Since the earliest beginnings of PLT GreenSchools!, we have been fortunate to partner with the U.S. Forest Service’s Conservation Education Program in our work to help students, teachers and schools make their schools and communities greener.
This year, the Forest Service has boosted its support of the GreenSchools! program, sponsoring a series of trainings in conjunction with regional Forest Service offices in seven states. These trainings are bringing together PLT GreenSchools! staff, state PLT coordinators, students and faculty from selected PLT GreenSchools!, staff from the Forest Service’s Washington, D.C., Conservation Education Program, and regional USFS personnel.
Forest Service Regional Offices Develop Stronger Ties with Schools in their Communities
The USFS Conservation Education Program provided eight $10,000 grants to schools in California, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming to help expand the GreenSchools! network throughout the Forest Service’s nationwide regions. Forest Service regions worked with local schools to submit proposals detailing how their schools would use the grant money to support student-led GreenSchools! action projects to help their schools lessen their environmental impact.
“The Forest Service is proud to partner with Project Learning Tree on the GreenSchools! program,”says Vicki Arthur, Conservation Education Specialist for USFS in Washington, D.C. “With these new grants, we’re training Forest Service contacts, students, and teachers to help spread the GreenSchools! program in our nine Forest Service regions.”
The GreenSchools! program also ties in well with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farms to Schools and Know Your Farmer/Know Your Food programs. “School gardens have been a very popular action project for many of our GreenSchools!, with schools growing their own vegetables and learning about healthy eating,” Vicki notes. “Our GreenSchools! with school gardens are included on the Compass map on the ‘Know Your Farmer’ program website.”
GreenSchools! Trainings in Seven States
In October, training sessions were held in Vallejo, California, and Jackson, Wyoming. The California training paired the USFS Southwest regional office, based in Vallejo, with students and faculty from the newly established Green Academy at Vallejo’s Jesse Bethel High School and four feeder schools. The training has already increased visibility for PLT GreenSchools! in the region, garnering positive news stories in the local newspaper, the Vallejo Times-Herald.
The Green Academy is a perfect fit for the PLT GreenSchools! program. It was established for eco-oriented students who love the outdoors and want to do their part to protect the environment. The school’s curriculum is designed to prepare students for careers as naturalists, environmental scientists, energy auditors, wildlife managers, marine biologists, environmental engineers, and solar or wind energy technicians.
“I’m looking forward to using this opportunity to help the Forest Service develop relationships with the community,” says Tim Williams, Conservation Education Coordinator with the USFS Pacific Southwest Region headquarters in Vallejo. Among other activities, “I’ll be involving some of the other professionals from the office in talking to the students about environmental careers.”
During the coming months, national USFS and PLT staff will join regional office staff to conduct training sessions in Hawaii, Texas, Michigan, Utah and Kansas.
We’re grateful for this new infusion of support from USFS, which builds on our already strong partnership with the Forest Service. Watch future blogs for more information on the action projects that come out of these trainings.
Photos courtesy of Jesse Bethel Green Academy.