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Colorado Eco-School Among the Nation’s Most Eco-Friendly
Heritage Elementary School in Highlands Ranch, Colo., which uses an on-site garden, recycling and water conservation to teach students about sustainability, is one of the country’s top 10 Eco-Schools.
The award by the National Wildlife Federation recognizes Heritage and nine other schools across the country as among the best in working to be more environmentally friendly, protecting wildlife and giving students hands-on lessons in science, biology and other curriculum. The honor follows its award of a Green Flag, the top level in the Eco-Schools program.
“Heritage Elementary School is a great model of environmental education, with students, parents, teachers and staff taking action to strengthen their science, technology, engineering and math programs by using nature and hands on experiential opportunities to academic achievement.” – Collin O’Mara, National Wildlife Federation president and CEO.
The National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program challenges schools to become more environmentally sustainable by conducting an audit, writing an action plan, and engaging the community in implementing solutions. Schools are able to achieve several levels of certification: Bronze, Silver, and the Green Flag.
Recently, NWF selected America’s Top 10 Eco-Schools. All of these schools have achieved Green Flag status by implementing extensive solutions across multiple focus areas.
Heritage Elementary, in the south Denver area, promotes sustainability throughout the community, hosts events and acts as an example for other schools. Twenty percent of the school’s food is produced locally, and the grounds have a garden and innovation space to immerse students in sustainable learning. Areas of focus include composting, recycling, and water and energy conservation.
“Heritage Elementary and the Douglas County School District have really set the bar high for creating sustainable school communities in Colorado. NWF congratulates them on their efforts and we look forward to expanding this model throughout the state and the region.” – Brian Kurzel, the National Wildlife Federation’s regional executive director based in Denver
Last year, Heritage was only one of 24 schools nationwide and two in Colorado to receive a $2,500 grant through a partnership of the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The school will work with staff at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to establish or replicate native ecosystems on the school grounds. Native vegetation will be planted to attract butterflies and other pollinators and provide habitat for wildlife.
“Heritage Elementary School is creating outdoor living laboratories and habitat on their grounds, reducing energy and water usage, and improving recycling – all of which provide opportunities for students and save money for school districts,” O’Mara said. “We salute the school for taking the lead in giving a shining example to other schools of how we can come together to inspire the next generation of conservation stewards and build communities where people and wildlife can grow and thrive.”