How Can Eco-Schools USA Benefit Your School?
Eco-Schools USA is a holistic program. It strives to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and culture of a school, including students, teachers, administrative staff, non-teaching staff and parents, as well as the local community. Eco-Schools USA works to extend learning beyond the classroom and develop responsible environmental attitudes and commitments, both at home and in the wider community. Whether you are a teacher, student, administrator or facilities manager, the Eco-Schools USA program can benefit your school and local communities.
An Established International Program
The Eco-Schools Program has been in existence since 1994, developed by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) with support by the European Commission and identified by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development in 2003. Eco-Schools is currently being implemented in over 50 countries around the world. Through the Eco-Schools USA program, schools across the globe can network, share data and discuss successes and challenges of implementing the program in their school. Students can take what they have learned locally and apply it on a global level and create a platform for cultural exchange and improving language skills.
Student Academic Achievement
Research has shown that students of all economic, racial and cultural backgrounds that are engaged in hands-on applied and real world aspects of environmental education have an increased desire to learn and perform better on most measures of student success. Educators today are also finding it harder to attract, retain and interest students in STEM disciplines. Eco-Schools USA curriculum and activities can help educators to engage students in mathematics, reading, science, and critical thinking. Learn more about the academic benefits of Eco-Schools, and click here for a graphic describing the connection between STEM and our Planet. Environmental education can even be a strategy to prevent students from dropping out of school; click here to read a report about how National Wildlife Federation's environmental education programs can keep students engaged and enrolled.
Actions undertaken throughout the program may lead to savings in the school's energy bills and water consumption. Recent research on the economic value of the Green Schools program has revealed that the program has saved schools in Ireland a minimum 2 million euro (or 2,917,083 USD) in waste, electricity, water and fuel costs this year. Here in the United States, the nation's school districts spend more than $6 billion a year on energy. As much as 30 percent of that energy is used either inefficiently or unnecessarily. Just think of the money that your school could save!
School Waste Reduction and Conservation of Resources
Schools are well known for the amount of waste they produce and the inefficiency of their energy and other natural resource use. Schools that are engaged in an Eco-Schools program conduct a comprehensive environmental review of how they utilize energy, water, reduce waste, etc. and implement actions that help to reduce and solve these issues. For example in Ireland, 12 tonnes (13.2 tons) of waste was diverted from landfills every school day by schools that were undertaking the Eco-Schools program. 3.7 million units of electricity, 200 million liters (52.8 million gallons) of drinking water and around 500,000 liters (132,000 gallons) of transportation fuel were saved in just one year. Learn more about limiting consumption and reducing waste.
Increased Environmental Awareness and Stewardship
Students (as well as teachers and other school staff!) are encouraged to use their new environmental knowledge everyday in school and at home. This helps students to see the relevance of what they learn in the classroom and apply it in real life or authentic learning experiences. Eco-Schools engages students in active citizenship, creating environmental stewards for life.
Involvement of the Local Community
Eco-Schools USA is a great way to connect your school with the local community. By engaging local organizations, businesses and others that have expertise in many areas of environmental management, your students will better understand how to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real life issues as well as career opportunities.
Wondering how schools are implementing the Eco-Schools USA program and what benefits they have observed through their participation? Take a look at our Snapshots for more details.