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First Green Flag School West of the Mississipi River
On Friday, June 22, Courtney Sullivan (NWF Education Manager, Pacific Region) and I traveled to Bothell, WA to award the NWF Eco-Schools USA Green Flag to Skyview Junior High School. Skyview is the seventh school in the country, and first school West of the Mississippi River to receive the highest level of recognition offered through the Eco-Schools USA program.
Over the past seven years Skyview has worked to green its building, school grounds and curriculum. Its signature achievement is its Outdoor Environmental Learning Center, which has been certified through NWF’s Schoolyard Habitats Program. This 6.5 acre outdoor learning classroom was created through the help of volunteers, who have planted natives, dug wetlands, built bird/owl houses and created a network of trails. When Courtney and I visited the school to conduct their onsite assessment we had the opportunity to take a tour of the Learning Center led by members of the school’s Green Team. The student’s enthusiasm for the outdoor space was evident, with students identifying plants and talking about their unique features as we walked along the trails. Much of this student knowledge can be attributed to the school’s Naturalist in Training Program which trains students in plant and wildlife identification.
A few of Skyview Junior High School’s other achievements:
• They’ve reduced trash by 80% and increased recycling by almost 70%
• They’ve led a campaign that has resulted in nearly 80% of students getting to school some other way than having their parents drop them off.
• They’ve reduced energy use by 18% since 2008.
One of the things that impressed Courtney and I the most during our visit to the school was the level of dedication and commitment students in Skyview’s Green Team have made to greening their school. The students take their commitment to environmental stewardship very seriously. Much of this I think can be attributed to the mentorship and guidance provided by science teachers John Schmeid and Tom Nowak. These teachers have helped the students take ownership of the school greening process, and have inspired them to think big about what they as individuals can do to protect our planet.
Congratulations Skyview on a job well done!