYC to maintain three hydroponic gardens indoors, as well as a greenhouse and outdoor garden. PS90 formed a partnership with Whole Kids Foundation, The Bee Cause, and City Growers to install a beehive to aid in teaching about the importance of bees as pollinators. Through the One Billion Oyster Project, students go on field trips to PS90’s oyster reef in Sheepshead Bay. Students help with research and data collection.

Clement Avenue School Aerial view

Clement Avenue School; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Clement Avenue School (CAS) has installed efficient light and faucet fixtures, occupancy sensors, and computer power management systems and relies on natural daylighting whenever possible. CAS has begun working with a local company, Compost Crusader, to divert organic material from the landfill in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. The CAS redevelopment project can manage over 88,000 gallons of stormwater every time it rains. The school has removed approximately 22,000 square feet of asphalt and has replaced it with green space and a mixed-use recreation and educational space. A bike garden and annual unit on biking encourage safe routes to school. Each year the early childhood classrooms participate in a butterfly life cycle program. One early childhood classroom is home to an aquaponics setup. Older students help maintain the garden beds with the help of the school community. The second and third graders become Animal Ambassadors through a partnership with the Milwaukee County Zoo. Fifth grade students learn about the water cycle using the green space and cistern. In middle school, students plan community spaces in their design of cities. Staff members participate in the local green schools conference to learn and share about outdoor learning, school gardens, sustainability, and schoolyard redevelopment.

University of North Carolina Wilmington bike lending

University of North Carolina Wilmington; Wilmington, North Carolina

University of North Carolina – Wilmington (UNCW) began a campus-wide collaboration to create a Climate Resiliency and Action Plan to be researched, written, and edited by students. UNCW was the first university in the North Carolina system to reduce the campus’ energy use by 30%. UNCW has partnered with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to work on stormwater projects, funded by an EPA grant. Four rain gardens have been installed to manage over a million gallons of water a year. UNCW participates in Campus Race to Zero Waste and has hosted several zero-waste basketball games. UNCW diverts about 4,000 pounds of compostable material every month to a county composting facility. All of the fryer oil used in the dining halls is converted to biofuel. Bluethenthal Wildlife Preserve is a unique space located in the center of campus that provides just over a mile of trails. Solar-powered umbrellas in front of the library allow visitors to enjoy the outdoors while charging a phone. A 250-gallon aquaponics system is located in one dining hall. Campus dining utilizes the vegetables and herbs grown and students conduct investigations. The Green Initiative Fund is a student fee used to fund minigrants for research, programs, and initiatives that support environmental stewardship at UNCW and in the community. A Sustainability Minor was created to enrich any course of study with sustainability. In 2020, the Sustainability Learning Community was established for first-year students at UNCW.


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinars Continue through Winter

The Green Strides Webinar Series has promoted over 2,500 sessions that provide free tools to reduce a school's 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. 25, 5–6 p.m. Hazards to Deep Space Astronauts (NASA)

Jan. 26, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Jan. 26, 2–3 p.m. Using Data to Understand Trends & Make Smart Investments in Schools (Center for Green Schools)

Jan. 26, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Fostering Empathetic Design with the Sustainable Development Goals (Green Teacher)

Jan. 27, 3–4 p.m. From Environmental Education to Environmental Justice (NAAEE)

Jan. 27, 7–8 p.m. Deep Dive Series: Giving Science Its Rap (NAAEE)

Jan. 27, 7–8 p.m. Exploring Environmental Inquiry and Justice through the Arts (NAAEE)

Jan. 31, 6–7 p.m. Solar System Scroll and the Scale of Discovery (NASA)

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

Feb. 2, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Feb. 2, 3–4 p.m. An NGSS Approach to Teaching Biomimicry (NAAEE)

Feb. 2, 3–4 p.m. Using Collaborations to Highlight and Harness the Healing Power of Nature (AASHE)

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

Feb. 7, 6–7 p.m. Explore Flight: Flying with Bernoulli’s (NASA)

Feb. 9, 1–2:15 p.m. Community-Based Urban Forestry Efforts (USDA)

Feb. 9, 3–4 p.m. Community Engagement through Earth Day Celebrations (AASHE)

Feb. 9, 3–4 p.m. Leveraging Education Software to Teach NGSS Aligned Activities (NAAEE)

Feb. 10, 7–8 p.m. Learning Strategies for Environmental Education, Citizenship, and Sustainability (NAAEE)

Feb. 11, 2–2:45 p.m. School Building Science: Calming the School Environment (CHPS)

Feb. 16, 12–1 p.m. Portfolio Manager – Ask the Expert (EPA)

Feb. 16, 3–4 p.m. Food Waste and Insecurity on College Campuses (AASHE)

Feb. 16, 3–4 p.m. NGSS Cross-Cutting Concept: Structure & Function (NAAEE)

Feb. 17, 1–2 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Feb. 23, 3–4p.m. How to Better Incorporate NGSS into Informal Education Settings (NAAEE)

Feb. 24, 1–2:30 p.m. 2021 ENERGY STAR Design Challenge (EPA)

Feb. 24, 6–7 p.m. Coral Check-up Lesson Series (National Marine Sanctuaries)

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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