Eco-Schools USA April Newsletter

NWF   |   April 1, 2020

Ecological Resilience

The capacity of an ecosystem to respond to disturbances by resisting damage and recovering quickly.

Daily, National Wildlife Federation staff work to support resilience projects that will lead to the health and longevity of wildlife populations and native habitat. During these unprecedented times we want to acknowledge that we too are resilient – you the teachers, students, parents and all members of the school community – together we will respond and prevail.

For schools actively planning to receive an award this spring 2020, reach out to our team for further guidance and support. Together, we will work out a plan that best meets your needs. All awards celebrations should be postponed and planned upon return to campus. Contact us:

As you continue to stay apprised of your state’s and community’s response, please know the resources below and those that we share on our social media channels, (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ecoschoolsusa) are for you to modify as you see fit. Whether it’s for your own personal family or virtual classroom instruction, please feel free to use what works for you today and save the rest for another more appropriate time.

We are in this together,

The Eco-Schools USA Team

In This Edition

  • Earth Day
  • Pathway Focus: Schoolyard Habitats® 
  • Conducting Citizen Science From Home
  • NAAEE-Crowdsourcing for the Virtual Classroom
  • Learn About Wildlife
  • Green Grants and Opportunities

Earth Day

We will be celebrating Earth Day 50 a little differently this year, but that’s okay, because Earth Day is every day. Read National Wildlife® magazine’s article observing 50 years of enduring stewardship for the plant.

In addition to our look back at Earth Day past, Eco-Schools USA, the Project WET Foundation and Project WILD collaborated on an Earth Day 50 climate change education teacher professional development aimed at those serving middle and high school students. This PD is also a good fit for those who help develop our next generation educators and K-12 education partners. Learn more about the course and register here.

Pathway Focus | Schoolyard Habitats®

Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

It’s officially spring, and we recognize that many schools across the country are closed at this time. One bright spot – seeing all the blooming gardens on social media! These photos demonstrate the results of students and educators hard work over past months to redesign school grounds to increase habitat and create a vibrant space for outdoor learning. Some schools have taken a barren urban area and transformed it into a pollinator-friendly space using raised beds. Others have designed and planted food gardens to use to teach students about sustainable foods. We are excited to share that there are currently over 9,000 schools that have certified their Schoolyard Habitat® through the National Wildlife Federation!

During the month of April, we invite you to explore the Schoolyard Habitats Pathway and grade-banded pathway audits online. Teachers can use these to plan for future outdoor learning experiences when it is safe to do so. Get familiar with data that needs to be collected for the audit. Explore the new Spanish language resources available on the National Wildlife Federation Garden for Wildlife site, including tips and fact sheets related to pollinator gardens and milkweed. Be sure to read the latest blog which includes timely tips for backyard gardening and how to safely source the seeds and supplies while practicing social distancing.

Each month we also connect the Eco-Schools USA pathways to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This month, take a few minutes to read about Global Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities and learn why they matter. Formulate questions as to why shared public spaces are important and how students can connect the Global Goals to their local community.

Throughout the month, learn more about the Schoolyard Habitats Pathway and Global Goal 11 by following @EcoSchoolsUSA on social media. If maintaining the garden while school is out, share your photos by tagging us on social media. #EcoSchoolsUSA

Learn More!

Conducting Citizen Science From Home

Our friends at SciStarter define citizen science as “the public involvement in inquiry and discovery of new scientific knowledge.” If you aren’t familiar with the organization, their mission includes connecting people with scientists, and allowing non-scientists of all ages to make contributions to science through both formal research and informal activities. April is Citizen Science Month, a time to virtually join with collaborators around the world to promote and celebrate citizen science from home. Explore resources on the SciStarter website and find ways to contribute and connect with like-minded people. Use the Project Finder to filter for projects to do while at home or online, and for specific age groups. Check out these 7 helpful ideas to celebrate Citizen Science Month from home, which include hosting an online watch party or sharing a Citizen Science tutorial.

NAAEE-Crowdsourcing for the Virtual Classroom

The NAAEE staff have been putting their collective knowledge together to make a list of websites and resources to help support families and educators during school closures.

Feel free to add resources and links to this growing list and share it widely. Please add appropriate grade level/band if you post a resource. Also note, NAAEE is working to categorize the current resource list by grade band.

Learn About Wildlife

50 Ways to Love the Earth

Ranger Rick® Magazine is also celebrating Earth Day with a colorful online spread in the April edition. Together, parents and kids can read 50 Ways to Love the Earth and learn about four major challenges facing our planet today—disappearing habitat, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. Then use the list of 50 items to discuss actions that can be taken from home to help counter these challenges. Additionally, students and families can make a pledge to act for Earth Day and beyond without ever leaving the house. For the next few months, all digital editions of Ranger Rick® magazine are now free to the public.

Green Opportunities and Grants

Professional Development