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Here's What's Trending for December/January


Are You on the Road to a Bronze, Silver, or Green Flag Award?
Is this the year your school will earn a Bronze, Silver, or Green Flag award? Now is a good time to assess progress, and solidify a plan to achieve your goals by the end of the school year. As a reminder, schools work through the Seven Step Framework and accumulate points for specific criteria under each of the three award levels: Bronze, Silver, or Green Flag. Learn more about what it takes to earn an Eco-Schools USA award and download the Eco-Schools USA award checklists to track your progress as you journey along the path to each recognition level.


In collaboration with the Endangered Species Coalition and other partners, we are pleased to announce the 2019 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. The contest is open to K-12 grade students and youth art programs/clubs. The contest is an integral part of the 14th Annual Endangered Species Day held on May 17, 2019.

To be eligible, students’ artwork must depict a land- or ocean-dwelling species that either lives in or migrates through the United States and its waters, or a plant/flower that is found in the United States, and has been placed on the threatened or endangered species list.


Winter Wildlife Tips
The winter solstice officially arrives in December, but in many parts of the country wintry weather is already taking hold. Has the Eco-Action team thought about how they will continue providing food and water for local winter birds that visit the Schoolyard Habitat? Over the years, the National Wildlife Federation has published many articles that include tips and suggestions for ways to help birds and other wildlife survive during the colder months, such as:

  • Let leaves remain in the garden, as this can serve as a good winter habitat for small wildlife along with many insect species.
  • While you might feel the need to prune dead flowers and bushes or otherwise clean out your school garden before winter weather really sets in, leaving dried flower heads can benefit certain birds. 

Learn more in Tips for Winter Bird Feeding and What to Do With Fallen Leaves on the National Wildlife Federation blog.

Be sure to check out the latest issue of Ranger Rick® magazine, which includes great ideas for things to do outside this winter. Display the infographic in your classroom before winter break as a way to motivate students to get outside no matter the weather!


snowy owl in flight

The December issue of Ranger Rick® magazine brings attention to snowy owls in the latest Ranger Rick Adventures®. If you haven’t heard of Project SNOWstorm, the organization conducts crowdfunded research and has been tracking the annual movement of snowy owls since 2013. According to one of their latest blogs, the snowy owl has recently been spotted in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which is amazing considering they spend summer hunting north of the Arctic Circle. Check out the project’s interactive map to see the owls they have been tracking and find out if there are any in your part of the country. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology also has some cool facts about the snowy owl, including that they may eat more than 1,600 lemmings in a single year! Students can also learn more about other types of owls in the National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Guide.

Teachers can find the Owl Games and other extension activities in the December/January Ranger Rick Educator’s Guide.


Energy Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy

During December and January, our focus will be the Energy Pathway and related Sustainable Development Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy. Students can lead the effort to reduce energy costs by implementing energy-conservation measures and working to increase energy-efficient technology. While working on the Energy Pathway, have students connect their local energy conserving actions to Global Goal 7; small actions around the world have big impacts for the planet. For example, students may be surprised to learn that, according to the United Nations, over 13% of the world’s population still does not have access to modern electricity. While some of the Goal 7 targets relate to energy conservation, others include ensuring everyone has access to reliable and affordable energy services and increasing the portion of renewable energy in the total energy mix worldwide. Learn more from the National Wildlife Federation regarding renewable energy.

Follow @EcoSchoolsUSA on Facebook and Twitter to get more tips and information related to this pathway and to the SDGs. Remind students to share our tips and information during morning announcements, news programming, and/or monthly communications. #GlobalGoal7 #EnergyConservation


Did you know the National Wildlife Federation offers education programs beyond high school? The EcoLeaders program gives high school students, college students, and young professionals the opportunity to connect with peers on wildlife and environmental issues, and to earn one of several certifications for environmental leadership.

For high school students and teachers interested in learning about green career opportunities, there is an upcoming opportunity in February to join the virtual National Wildlife Federation’s EcoCareers Conference to hear from leading sustainability sector experts.

  • Where are the well-paying jobs in this changing economy?
  • Develop a personalized career plan
  • Identify top academic programs and green credentials
  • Explore sustainability career skill development opportunities
  • Learn about resources to enhance academic curricula across disciplines

The online conference will be held on February 27 and 28, and is free for high school students and high school groups. Students can join for all or parts of the virtual presentations.


Swimming With Salmon, Splashing with Beavers
We talk a lot about the importance of outdoor learning, and a recent blog—Swimming with Salmon, Splashing with Beavers—shares the stories of one stop in Washington State for 21 student-scientists as part of an immersive semester learning program. Students explored a beaver-pond complex to learn more about the positive impact to the local ecosystem when a pair of beavers was introduced into the pond. Read the full story on the blog to see what other cool experiences they had over the course of the semester. Through programs such as the National Wildlife Federation’s EcoLeaders and Semester in the West, we hope the passion for the environment shown by our Eco-Schools students will continue on long after high school.


It’s time once again for student researchers to conduct investigations using GLOBE protocols and use the data to address issues related to Eco-Schools USA pathways. Students from across the United States have the opportunity to come together at one of six face-to-face regional Student Research Symposia (SRS) to share the results of field investigations using GLOBE Program protocols or data from the GLOBE database. SRS are held in the spring of each year.

Teachers may apply for travel funding support through GLOBE’s funding application. The application deadline is February 1, 2019.

Learn more and read what past students and teachers have said about the experience.


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