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Here's What's Trending in August


GETTING READY FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

Summer is winding down, and for many of us an impending change in weather patterns would be more than welcome.

As we transition into preparation mode for the 2018-2019 school year, Eco-Schools USA wants to highlight some of our major events for the year.  As you are creating your lesson plans please consider joining in the stewardship and conservation fun by penciling in the events below.

September 2018 Eco-Schools USA 2018-2019 Kick-Off (including several new resources!)
October 2018 Young Reporters for the Environment Kick-Off
February 2019 EcoLeaders Conference (high school and college students)
March 2019 Young Reporters for the Environment competition entries due
National Wildlife Week
April 2019 Earth Month
May 2019 Endangered Species Day
Garden for Wildlife Month
June 2019 Great American Campout

GREEN RIBBON SCHOOLS

Did you know the U.S. Department of Education honors educational institutions through its Green Ribbon Schools awards program? Recently, the U.S. ED announced their 2018 school honorees, which included 46 PK-12 schools, 6 school districts, and 6 post-secondary schools from across the United States. We are excited to share that roughly 25% of the honorees also participate in the Eco-Schools USA program!

Each year, schools get nominated based on high levels of achievement under the award’s three pillars: 1) Reduce environmental impact and costs; 2) Improve the health and wellness of school(s), students, and staff; and 3) Provide effective environmental and sustainability education. The Eco-Schools USA Seven Step Framework and environmental pathways support all three pillars.

For more inspiration, read about the 2018 Honorees. Congratulations to all the schools, districts and secondary institutions who have achieved this honor!

SCHOOLYARD HABITATS®

Garden for Wildlife™ Photo Contest
Have you heard the news? The first annual Garden for Wildlife™ photo contest will be open for entries September 10. There are 4 categories to choose from:

  • People in the Wildlife Garden
  • Close-Up Plants and Their Wildlife Visitors
  • Wildlife Observed Where People Live, Work, Play, Learn, and Worship
  • Wildlife Garden Habitat Features and Landscapes

It’s the perfect opportunity to show off your Schoolyard Habitat—get your art, photography, journalism, and media arts teachers involved!

Start now by reading 10 Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography.

The fee for the contest is $15 for up to 10 photos, with prizes in four categories. Get all the details on the Garden for Wildlife™  website. 

 

FROM THE WILDLIFE GUIDE

Birds

If you have been fortunate to be near a body of water this summer, you probably noticed a few birds during your visit. Many birds make their home on or near water, including the western snowy plover, a small shorebird that can be found on the coast of California. Unfortunately, their populations are declining, as human activity on the beaches increase. The August issue of Ranger Rick® magazine highlights an effort by scientists to find ways to help this small bird survive. The Shorebird SOS article provides a starting point for a class discussion about how scientists often look for solutions in the local environment (in this case using empty oyster shells from a nearby oyster farm to provide camouflage).

Students can use the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Guide to learn more about birds that live on or near water like the brown pelican and the sandhill crane. The student page in this month’s free Ranger Rick Educator’s Guide challenges students to Design a Bird, using knowledge learned from the Shorebird SOS story.

 

TIME IS RUNNING OUT

As reported by NAAEE’s Sarah Bodor

Environmental educators have a critical opportunity now and over the next few months to reach out to school district leaders, encouraging them to use applicable funds from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support environmental education. ESSA is the law that governs K-12 education in the United States (formerly No Child Left Behind). The legislation passed at the end of 2015 and includes, for the first time, language that makes environmental education explicitly eligible for funding under a Title IV grant program. The fiscal year 2018 budget agreement includes $1.1 billion for Title IV, Part A, which is nearly three times more than was allocated for 2017, the first year for ESSA implementation. This increase makes the 2018-19 school year the first truly meaningful opportunity for Title IV, Part A programs to make an impact in many school districts—and those programs include environmental education!

Read the story in its entirety to learn how you can use your voice and take action to support the inclusion of environmental education in state’s ESSA plans. NAAEE has prepared resources to assist you.

Find a comprehensive timeline for ESSA implementation here.

ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS AREAS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION

This new feature will focus on a monthly Eco-Schools USA pathway and related Sustainable Development Goal(s) as well as provide a few take action ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Follow us on social media @EcoSchoolsUSA to get more tips and information related to the highlighted pathway and SDG(s). Ask students to access this new feature and share it with the school community, along with our tips and information, during morning announcements, news programming and/or monthly newsletters.

 August Pathway Focus

ON THE BLOG

NYC Students Showcase Their Ideas for Creating Resilient Schools and Communities
Hurricane season is officially underway and the latest story on the blog, showcasing the Resilient Schools Consortium in New York City is a timely read. Back in June, six teams, of almost 100 students from coastal Brooklyn middle and high schools, showcased their work at the first of two Resilient Schools Consortium Student Summits. In the fall, students will use the Eco-Schools Seven Step Framework and Climate Change Pathway to move forward with small-scale projects. Sample project ideas include plans for rain gardens and bioswales that help to filter rain water and reduce the effects of flooding. These resilience projects will have positive effects on the local environment, while also improving biodiversity. Read more on the blog.

FAQs

For the next few months, in response to our recent End of Year Survey, we would like to address some of the most frequent feedback we received from teachers around the country. 

1. I need to reach out to someone on the Eco-Schools USA team. How do I do that? The best way to reach the Eco-Schools USA team is via email. Please send questions directly to eco-schoolsusa@nwf.org.

 2. Can I receive information directly to my inbox? Anyone can sign up to receive our emails, which include a link to our current newsletter along with other timely information. We typically send one email per month, except for the beginning and end of the school year when we often send two emails a month.

3. Where can I find information about grant opportunities? Every month we post grant opportunities at the bottom of this newsletter. We also share timely opportunities on our Twitter page @EcoSchoolsUSA.

GREEN OPPORTUNITIES

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Happening Near You

You don't have to travel far to join us for an event. Attend an upcoming event with one of our regional centers.

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