Head Back to School With the New EcoSchools!

Just as students get excited watching the metamorphosis of a butterfly from an egg to an adult, the National Wildlife Federation’s K-12 education team is bursting with enthusiasm and excitement as we get ready to begin a new school year with a re-designed EcoSchools U.S. program! Over the past three months, we have been sharing the news about the changes coming to the program and working hard behind the scenes. Join us as we return to school with an all-new website, certification platform, and programming with special thanks to EcoSchools Canada for their guidance and support. Keep reading to learn more about the exciting changes we have in store for the new school year!

Since 2008, when the National Wildlife Federation was first granted host status of the EcoSchools program in the United States, students and educators from over 6,000 schools have joined a global movement made up of millions of environmental leaders engaging in project and place-based learning through the international EcoSchools program overseen by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We are moving into the 2023-24 school year with a renewed statement of purpose where we “collaborate with communities to provide K-12 education that is responsive to and supports leadership and equitable solutions to collectively build a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action.”

What’s New For the 2023-2024 School Year

So, what can educators expect from the new EcoSchools U.S. program? At the start, we expect the refreshed program to bring greater flexibility, more meaningful and impactful programming, and ease of use! This includes a streamlined website experience that makes it easier to find important program information. Start by reviewing the Framework and new program themes, the two integral tools that lay the foundation for a strong EcoSchools program and will be embedded into the work of student-based action teams!

Next, after September 1st, we invite new and current EcoSchools to explore the EcoSchools Certification Application (ECA)—this was formerly known as the dashboard. It’s home to the Action Card Library, school achievements, and eventually, impact metrics! It’s where student-led teams will create action plans that center equitable nature-based solutions to address local issues and connect with the global Sustainable Development Goals. Each year brings a new opportunity for schools to earn certification at the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Green Flag level!

Action Cards fall under three new themes that work in tandem with the strategic priorities of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF): Wildlife and Biodiversity, Climate, and Healthy and Resilient Communities. Topics vary, from Active and Sustainable Transport and Single-Use Plastics to Water Quality Testing and Restoring Biodiversity Balance in the Schoolyard! There’s even an opportunity to ‘Create Your Own’ unique and innovative action cards. Once data is collected, the ECA will be home to detailed metrics reflecting a school’s impact over time, along with certifications received along the way. Students will also have opportunities to participate in timely campaigns like the Clean Earth Challenge.

Registration opens September 1, 2023—in the meantime, get familiar with all aspects of the ECA by checking out the Schools Resources page and the FAQ portion of the EcoSchools U.S. website.

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We are excited to see our new vision come to life and look forward to “collaborating with school communities in creating resilient, just communities for people and wildlife to thrive!”