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Green Schools Programs

Originally appears in the Fall 2010 issue

What do you remember from your own school days? Rows of desks, stacks of worksheets, lunch trays piled with tater tots? The well-worn grass on the playground and a line of rumbling yellow school buses at the end of the day?

As you know, many of these classic memories are changing with the times. Instead of seated at desks to work on math problems, students might be walking the halls with clipboards, collecting and analyzing data about energy usage. In front of the school, perhaps a “No Idling” sign reminds bus drivers and parents to keep the air clean by turning off their engines, while dozens of bikes await their riders in a bicycle rack nearby. You might spot student-drawn posters above the recycling area to help everyone sort paper, bottles, and cans into the appropriate bins. Or, in the cafeteria, you might find a salad bar stocked with greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers from the school’s garden. Out on the grounds, grass and asphalt may have disappeared, replaced by native plants that attract birds and butterflies and provide a place for hands-on science lessons about adaptations, food webs, and other key concepts.

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Kate Hofmann is a writer and editor for the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program and Ranger Rick magazine and lives in Traverse City, Michigan.