Saturday, June 13, 2009

School Tree-Planting Programs

Many schools could use significant greening of their grounds/campuses. Trees are a big part of the answer. There are long-lasting benefits including: cleaner air, cooler temperatures, shade from the sun, and a greener overall setting for learning.

In addition, planting and caring for trees on school grounds can have a number of educational and motivational benefits for students and teaching.

Education opportunities include:

-the science of climate change,

-biological and natural sciences,

-community service development

-mathematics, reading and more.

A useful guide for school tree planting was devloped through a collaboration of the U.S. Forest Service and the Center for Watershed Protrection. Download guide. In addition to planting tips, it spells out some project logisitics and tree care information.

Another helpful tool is a Canadian guide with diagrams for tree planting to help make sure they are places properly. Download diagrams.

Additional information is available from Casey Trees

Tree and tree planting Organizations:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Advice On Green Field Trips

Eco-schools can offer many learning opportunities for students including taking a break from the grind and going on a field trip. Field trips stimulte student interest in learing and provide lasting memories. There is research that shows it also advances pro-environment attitudes in students.

Common environmental field trips include:

-Parks, forests and nature center-Zoos and aquariums
-Picnic areas, rivers, ponds and lakes
-recycling centers
-power plants
-water treatment facilities ...and more

To get good ideas on where to go for green field trips, the National Wildlife Federation can help. Visit NWF's Green Hour/Be Out There site and click on NatureFind. Another list of resources was developed for
For schools where fields trips are not possible there is an interesting guide for on-site, mini field trips by the National Science Teachers Association called: Ten Minute Field trips. You can preview it here. There is also useful information for home-schoolers.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Guidance for Starting a School Recycling Program

There is a considerable amount of information available on-line for helping schools get started with a recycling program if they either don't have one yet or need to take a fresh look at their existing program and make improvements. Waste management in schools is an excellent teaching tool and a program that is practical enough it can spread to the home.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board has one such school-based site. It contains guides, useful links and examples: click here.

Kentucky has an easy-to-access comprehensve guide for teachers and administrators. Download.

Jenn Savedge, writing for Mother Nature Network, has an interesting approach. See article. (Photo from MNN)

Schoolyard Habitats Add to School Greening

Schools can be greened inside and out. One popular approach to greening a school's grounds is to design, create and certify a schoolyard habitat. The National Wildlife Federation has supported and certified 3,300 U.S. schoolyard habitats (June of 2009) and the US Fish and Wildlfie Service likewise supports schools in the development of on-site habitat study areas. These programs teach children skills in math, science and reasoning and are deeply interesting to them. As a result, academic performance improves and students who were mostly disengaged become engaged and even enthuisastic. The National Wildlife Federation also partners with affiliated statewide organizations who likewise support schoolyard habitats. NWF schoolyard habitat program USFWS schoolyard program

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Top Reasons Green School Buildings Are a Good Idea

The U.S. Green Building Council is dedicated to the development of school buildings that are healthy for children, are good work environments for educators, support cost-effective use of funds, and themselves are educational tools for a green economic future.

USGBC has summarized the usual benefits of green school buildings. See list.

Best Energy Audit Guides for Schools

The U.S. EPA reports that at least 25% of the energy used in schools is wasted. Having students do an organized audit of their school's energy use can lead to a challenging and rivoting educational experience and save many thousands of dollars.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Waste Management and Research Center and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have posted a page with links to many of the leading school audits avaialble for download. There are self-guiding audits for teams in both primary and seconday schools. See list.

Starting A School Environmental Club

There are many ways to make schools greener but all of them should involve developing leadership and management skills in students. (Photo:
The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point is a leader in studying and promoting environmental education in America. The school environmental club guide it developed provides excellent, step by step guidance for those wishing to establish a school-based environmental club. Download the guide.