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Brooklyn Schools Earn National Environmental Award

Greenpoint Eco-Schools Receive “Green Flags” for Sustainability

Brooklyn, NY – Four public schools in Greenpoint, Brooklyn today received a Green Flag Award, a national honor given only to top schools who show exceptional leadership, education and action on school and community environmental issues. The distinction was given to P.S. 31, P.S. 34, P.S. 110, and M.S.126 by Eco-Schools USA, a K-12 school sustainability program of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization. Greenpoint Eco-Schools program is a comprehensive K-8 environmental education program funded by a $1.75 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund through the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Only 15 schools New York City have received the Green Flag award.

“I am very proud of our District 14 Greenpoint public schools for being recognized with this prestigious national award,” said school district Superintendent Alicja Winnicki, who keynoted the event. “In collaboration with NWF staff, our principals and teachers have passionately engaged students and families in learning about the importance of improving the environment in their schools and neighborhoods. Students from these four schools are now ambassadors for conservation, and making life connections to nature. The Eco-Schools program is giving them an incredible opportunity to cultivate leadership skills in a community that has been plagued by environmental pollution for decades.”

To be eligible for the prestigious Green Flag award, schools had to complete at least three Eco-Schools Pathways of Sustainability. All schools tackled Energy, Water, Consumption and Waste, Healthy Schools and Schoolyard Habitats, following the Eco-Schools seven step framework that includes forming a student green team, conducting an environmental audit, creating an action plan, and engaging the entire school community.

“Today, these four Greenpoint schools have set a new standard for whole-school sustainability,” stated Emily Fano, Senior Manager of NWF’s NYC Eco-Schools program. “The Greenpoint program serves as a national model for what can be achieved - in terms of student engagement and academic achievement, real conservation outcomes, and wonderful community partnerships,” Fano said.

“New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman congratulates the Greenpoint Eco-Schools for achieving this great milestone and being awarded the prestigious “Green Flag” award,” said Lem Srolovic, Chief of A.G. Schneiderman’s Environmental Protection Bureau. “The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund is proud to have worked with local residents and the National Wildlife Federation to bring the Eco-Schools program to Greenpoint as an investment in the community’s future. The Attorney General couldn’t be more pleased with the tremendous achievements that Eco-Schools and the four award-winning schools have made in advancing leadership, education, and action on the environment in Greenpoint.”

A key feature of the National Wildlife Federation’s Greenpoint Eco-Schools program is the placement of full-time, paid “Sustainability Coaches” in each of the four schools. These Coaches have worked with teachers, students, and families on a host of projects. Last year, NWF Sustainability Coaches collectively diverted 135,000 pounds of waste from landfill, facilitated more than 125 workshops, stewardship activities, or meetings for school families and the community, reaching over 1,100 local residents, organized over 100 outdoor/community activities and field trips, and helped students at each school survey wildlife, inventory plant species, and investigate the types and quality of habitat in the Greenpoint neighborhood. Another core component of the program - a Green STEM After School program - “Waste, Water, Wildlife, and Watts” - has engaged students in fun activities like building aquatic robots that can “rescue divers” and “clean up oil spills” as they connect to the issues of water pollution in Newtown Creek - a Superfund site - and learn about technological innovations that might help them consider careers in the STEM fields.  

Sustainability Coaches in Action:

At PS 110, Sustainability Coach Fran Agnone is currently working on a community stewardship project with parents to spread awareness about local lead levels in soil, and will begin developing a field guide for local trees with students and teachers in the fall. Sustainability Coach, Tina Wong-Hodgson, at PS 34 has helped develop the school’s Green STEM program and recently helped children and their parents make and model costumes from upcycled materials for an eco-fashion show. At PS 31, Sustainability Coach Ali Schuettinger is working with students to design and transform an underutilized science lab into a Green STEAM Lab, complete with hydroponics and a mini greenhouse, and Sustainability Coach Fai Walker at MS 126 is providing experiential learning opportunities through activities like the creation of a Greenpoint wildlife map, while also helping students connect the dots between themselves, future generations and the natural world.

The Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability works in close partnership with Eco-Schools as part of the City’s efforts to offer environment-based programming and resources to teachers, and increase overall school sustainability.

“Eco-Schools USA is a valued partner in DOE's efforts to increase awareness and active participation in whole-school sustainability, and this award recognizes the valuable and important work that students and staff are doing to learn about and improve the environment in their school and community. Congratulations to the schools on this well-deserved award and for their leadership in sustainability!” said Meredith McDermott, Director of the Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability.

About Eco-Schools USA:

Eco-Schools is an international program in 63 countries and more than 50,000 schools. It strives to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of the life and culture of a school. The National Wildlife Federation is the sole U.S. host of the Eco-Schools USA program. There are about 5,000 Eco-Schools in the U.S. and over 500 in NYC alone. Schools can register for free online and connect with Greenpoint Eco-Schools on Facebook.

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