True Roots: One NWFer Reconnects Through Eco-Schools USA

This month, I traveled back in time with the Eco-Schools USA program.

I took another trip to my former middle school in Fairfax, VA—40 years later, it’s now an Eco-School! I attended Lanier Middle School in the late 1960s (which is both gratifying and mortifying at the same time). My older sister, husband and brother-in-law went there as well, so the school is somewhat of a family tradition.

Some time ago I contacted Principal Scott Poole, who sounded thrilled to hear from an alumna. NWF’s Eliza Russell and I set up a meeting to talk about the school’s sustainability initiatives, which led us to attend a pizza party at Lanier, 40 years on. 

Students take eco-action
This month, Lanier’s Eco-Action Team received an Eco-Schools award, the first for Fairfax County. The students and teachers were psyched to be honored with the Silver Award, which means the school accomplished goals from the Seven Steps criteria. Having completed this piece of the puzzle, the Eco-Action Team will now shift focus to Energy, School Grounds, and Waste/Consumption.

The art department and team leader Faiza Alam created special certificates for each student, in recognition of efforts to improve their school’s environmental initiatives. One parent told me the best part about her daughter’s team participation is that her kid talks about what she’s learned all the time after school, and she keeps the family in check when at home. It’s truly rewarding to see this program in action and to know that it is making a difference.

The nitty-gritty

Lanier’s Eco-Action Team submitted a proposal to reduce the school’s energy lighting load by 15-20 percent at no cost to the district.
The team determined that Lanier produces 370 pounds of waste per week, and students have taken steps to reduce that amount.
The students applied for and received a grant to build an ecosystem courtyard at the school, which will also solve a current drainage problem. The project gets underway this summer.

Learn more about NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program
Visit to register your school today. You can also watch a Lanier Middle School video about the choices each of us must make to help save our environment by visiting

Looking to speak to someone about NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program? Contact Laura Hickey at