Maryland Schools to Go Green Under New Eco-Schools USA Partnership
National and State-Level Resources Will Aid State’s Burgeoning Sustainability Education Movement
The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) and the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program have formed a partnership that will benefit more than 400 schools throughout the state by offering joint resources to make schools and curricula greener, with the intention of growing that number further in the future.
The partnership will link the Maryland Green Schools Program and Eco-Schools USA to encourage schools to go through both awards processes: performing environmental audits; ‘greening’ school buildings and grounds; conserving natural resources; and integrating environmental education into curricula. This new collaboration offers the support and cumulative expertise of two highly regarded organizations with a unique focus on making schools green as well as their most important export—the next generation of American conservationists.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight and it can’t happen unless there are resources that work to get an entire school community involved. This partnership brings together two organizations and their resources in supporting Maryland schools to create a greener learning environment both inside the classroom and out.” said Laura Johnson Collard, Executive Director, MAEOE
“Eco Schools USA provides national recognition to schools and the opportunity to broaden perspectives nationally and internationally,” added Maryland Green Schools Coordinator Joanne Schmader.
“Maryland has been at the head of the class when it comes to developing environmental literacy and connecting kids with nature,” said Laura Hickey, Senior Director of Eco-Schools USA. “We’re very pleased to be building on more than 20 Eco-Schools already registered in the state and fostering a true community for green schools.”
For the fourth consecutive year Education Week magazine has ranked Maryland the number one public school system in America, and the state’s school system has been at the forefront of green education too. In 2011 the Maryland State Board of Education approved a regulation establishing a high school graduation requirement in environmental literacy. It is the first of its kind in the nation. School systems are required to develop and implement a comprehensive environmental literacy program for all students pre-K -12. A few months later, Congressman John Paul Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s third district, introduced a House version of the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) to assist states in the development and implementation of stronger environmental literacy programs for K-12 students. Elective green certification efforts such as those exemplified by Eco-Schools USA and the Maryland Green Schools program strengthen this trend moving forward.
How to Become an Eco-School
Through school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools combines effective "green" management of the school grounds, facilities and the curriculum.