Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has established a formal partnership with the National Wildlife Federationâ€™s Eco-Schools USA and Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats programs to promote environmental education and action across disciplines in grades preK-12.
The partnership, titled FCPS Get2Green, focuses on promoting environmental stewardship via student-driven programs.
The Eco-Schools USA program is based on student-driven teams that work on issues such as Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats, recycling, composting, energy conservation, and other environmental and health-related topics. It also provides sample materials, curricula, and background information online and personnel who can provide expertise to teachers via professional development.
As part of the program, the National Wildlife Federation is connecting FCPS with other school districts nationwide that are participating in similar projects; the organization will also help with assessment of environmental education activities.
Since National Wildlife Federation was named the stateside host for the Eco-Schools program in 2008, more than 840 schools have joined the effort. Virginia alone has 82 registered Eco-Schools, including Lanier Middle School, which was awarded the stateâ€™s first Eco-Schools USA Green Flag — just the second American public school so honored — in 2011.
Currently, approximately 40 FCPS schools are involved in the Eco-Schools USA process and 37 schools are engaged in the Schoolyard Habitats program. Student teams are building wildlife habitats and edible gardens, doing energy audits in their schools and promoting energy conservation, creating composting programs to reduce cafeteria waste, and setting up whole-school recycling programs.
Langley High School students have created a pilot program for all FCPS high schools to recycle on their athletic fields. An additional 30 to 40 schools are seeking technical assistance so they can get involved with the program.
FCPS is dedicating system-wide resources to the Get2Green initiative. The Instructional Services Department has staff members available to work with schools interested in developing environmental projects, and has created and implemented professional development opportunities for teachers and staff members.
Staff members from energy management, grounds and maintenance, food and nutrition services, and design and construction are providing resources to schools that are actively pursuing environmental education. A group of principals meets quarterly to provide administrators with information on how to promote environmental stewardship and keep them up to date on available resources.
In addition to the National Wildlife Federation, Get2Green is also supported by federal, state, and county agencies, environmental nonprofit organizations, and Audubon organizations that provide expertise and materials that support student projects.