Green Schools are recognized as those that use their school site and instruction to teach students about environmental challenges facing Marylanders. They model environmental best management practices in building and landscape design, maintenance and operations. These schools work with community partners to enhance environmental learning, as well as design and implement projects that result in a healthier environment. All of these schools have worked very hard to become Green Schools. CCPS supports the Green School Program and all schools are encouraged to apply. Many school communities incorporate student service learning into their Green School projects and applicants often improve their school yard to provide habitat for native plants and animals, as well as reduce run off into our local waterways.
What is a schoolyard habitat?
A schoolyard habitat is a diverse landscape, including wetlands, forests and meadows that offers so much more than the typical barren, blacktopped school grounds. The habitat provides opportunity for formal and informal learning. Students involved in the planning, implementing and study of habitat will build skills in all disciplines. Research has shown that students involved in these types of projects have less discipline problems, a greater sense of community and improved academic achievement (see State Education and Environment Roundtable Executive Report at http://www.seer.org. Working to upgrade habitat in schoolyards provides many benefits. Given the large parcels of land on which schools are found, decreasing the amount of impervious surfaces and increasing the buffer zones can greatly improve water quality in our local waterways. Doing so with habitat improvement in mind greatly increases the positive impact local schools have on our natural resources. By allowing students the opportunity to turn their school grounds into a living laboratory, we offer them the chance to learn about best practices and the impact that individuals and groups can have on improving the world around them. This allows them to imagine a different future in which they see themselves as part of nature as opposed to something they observe from the outside or that must be “controlled”.
- http://www.fws.gov/cno/pdf/HabitatGuideColor.pdf U.S.Fish and Wildlife has put together this invaluable tool for use in planning school yard habitat projects.
- http://www.ecoschools.com/Wildlife/Wildlife_wSidebar.html – Resources for Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats from around the world
- https://cbtrust.org/ The Chesapeake Bay Trust. Easy to write grants. These folks love grants written by kids! Check out the mini-grants and environmental education links.
- https://maeoe.org/environmental-literacy/school-grounds-for-learning Environmental education information specific to Maryland.