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First School in Texas to Earn National Award for Sustainability Initiatives!
Congratulations Small Green Tech Academy!
Clint Small Middle School’s Green Tech Academy located in Austin, Texas is modeling the way for other schools to go “green”! Since opening in 1999, the middle school has been highly involved in outdoor education, promoting conservation, sustainability, and helping native wildlife.
Due to the group’s ongoing efforts and successful projects, the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program has awarded Small Green Tech Academy with the national Green Flag award. By going above and beyond to teach and implement sustainability initiatives in their school and larger community, Small Green Tech Academy is now the first school in Texas, and the 40th in the country, to achieve this “Green Flag” status.
As an Eco-School, schools must choose at least one predetermined program pathway to follow such as Healthy Living, Biodiversity, or Climate Change. Additionally, to be considered for the Green Flag award, schools must show that they are succeeding in three different program pathways. In this case, Small Green Tech Academy has completed outstanding programs through the collaboration of students, school staff, parents, and community volunteers in the Energy, Healthy Living, and School Grounds pathways:
- Energy: Students completed classroom energy audits focusing on the types of light bulbs used, the length of time electronics are used/plugged in and the number of electronics in the classroom. They addressed any potential energy saving strategies within the classrooms and educated their peers and larger school community to do the same.
- School Grounds: Over the years students, teachers and volunteers have transformed over 4000 square feet of barren space into native habitat for ruby-throated hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, song birds, small mammals and more. They have built a greenhouse, a meditative labyrinth, wildflower gardens, a rain garden and a reconstructed prairie. They also have productive food gardens, orchards, and habitat corridors.
- Healthy Living: Students polled 50 non-Small Green Tech Academy students to see how often they were given opportunities to learn outside, what they were doing outside, and what activities they enjoyed most while being outside. Students evaluated the results and promoted outside opportunities and environments to teachers outside of the Small Green Tech Academy. They also designed different outdoor learning environments for students and teachers to enjoy such as an outdoor classroom, meditation gardens, memorial Grove of Champions, a disc golf course, a nature trail for hiking, a meditation labyrinth, bird watching benches, goat pen and a chicken coop that was featured on the 2014 Funky Chicken Coop Tour.
Small Green Tech Academy has also started an extensive Environmental Curriculum featuring courses about native species, sustainability, green building, horticulture, and nutrition. Students are taught about their relationship with the environment and how their actions impact their surroundings. The school is continuously working to bring various species of native animals to their campus. They are constantly increasing habitat to encourage birds, small mammals and snakes to remain in their gardens and other outdoor spaces. Recently, Small Green Tech Academy was awarded the National Wildlife Federation Outdoor Habitat grant to propagate milkweed and increase the habitat for the Monarch butterfly.
Small Green Tech Academy’s advice for others beginning their Eco-Schools journey:
Start small. Accomplish one pathway or one habitat project in a semester or a school year. After you have gone through the process once, you’ll be able to build your way up to accomplishing multiple projects at a time. Implementing and monitoring your work becomes easier each time you complete a project.
See more about Small Green Tech Academy’s work by visiting their Eco-Schools Dashboard.
Join NWF Eco-Schools USAs and learn how you can become involved with environmental education.
Donate to NWF and continue to help us fund the great conservation and sustainability projects done by committed Eco-Schools.