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Back to School With a Purpose: National Wildlife Federation Publishes Toolkit to Create Environmentally Sustainable Schools

Brooklyn, NY — National Wildlife Federation is pleased to announce the publication of its Greenpoint Eco-Schools Sustainability Toolkit, which highlights the results and stories from the Brooklyn-based Greenpoint Eco-Schools program and offers a roadmap for school communities that want to take action to make their schools more environmentally sustainable. The Toolkit can be viewed and downloaded here.

“Scientists have told us that we have less than 12 years to implement sweeping societal changes to prevent climate collapse; and 30-50 percent of all plant and animal species globally are at risk of extinction by mid-century,” says Emily Fano, senior education manager for the National Wildlife Federation in New York City. “Students around the world are both fearful about their future and outraged that adults have not been better stewards of the planet they’ll inherit. Students, teachers, and parents are organizing to demand meaningful education that will prepare youth for the changes ahead. This Toolkit is a valuable resource for teachers that helps to answer that need.”

The 60-page publication includes school stories about a student designed rainwater catchment system, Green STEM program, hydroponic farm stand, and composting education for Pre-K students. The Toolkit also offers valuable advice about how to engage families and community partners in supporting environmental stewardship and education and provides practical tips for educators and student-led Green Teams.

From 2015 to 2019, the National Wildlife Federation’s Greenpoint Eco-Schools program integrated environmental sustainability practices into all aspects of the curriculum, culture and infrastructure of four Greenpoint, Brooklyn schools: PS 31, PS 34, PS 110, and MS 126. The hallmark of the program was placing full-time, paid Sustainability Coaches in each of these schools –an innovative and successful staffing model that could be replicated in schools across the district and the nation. A short film produced by Reelworks provides more background information on the program, as well as the Eco-Schools USA Seven Step Framework, the foundation for the program’s resource conservation activities.

During the four-year program, Sustainability Coaches created systems for reducing waste and energy use in their schools, reducing air and water pollution in their neighborhoods, supporting teachers as they infused sustainability themes and practices into their lessons, and learned to use their community as an outdoor classroom. Students also gained knowledge about the history of environmental pollution in Greenpoint and helped to restore their neighborhood by caring for street trees. They established new schoolyard gardens and community plantings that created 11,500 square feet of new native habitat for wildlife. The Greenpoint schools diverted more than 550,000 pounds of waste from landfills, collaborated with more than 35 local partners to offer service learning opportunities, and organized workshops and events—including field trips to local sites—that reached more than 15,000 school families and residents of Greenpoint.

There are more than 650 registered Eco-Schools and 50 National Wildlife Federation certified Schoolyard Habitats in New York City. Schools can register to become Eco-Schools for free here, begin exploring the Eco-Schools program Pathways, and achieve Eco-Schools certification and awards, such as the internationally recognized Green Flag award.

The Greenpoint Eco-Schools project was made possible with funding provided by the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

Local Contact: Emily Fano, National Wildlife Federation, fanoe@nwf.org, 917-301-8830

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