Students Making a Difference through Hands-on Civic Engagement

"It is highly interesting to our country, and it is the duty of its functionaries, to provide that every citizen in it should receive an education proportioned to the condition and pursuits of his life." - Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1814
Thomas Jefferson wrote and spoke often about the importance of education in a democracy. He understood that reading, writing, and arithmetic were necessary skills to be an informed and engaged citizen, and thus participate fully in self-government. It's why he advocated for free public education. Times have changed, but the basic premise of Jefferson's views on education remain the same. We can't expect to function as a democracy if we don't understand what's expected of us as citizens.
That's why high-quality civic education is a must in K-12 education. I'm not just talking about reciting and memorizing facts about the three branches of government from a textbook. Now more than ever, students need opportunities to actively engage in our government and its workings at all levels. This includes learning about the environmental and social issues that affect their immediate communities and coming up with real solutions for change.
This month, GreenNotes featured articles that demonstrate how high-quality civic education and engagement can provide students with hands-on opportunities to make a difference in their communities, from tackling civic environmental science in Southeast Michigan to using a place-based, service-learning approach in Virginia to address local environmental challenges. We even highlighted how the cafeteria has become a place for civic engagement, where cafeteria workers are organizing for school food reform.
A sustainable future is only possible when current and future generations develop the skills and competencies needed to participate in local and global communities. We cannot afford otherwise, as Jefferson so aptly sums up: "If the children are untaught, their ignorance and vices will in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences than it would have done in their correction by a good education."

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: GSNN is shifting Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly's publication schedule. Look for the Winter 2020 issue to be released in February 2020. 
Feature Articles

Engaging Youth as Citizens through Service-Learning

Civic Environmental Science in Urban Schools

K-12 Cafeterias are Spaces of Civic Engagement for Kids and Cooks

Taking the TREK to Academic Learning and Civic Engagement

Venturing Beyond the School

Reprinted with permission from Green Teacher magazine. 
Learn with Green Schools National Network

Embedding SEL in School Climate and Culture

When: 4:00pm - 5:00pm ET on February 10, 2020
Cost: Free!

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is recognized as a critical component of student learning, fostering skills and dispositions in students that are critical for their success in navigating an increasingly complex and ever-changing world. This webinar will feature two New Mexico schools that are actively deepening their SEL practice and tracking impact. Zuni Middle School in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico will discuss how they are combining SEL development with A:shiwi Core Values to further traditional Indigenous culture. Vista Grande High School in Taos, New Mexico will share how SEL practices are enhancing Crew structures and daily lessons. Both schools will discuss actions that participants can take to integrate SEL into school culture.

2020 Green Schools Conference and Expo

When: March 2 - 4, 2020
Where: Hilton Portland Downtown, Portland, Oregon

Don't miss this opportunity to learn from and network with educational leaders, green building professionals, nonprofit partners, and others who are passionate about the future of green schools. Five tracks of programming will be offered:  

Track 1: Healthy School Environments
Track 2: Driving Cultural & Behavioral Change
Track 3: Kickstarting Sustainability Programs in Schools
Track 4: Designing Schools for the Future
Track 5: Engaging & Empowering Students

Early bird pricing has been extended! Take advantage of early bird rates through January 10, 2020. Both full and daily passes are available. The Hilton Portland Downtown is also offering special room discounts until February 17, 2020.

Become a Green Schools National Network member and receive discounted registration pricing! Learn more about becoming a member.

Sustainability Leadership: A Road Map for Driving Innovation Through the Triple Bottom Line

Who: Executive Level and Building Level School Leaders
When: March 30 - 31, 2020
Where: Old Donation School, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Cost: Catalyst Network Members: $100
          GSNN Members: $200
          Non-Members: $250

Register at this link.

Join Green Schools National Network and 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Award recipient Virginia Beach City Public Schools for a 1.5 day exploration of
Sustainability Leadership: A Road Map for Driving Innovation Through the Triple Bottom Line . This site seminar is designed for Executive Level and Building Level leaders who are interested in learning how sustainability can help their districts reduce expenses while decreasing their ecological footprints; improve the health and well-being of those who work, learn, and play in their schools; and prepare students for college and careers in a future that will require new ways of thinking and learning. The site seminar will highlight how sustainability leaders, informed by Harvard University's Executive Education in Sustainability Leadership program, have developed purpose-driven ideas to drive innovation in organizational culture, operations and management, and teaching and learning.

Preparing Students for Green Careers

When: 4:00pm - 5:00pm ET on May 11, 2020
Cost: Free!

Growth in careers within environmental and sustainability fields is expected to trend upward for the foreseeable future. It's vital that educators prepare students to be leaders and innovators in these fields by equipping them with the skills needed to ideate, design, adapt, take risks, learn from mistakes, and collaborate with others. This webinar will feature two school districts that are giving students opportunities to hone these skills. Whitefish School District in Montana will share how their Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship offers students a fast track to a green future. Carson City School District in Nevada will discuss their strong CTE program and how it connects to many of the district's and city's sustainability initiatives.

Exploring the Legacy of Wangari Maathai in Kenya

Who:  K-12 Educators
When:  July 14 - 27, 2020
Where:  Kenya, Africa, including stops in Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru, and Masai Mara
Cost:  $5,575 (based on a minimum of seven participants). Cost includes meals, accommodations, and activities as indicated in the itinerary; in-country transportation; full-time guide for the duration of the program; bottled water on the bus; and carbon offset. Does not include international airfare, estimated at $1,625 from Orlando, gratuities, or items of a personal nature. Other departure cities are available.

Exploring the Legacy of Wangari Maathai is a 13-day adventure designed for educators that follows the footsteps of the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate. This field-based learning experience incorporates themes of cultural exchange, service-learning, and sustainability. Participants will receive transdisciplinary learning experiences that will deepen their understanding of the complexities that surround global environmental issues and inspire action. This professional learning experience provides the following opportunities:
  • Learn about Wangari Maathai by visiting her birthplace and the foundations, institutes, and programs that continue to advance her work;
  • Live and work with members of the Green Belt Movement;
  • Design curriculum for your classroom that integrates Wangari Maathai programs and ideas; and
  • Explore one of the world's most important and unique natural resources - the African Plains.
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