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Department of Environmental Protection Honors Recycling Leaders, Innovators at Annual Awards Luncheon
Paterson students plant in their newly built rain gardens
Notes from the New Nature Movement for 10/17/2017
The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Outdoor Learning in Georgia!
October Sustainability Hero Announced
October Littoral News
Children & Nature Network News
Girls Scouts Create Living Walls for Silver Award
EPA Honors New Jersey Environmental Educators and Students
B is for bug when preschoolers make nature their classroom
Department of Environmental Protection Honors Recycling Leaders, Innovators at Annual Awards Luncheon             (Posted: 11-9-17)

Click HERE.

Paterson students plant in their newly built rain gardens             (Posted: 10-26-17)

Click HERE.

Notes from the New Nature Movement for 10/17/2017             (Posted: 10-20-17)

Click HERE.

The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Outdoor Learning in Georgia!             (Posted: 10-16-17)

Here's a recap of the 2017 Green Strides Tour
Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

In the News

Cooking demo with loco business at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School

The Green Strides Tour Celebrates Outdoor Learning in Georgia!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools director Andrea Falken, accompanied by various state and local officials, visited schools (including one postsecondary institution) in the Atlanta, Georgia, area on Sept. 19 and 20, as part of the fourth annual U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools’ Green Strides Tour. “Taking Learning Outside was the theme of this year’s tour, inspired, in part, by the growing forest school movement.  Learn more about the movement from 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Gilbert Elementary, and read about the two days of this, the 19th state over three annual iterations, of the tour from USGBC’s Georgia staff in attendance. See photographs from the tour (day 1, day 2, and both days).  We invite you to share tour photos and impressions on Twitter (EDGreenRibbon) and Facebook (EDGreenRibbonSchools) using the hashtag #GreenStridesTour.  >>>> 

Meet More of the 2017 Honorees!

As you leap into fall at school, take inspiration from the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools for ideas.  View the honorees and read about their work on Green Strides.  Also, read a blog about the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools ceremony.

Long Branch Middle School students conduct a waste audit with their principal.
Long Branch Middle School students conduct a waste audit with their principal.

Long Branch Middle School, Long Branch, New Jersey

Long Branch Middle School opened its doors with environmental impact at the forefront of its design, including geothermal heating and solar panels, the latter of which generate a whopping 43 percent of the school’s energy needs.  Long Branch has a score of 84 in Portfolio Manager, 21 points higher than four years ago, and has a 49 percent recycling rate.  The Power School Team tracks energy usage with the help of a program by New Jersey Natural Gas.  The school’s sustainability efforts have saved over $2,000,000 and earned bronze-level certification from Sustainable Jersey for Schools.  Long Branch curriculum embeds environmental sustainability across all grade levels and subject areas.  Students take learning out of the classroom in field trips to zoos, museums, the beach, and local watersheds.  They debate and write position-based essays on environmental topics.  Weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy, are studied to understand their effects on the school community.  The school partners with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium at Sandy Hook to have students study the environmental impact of sea grass on the dunes.  Special education students grow and harvest herbs and vegetables in their courtyard garden to cook and sell healthy meals to staff members at the student-run Café 63, which produces an annual healthy cookbook to sell each June.  Students compete once a year in an Iron Chef challenge in which students create their own healthy food plates from a list of given ingredients.  Over 95 percent of students walk or bike to school.  >>>>

RIC Bee Education
Rhode Island College has worked closely with the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association to develop its Bee Education Center, consisting of a three-hive apiary, a pollinator garden, an outdoor classroom, and a TV weather station.

Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island College is dedicated to enhancing the environment for those that learn and work on its campus. It is implementing many new initiatives that decrease costs, improve human health, and enhance sustainability learning.  The school has worked with energy services contractor Ameresco to implement fuel and electrical efficiencies across the campus.  Each year, graduates don caps and gowns made from recycled plastic water bottles, which are collected after graduation and again repurposed into carpeting.  The college decreased its use of dumpsters by 55 tons from 2015 to 2016, in large part by working with Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island.  Having installed 12 water bottle filling stations, the college eliminated over 80,000 plastic water bottles from entering the trash stream.  The Keefe Transportation Center offers transportation, via Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, to some 50 locations throughout the state.  The custodial crew uses nontoxic, Green Seal-certified Genesan cleaning agents in all of the buildings on campus.  All freshmen take a first year seminar class that delves into a sustainability theme.  In addition, the college launched a bachelor’s degree program in Environmental Studies in fall 2015.  >>>>

Thacher Wilderness School
Thacher’s Golden Trout Wilderness School, a remote campus in the southern Sierra Nevada, is a valuable tool in introducing the concept of sustainable systems and encouraging students to consider environmentally oriented careers.

The Thacher School, Ojai, California

The Thacher School is a coeducational boarding high school.  The campus is a National Wildlife Federation site that includes 25 acres of citrus and avocados that support the school nutrition program, rain gardens, and Hugelkultur landscaping.  Thacher has adopted the Whole-School Sustainability Framework (developed by the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University and published by The Center for Green Schools at the USGBC) and aligned it with a sustainability action plan. This allows the school to tackle sustainability from all angles. In June 2016, a new solar farm went live, providing 92 percent of the school’s electricity needs.  All projects in the last 10 years were constructed to LEED Silver building standards.  Water conservation projects have sprung up all around campus, including rainwater catchment systems, greywater systems in all of the dormitories, and xeriscaping projects on school grounds.   Thacher’s composting program, which includes horse manure, dining hall food waste, and green waste, processes over 1,600 tons annually.  The product is used for soil augmentation and improves storm water control.  Thacher also raises pigs, which are fed from dining hall scraps.  The school has a bee program that allows the school to process and distribute honey.  Pollinator gardens have been constructed and maintained around campus.  Thacher started a chicken program, which provides eggs for the dining hall.  The chickens also help the horse program by eating fly larvae and consuming green waste and food scraps.  The school offers rock climbing as a sport, and students have the opportunity to travel to Joshua Tree National Park and the Sierra Nevada to camp and climb on weekend trips.  Each incoming freshman student at Thacher is required to take a campus sustainability orientation as part of their official freshman orientation.  Thacher has an extensive equine program in which freshmen are required to ride and care for a horse the entire school year, and many upperclassmen then continue to ride.  Instructors discuss the local ecosystem and mountains, and offer two six-day pack trips per year, plus numerous weekend pack trips.  >>>>

Resources and Opportunities

Race to Zero

Apply to Participate in the Department of Energy Race to Zero Design Challenge

The U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition inspires college students to become the next generation of building science professionals. Through this competition to design zero-energy-ready buildings, future architects, engineers, construction managers, and entrepreneurs gain the skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generate creative solutions to real-world problems.  Design teams should submit applications by Nov. 7, 2017, for the April 20 to 22, 2018, challenge.  >>>>


Green Strides Design

The Green Strides Webinar Series Continues This Fall

The Green Strides Webinar Series promotes 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 of free webinars related to school, district, and postsecondary sustainability to for listing. (Note: All times listed are EDT.)

Oct. 16, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Dance of the Planets:  Motion Laws and the Solar System (NASA)

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

Oct. 17, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Testing Terror – Technology for Exploration – Speed of Sound(NASA)

Oct. 18, 5–6 p.m.  Testing Terror – Technology for Inspiration:  Engineering a Satellite (NASA)

Oct. 18, 6–7 p.m.  National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series:  NOAA Marine Debris Toolkit for Educators (NOAA)

Oct. 24, 1–2 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

Oct. 25, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Green Teacher Webinar Series:  Eco-System Monitoring Programs (Green Teacher)

Oct. 30, 5–6 p.m.  Simple Machine Shoebox Rovers (NASA)

Oct. 30, 7:30–8:30 p.m. Green Teacher Webinar Series: Telling Your Story With Story Maps(Green Teacher)

Nov. 2, 6–7 p.m.  Earth Sense – Remote Sensing at NASA:  For Your Eyes Only (NASA)

Nov. 8, 1–2 p.m.  WaterWednesday Showcase (EPA)

Nov. 9, 1–2:30 p.m. Food Organics Waste Prevention & Recovery (CURC)

Nov. 13, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Earth Sense – Remote Sensing at NASA:  My NASA Data (NASA)

Nov. 14, 6:30–7:30 p.m.  Space Mathematics:  Linking Math and Science (NASA)

Nov. 15, 7:30–8:30 p.m.  Green Teacher Webinar Series—Depaving:  A New Way to Change Cities from Grey to Green (Green Teacher)


Farm 2 School Month Carrots

October is National Farm to School Month…

National Farm to School Month was designated by Congress to symbolize the growing importance of farm to school programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies, and educate children about the origins of food.  The National Farm to School Network has developed resources and activities to promote Farm to School Month in schools, communities, and media outlets. >>>>

AASHE logo

…And Also Campus Sustainability Month

Campus Sustainability Month is a celebration of sustainability in higher education.  During October, colleges and universities organize events on campus and elsewhere to engage and inspire incoming students and other campus stakeholders to become sustainability change agents.  Events include teach ins, sustainability pledge-drives, zero energy concerts, waste audits, green sporting events, letter writing campaigns, and service projects.  >>>> 


Save the Date: Green Schools Conference and Expo is May 3 and 4, 2018, in Denver, Colorado 

The annual Green Schools Conference and Expo, the only national conference bringing together experts and stakeholders to influence sustainability in K–12 schools and districts, allows attendees to learn about creative strategies for success and take home real-life tools that can transform schools.  Early registration begins Oct. 30, 2017!   >>>>

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

October Sustainability Hero Announced             (Posted: 10-13-17)

Click HERE.

October Littoral News             (Posted: 10-13-17)

Click HERE.

Children & Nature Network News             (Posted: 10-13-17)
This Week In the Media: C&NN's News Roundup
Children & Nature Research Digest | September 2017
This Week In the Media: C&NN's News Roundup
This Week In the Media: C&NN's News Roundup
Guest Blogs and Commentary from the New Nature Movement

Richard Louv Richard Louv
Green schoolyards offer physical and mental health benefits for children: Green schoolyards bring... " says Richard Louv, Co-Founder of the Children & Nature Network. For this study, researchers summarized the peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting green schoolyard benefits to academic outcomes, beneficial play, physical activity, and mental health. To date, the research on the ...
Randall Solomon Randall Solomon
TAPinto “As students and teachers head back to school this year, they will learn the good news that their hard work has paid off,” said Randall Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey. “Becoming certified with Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a significant achievement for schools and ...

Girls Scouts Create Living Walls for Silver Award             (Posted: 9-22-17)

BRIDGEWATER - To complete their Silver Award, Girl Scout Troop 60097, all 9th graders, designed and created two Living Walls (also commonly referred to as vertical gardens) to address two contemporary issues; clean air/air quality, and providing a fragrance garden to benefit both humans and pollinating insects. One wall consists of air purifying plants, which would be placed inside a building. The other is decorated with beautiful and aromatherapy flowering plants, which could be found outside a building. To education the community the troop displayed the living walls at the Somerset County 4-H Fair this past August, where they were available to answer any questions that homeowners might have had and created informational flyers to be handed-out.

The troop become interested in living walls while completing the Girl Scout Breath Journey, which gives girls the opportunity to learn about environmental issues such as clean water and air, noise pollution, global warming, soil contamination, and agricultural processes.

The scouts received donations from Home Depot of Bridgewater, some friends of the troop and Storr Trackor who also donated as two pallets and a lesson in water irrigation. During the planning of the walls, the troop met with a certified Rutgers Master Gardeners to discuss which native plants and flowers would be best for this area. After the fair, the walls found a permanent home at the 4-H Center where the Bees and Garden 4-H club will keep up with the maintenance and care.

Going for the Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Working towards this award gives the girls the chance to show that they are leaders who are organized, determined, and dedicated to improving their community. Earning the award puts this troop among an exceptional group of girls who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world.

Living walls have many benefits; the walls work as a natural air-filtration system that building occupants can enjoy. Living walls metabolize harmful toxins while releasing oxygen into the workplace air, much like office plants, but on a much larger scale. Living walls also reduce noise levels by reflecting, refracting as well as absorbing acoustic energy. The interior and exterior living walls function to cool the air in the warmer summer months by a process known as "evapotranspiration." The winter months see the added advantage of building insulation thus reducing energy costs for heating the building. Lastly, living walls offer an inspirational and aesthetically intriguing natural boost to employee morale and reduce stress due to their beauty and fragrance.

EPA Honors New Jersey Environmental Educators and Students             (Posted: 9-6-17)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pleased to announce the winners of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). EPA honored these outstanding educators, along with winners of the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA), at a series of events in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. From across the country, 12 educators and over 75 students were recognized for their exceptional contributions to environmental education and stewardship, including winners from New Jersey. 

“Through their work, these impressive educators and students demonstrate how community partnerships — between schools, business and government — can build and sustain environmental change,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Together, EPA and our partners are working to improve environmental literacy across the nation.”

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators award recognizes innovative educators who bring environmental education into their classrooms through hands-on, experiential approaches.

The PIAEE winners from New Jersey are:

Daniel Delcher, Essex County Vocational Technical School in Flanders, New Jersey

Daniel Delcher has been an environmental science and sustainable agriculture educator for eight years and currently teaches grades 9 through 12. He uses innovative, hands-on laboratory lessons and place-based learning experiences to teach his students about agricultural and environmental science topics. Students design and build their own hydroponics system using materials found at the local hardware store, which encourages experimentation and develops critical-thinking skills. Crops grown using the hydroponics systems are donated to the Culinary Arts instructors and food service personnel at the school to be used in classes and during school lunch. As his school’s Green School Coordinator, Daniel has been instrumental in developing and establishing “Going Green” Initiatives that are reducing the school’s environmental impact, creating a healthy and safe environment, and educating the entire school on the environment. Daniel’s efforts and leadership contributed to his school being recognized as a National Department of Education Green Ribbon School in 2016.

Stephanie Bacskai, Holland Township School in Milford, New Jersey (Honorable Mention)

Stephanie Bacskai has 14 years of experience teaching K-12 students. Over the past 9 years, Stephanie has transformed the Technology Education curriculum to encompass integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Sustainable Education. Her environmental program provides hands-on opportunities for elementary students to use growlabs to learn about seed initiation, transplanting, and plant growth, and participate in environmental laboratory exercises conducted in a passive solar geodome.  Stephanie also introduced lessons on constructing rain barrels, which her students, dubbed the “Water Whisperers,”publicized. The school now has four rain barrels that were constructed and painted by students, and a fifth rain barrel is at the local community center.  The school built a garden with edible vegetables and plants, which has evolved into an even larger space that now serves as an outdoor living laboratory for first- and second-graders.

The President’s Environmental Youth Award recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth.

The PEYA Winners from New Jersey are:

Traposquitoes: “Creating a Mosquito Trap Using By-Products of Compost and Solar Power”.  Christa McAuliffe School (P.S. #28) in Jersey City, New Jersey

Understanding that mosquitoes carry diseases, three eighth-graders decided to create a new-and-improved mosquito trap as part of their school’s STEM initiative. The students developed a solar-powered mosquito trap that uses compost by-products (carbon dioxide and heat) as a mosquito attractant. With this trap design, the team hopes to improve upon the conventional traps currently offered, and bring public attention to the fact that there are environmentally friendly alternatives to the traps on the market today. The Traposquitoes have already begun impacting the world beyond their community. They started a “Global Traposquito” initiative to connect with other students to reduce the global mosquito population.

Agri-Environmental Squad: “Wait…this wasn’t grown with soil?” West Caldwell Tech School in West Caldwell, New Jersey (Honorable Mention)

Students at West Caldwell Tech School established a gardening and donation program to promote awareness about healthy food nutrition. Because their communities do not offer community greenhouses, gardens or quality grocery stores, the students established a program in collaboration with the Culinary Arts and Food Service program. During their class period, they grow, harvest, clean, and cut produce and donate the vegetables to culinary arts students, staff from the Food Service, and St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark.

For details on the 2017 PIAEE winners, visit

For details on the 2016 PEYA winners, visit

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit

B is for bug when preschoolers make nature their classroom             (Posted: 8-17-17)

Click HERE.

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