Join Us for Living School Grounds on the 2018 Green Strides Tour in Missouri

It’s my favorite time of the year again:  Green Strides Tour season!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoors physical activity; and environmental education.  As part of its Green Strides outreach, the Department conducts an annual tour of past honorees.  This year, the Green Strides Tour will reach its twentieth state, Missouri, on October 24 and 25, and spotlight ED-GRS honorees’ use of Living School Grounds.

We’ll see green schools’ features and practices from all three of what have become known as the ‘Pillars’ of the award in which these school sites have documented gains.  However, this year’s tour will bring particular attention to how schools can use their school grounds that include gardens, habitats, nature trails and wetlands to engage with not only science, math, nutrition and agriculture, but also art, literature and social studies.  Through their hands-on, project-based learning, and citizen science on school grounds, students also discover the joys of physical activity in the outdoors, as well as the benefits of nutritious, school-garden grown produce.  The use of green schoolyards, along with other sustainable infrastructure and practices, helps students deepen their understanding of the natural world and their connection to it, fostering stewardship values that will permit them to preserve our nation’s most precious resources for years to come.

A photo of a group of elementary school students standing in a rain garden. The student in front is holding a white butterfly net.

At Keysor Elementary School, in Kirkwood, Missouri, students tag Monarch Butterflies in their rain garden. With over half of green space on campus dedicated to actively stewarded water-efficient and regionally appropriate landscape plantings, an increase in animal and insect species has been recorded. The school grounds provide real-world examples of habitat preservation, landscape maintenance, nutritional well-being, social engagement, and creativity.

Looking back over four iterations of the tour, we’ve seen a green school or two, and gotten a little dirty along the way!  In 2013, with an “Education Built to Last” tour, we visited 11 states to engage in 40 events; spanning Alabama, New England, New York and New Jersey, California, Oregon and Washington, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC.   In 2014, we focused on “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students” during an additional 46 events in 6 states, including Boulder and Fort Collins, CO; Palm Beach and Broward, FL; West Virginia and Kentucky; Prior Lake Savage and Waconia, MN and Maryland.

A photo of three girls standing to the right, two of them holding chickens, and on to the left of a wooden shed that is inside a chicken pen. On the steps leading into the shed is a poster board with several printed slides. The poster board is titled Chicken: Farm to Table. A chicken is standing on the ground in front of the steps.

At Flagstone Elementary School, in Castle Rock, Colorado student presenters share different aspects of their school sustainability efforts on the 2014 “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students” Green Strides Tour.

Those two tour seasons were whirlwinds!  As budgets have become slimmer and my own family has grown, we’ve begun focusing our efforts on highlighting sustainable schools practices in a single state each year.  In 2016, we toured Pennsylvania for some lessons in “Real-World Learning” and then, in 2017, we had the chance to “Take Learning Outside” in Georgia.

This year, we’re excited to showcase some of the ED-GRS public and private school honorees in the St. Louis area according to the following schedule.

 

Wednesday, October 24
8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. Bellerive Elementary School, 620 Rue de Fleur Dr., Creve Coeur
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. McKelvey Elementary School, 1751 McKelvey Rd., Maryland Heights
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Green Trails Elementary School, 170 Portico Dr., Chesterfield
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. The College School, 7825 Big Bend Blvd., St. Louis
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School, 7539 Manchester Rd., Maplewood
4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Reception and Discussion Panel, 7539 Manchester Rd., Maplewood

 

Thursday, October 25
8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.  W. W. Keysor Elementary, 725 N Geyer Rd., Kirkwood
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. St. Louis University High School, 4970 Oakland Ave., St. Louis
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Crossroads College Preparatory School, 500 DeBaliviere Ave., St. Louis
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Parkway North High School, 12860 Fee Fee Rd., St. Louis

 

We hope you will join us (all are welcome!) and take home some lessons to make your own school community more sustainable.

Register to participate here.

 

Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and ED’s Facilities, Health, Environment Liaison. 

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