The U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award is a federal recognition for schools that have done an excellent job in reducing environmental waste, creating a healthy environment focused on students and staff wellness, and offering effective education on environmental protection and sustainability. This year, the Department selected 41 honorees as 2023 Green Ribbon Schools, including two charter schools.
Here are some highlights for the two charter schools honored as the 2023 Green Ribbon Schools:
1. Eagleville Elementary Charter School
Eagleville Elementary Charter School of Eagle, Wisconsin focuses on promoting environmental literacy using a community approach. Through the act of composting, recycling, and eliminating the use of plastic and paper in the cafeteria, students and staff actively participate in reducing waste in their daily practices. Eagleville has also worked hard to reduce outdoor air pollution by combining two bus routes to increase efficiency, as well as using a no-idling policy.
Students make daily use of the school gardens, and access to Jericho Creek to curate a hands-on experience with the natural environment. Students use literature, including the One Book One School program to learn about advocacy and environmentalism.
2. Watershed Public Charter School
Watershed Public Charter School located in Windsor Mill, Maryland is the only nature-based public school in the county. Watershed takes great pride in providing a hands-on learning environment that encourages students to assume leadership on environmental sustainability efforts. Both students and staff collaborate with the community to influence eco-friendly practices including planting trees, reducing home water use, growing and maintaining gardens, and promoting more outdoor time.
By monitoring building water and electricity from 2019 to 2022, Watershed successfully reduced its energy use by over 42% and water consumption by 60%. Additionally, students and faculty have access to five outdoor classrooms, including stream, micro-farm, rain garden, and meadow classrooms.
Congratulations to all the 2023 Green Ribbon Schools!
Cymara Hancock is a federal fellow at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.