Eco-Schools USA February Newsletter

Abolitionist Teaching
The practice of working in solidarity with communities of color while drawing on the imagination, the creativity, the refusal, (re)membering, visionary thinking, healing, rebellious spirit, boldness, determination and subversiveness of abolitionists to eradicate injustice in and outside of schools.

~We Want to Do More Than Just Survive: Abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of educational freedom, Bettina L. Love

In This Edition

  • 2020 Events
  • Pathway Focus: Healthy Schools
  • Schoolyard Habitats® : Certification and Activities for Outdoor Learning
  • Current Events | In the Classroom: Nature’s Witness: The National Wildlife Federation Photography Exhibition
  • Learning About Wildlife: Year of the Rat
  • Green Grants and Opportunities

Spring 2020 Events

It’s time to plan for upcoming opportunities to engage all students in learning around protecting wildlife, implementing climate solutions and connecting students to nature. Add the following campaigns to your calendar and be on the lookout for more information in the coming months.

  • Mid-March (Middle and High School): Earth Day 50 teacher professional development, hosted by Eco-Schools USA, Project WET and Project WILD
  • April (All Grade Levels): National Wildlife Week
  • April 1-2 (High Schools): The National Wildlife Federation EcoCareers Conference
  • April 20-24 (All Grade Levels): Earth Day 50 Climate Teach-In hosted by Eco-Schools USA, Project WET and Project WILD
  • May: Garden for Wildlife Month
  • May 15 (All Grade Levels): Plan and host an Endangered Species Day event

Pathway Focus | Healthy Schools

Goal 16

Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

Goal 17

Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Have you ever considered how many hours a day or week students and teachers spend in and around the school building? This month’s environmental focus is on the Healthy Schools Pathway, which provides the framework to ensure students and staff have a healthy learning and working environment. Things such as water quality, indoor air quality, access to natural sunlight, and use of chemical-based cleaners can be targeted for improvement. Specific audits are available for students to assess potential problem areas. For example, it may be important to consider whether lead in the soil is an issue. Students can take the lead by working with district facilities to request cleanup and educate the community. Check out the Top 10 Tips to Create a Healthy School which includes resources such as Keeping Outdoor Play Safe: Simple steps to reduce lead exposure from soil.

Don’t forget to connect the work students are doing on the Healthy Schools pathway to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students can review Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals and read Partnerships: Why They Matter. Then discuss why it’s important to have shared goals and build relationships at the local, regional, national, and global levels.

Find more resources related to the Healthy Schools Pathway and the Global Goals by following @EcoSchoolsUSA on social media. Use school assemblies, school news, or other communication methods as an opportunity to share findings with and educate the school community. #HealthySchoolsPathway

Schoolyard Habitats® Certification

With spring just around the corner, are you on track to apply for a Schoolyard Habitats® certification? Whether you are working towards an Eco-Schools USA Bronze award with the Schoolyard Habitats® Pathway, or just creating a wildlife habitat, taking steps now will help ensure your school has all the elements necessary to apply for certification before the end of the school year. The certification is free, with the option to purchase a sign. Signs can be posted in the school’s habitat as a way to share your accomplishments with the school community.

Certified Schoolyard Habitat

Looking for ways to utilize your outdoor learning space? Green Schoolyards America recently published Experiential Outdoor Learning in the Schoolyard. This free schoolyard activity guide includes over a dozen wide-ranging ideas for outdoor learning.  

Get the Guide

In the Classroom | Current Events

Field trips can be a wonderful way to engage all students, but in today’s busy classrooms, logistics often stand as a roadblock. The National Wildlife Federation has put together a new virtual field trip for students and educators to experience Nature’s Witness: The National Wildlife Federation Photography Exhibition. From the classroom, travel around the world to see wildlife in their natural habitats and learn why #wildlifecantwait. The format is designed to engage students of all ages in discussions about wildlife and conservation while traveling across oceans and continents. Download a free activity guide for classroom use, and encourage youth age 13-17 to enter the National Wildlife® Photo Contest.

Virtual Field Trip

Learn About Wildlife

Did you know 2020 on the Chinese calendar is known as the “Year of the Rat?” This month in Ranger Rick® Magazine, students can learn all about rats. Find out how they are built for survival, from their long tails to their sturdy front teeth. If you can believe it, rats and people share some commonalities – check them out. The February free Ranger Rick® Educator’s Guide offers a classroom activity for students to accompany the story.

Green Opportunities and Grants

Professional Development