From our Executive Director:
Green Schools...It Takes a Village to Sustain a Movement

Building a movement is not easy and it does not happen overnight.  It requires each of us to step outside of our comfort zones to make change happen.  As I reflect back on the early years of the Green Schools National Network, I continue to be amazed at what we have accomplished over such a short time.  And it is all because of you...

The Green Schools National Conference has come a long way since its inception in 2010.  Conference attendance has risen from 900 in 2010 to over 1200 in 2015; programming has expanded to include a Student Summit as well as a series of Solutions Summits; and the event has gained a reputation as the premiere gathering for green schools advocates.  And yet, the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) has always aspired for something more: more engaging programming, a larger reach, a greater dedication to growing the green schools movement.  By partnering with the Center for Green Schools at the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC), GSNN's aspirations for the Green Schools Conference are one step closer to reality.

Advancing sustainability and environmental literacy at the state level can be a challenge.  Expand this work across several states and the stakes become higher.  With so many stakeholders and interests in play, can meaningful, impactful work be accomplished?  Since the early 1980s, the partners of the Chesapeake Bay Program have been proving the impossible is possible and in a big way.  One of their more recent accomplishments was the signing of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement on June 16, 2014.  This agreement marks the first time that environmental literacy, and by extension sustainable schools, has been included as a goal to advance the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

California has a long history of embracing environmental and outdoor education in its schools, from its Education and the Environment Initiative to its Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights. While there has been much progress, disparities in student access to environmental education still exist.  The good news is the vast majority of Californians want environmental education in K-12 schools. However, according to a recent survey of California school principals, only 13% of K-12 schools in California have integrated environmental education into their curriculum to a meaningful degree. This issue is near and dear to the heart of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson.  Inspired by his background as a science teacher and his love for the environment, Superintendent Torlakson led the charge that resulted in California's Blueprint for Environmental Literacy.
Developing meaningful, place-based outdoor curriculum can be a challenge for teachers.  Many are faced with few resources, little time, high achievement demands, and little to no experience with environmental and outdoor education.  The Wisconsin Green Schools Network (WGSN) is working to change this through their F.I.E.L.D. Corps program, a unique model of teaching environmental education that is winning over teachers in Wisconsin and having a lasting impact on students.
Collaborations between teachers and scientists can generate novel classroom experiences that enhance students' enthusiasm for science.    Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine and originally authored by Alison Varty and Steve Bertman.

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