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Grow a Green School

2010 November 16

By Megan Gavin

GreenRecently I attended the first Green Schools National Conference held in Minneapolis. One of the many cool things about the conference was the variety of people who came together with the common goal of how to make schools ‘greener’ and more sustainable. When you think about it, there are a lot of environmental issues surrounding schools – you have lighting, food, garbage, ventilation, schools with and without access to nearby nature and teachers who need to teach standards but want to integrate sustainability concepts into the curriculum – just to name a few. Sounds a bit overwhelming! Where do you even get started?

As part of the conference, the Will Steger Foundation sponsored a youth summit for 100 high school kids from across the country. While the adults were trying to choose between sessions about green jobs, using renewable energy, energy & water conservation, waste reduction, recycling, green purchasing and cleaning, creating a school-wide green culture, school garden programs, school lunch programs and more, students were learning about how to be leaders themselves.

The highlight came at the end of conference for me, when students who attended the youth summit reported out about what they learned. One of the student presenters was a Region 10 President’s Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) winner form last year. Students spoke about learning tips and tools to get grants to fund their projects, how to be advocates and get media attention for their issues and more. I learned that active, interested high school students have a voice and they will not stop until they are heard. Adults and students alike had come together to support the concept of green schools!

In addition to learning from students, I learned from other organizations too. For example, I learned the U.S. Green Building Council has a center for green schools which helps to engage educators in creating sustainable learning environments for their students and apply solid research to inform leadership about the benefits of healthy, high-performing schools. I learned about other cool resources such as ‘Green my Parents’ which is a movement and a book that teaches kids that through fun, simple activities, keeping score and grading their parents, young people reduce energy consumption, water usage and waste at home to save over $100 for their family and take charge of creating a more sustainable future today.

All in all, I was reminded that green schools aren’t only about the building but the people inside the building. The opportunities to get involved in this movement are endless. My goal is to find kids doing ‘green’ projects in my area and help them get the recognition they deserve through EPA’s President’s Environmental Youth Award program.

About the author: Megan Gavin currently works as the environmental education coordinator in the Chicago office of EPA.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 16, 2010

    Your “Green Minded” is Respectable.
    I impress your “green” word repeater. I hope The People, include me, follow you. This planet needs the humans who always repeat “The Green” wherever and whenever. God Bless You!!!!!

  2. Chris permalink
    November 18, 2010

    I enjoy sifting through this site. Alternative transportation is a step we can take to help our environment as well as health as a whole country. We have determined what our problems are and will continue to be unless we stand up and change. Many great people regardless of their lifestyles are opening their eyes to this. I myself ride around on electric bikes to do my fair share of preservation.


  3. John permalink
    November 19, 2010

    Thanks Megan! Go green policy is admirable at any stage but promoting it at the school level is the best. If people can be educated about the importance of ‘going green’ from school level, they will be able to better under their responsibilities. biodegradable urns

  4. Ashley permalink
    November 21, 2010

    I think that trying to make schools more green is a worthy goal. If we want people to start adhering to environmentally friendly polices and practices, we need to start teaching children at a young age. Children who are taught that we need to minimize our impact on the environment will be more likely to sustain these practices into adulthood. If we can start incorporating information about the environment into the curriculum, kids will better understand the importance of doing all we can to protect it. I think that schools are a great place to put the green practices we always hear about into action. I think science classes should include a unit on sustaining the environment and green living. The youth in our country need to take the lead on protecting the environment because they are the ones who will be most effected. We need to start setting an example for kids by incorporating these practices into schools across the country.

  5. Simon permalink
    November 22, 2010

    I think taking the “green” movement to schools is innovative and well thought out. There are two main reasons that I think it is a initiative worth taking. The first reason is simply because of all the recycling that schools have to offer. School lunches are not going away anytime soon and with all this trash that is amounting daily there is no reason it should not be recycled. The other reason that this is a great idea is it is informing students about this issue at an early age. No time will be taken out of math, science, or english – Just having recycling bins in the classroom will be giving them a understanding of “going green.” Water bottles made of plastic are not leaving schools anytime soon. Teachers are not going to stop printing documents for there class to read anytime soon. These are opportunities to not only help out and recycle but also teach youth at a young age why it is important to care about limiting waste around the world.

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