Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sorry Kermit, it is easy being Green - Blog from USDE on MAEOE Green Schools Tour

Wonderful article from Andrea Falken, Director of USDE Green Ribbon Schools on the MAEOE Green Schools Tour on December 12, 2011.

Article posted December 20, 2011 to

Sorry, Kermit — It Can Be Easy Being Green

As Director of the new Green Ribbon Schools program, I have visited a lot of Green Schools. I have been thrilled by geothermal heating and cooling systems; intrigued by water retention ponds and cisterns; and delighted by practical yet attractive recycled building materials. But I’ve also been impressed by schools that have “gone green” through sheer ingenuity. My visits to schools that look like any other reinforce our understanding that any school, no matter its resources or location, can take relatively simple steps toward the goals of the Green Ribbon Schools recognition award.

Every school can become a green school by making progress in the areas of: 1) environmental impact and energy efficiency; 2) health and wellness; and 3) environmental literacy. So what does a green school look like? Don’t be fooled by ordinary appearances. What sets apart a green school requires a look inside, where enterprising school administrators, teachers and community members lead enthusiastic students toward change.

In a green school, the community might help with the construction of a simple outdoor amphitheater that serves as an open air classroom. A green school can start a recycling program that encourages communities without district waste management programs to bring their recyclables to school for collection. Or recognize quarterly the class with the highest number of students commuting by a means other than their parents’ cars. Administrators can engage community volunteers to help students plan and maintain school gardens. They can adopt a no cupcake policy and offer students healthy birthday reward alternatives, such as additional recess. They might ask students to “trash the trash” with reusable lunchware. A good-humored principal might don his Mr. Banana costume – and check his self-esteem at the door – all in the name of teaching young scholars good nutrition.

At the high school level, a motivated environmental science teacher could have a huge impact, using an aquaponic garden to teach the nitrogen cycle in biology, horticulture and other environmental science classes. Students might develop not only science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills through their projects, but also develop civic skills. Students could use the profits from the plants they grow and sell to improve the schools’ environmental impact and cost savings. The teacher might organize an annual clean-up in nearby woodlands, highways or trails and garner local organizations’ sponsorship and collaboration. The green high school’s environmental club can help the school transition to compact fluorescent bulbs and task lighting, reducing the energy consumption of classrooms, and to implement a recycling program.
These are all real-life examples from visits not far from the U.S. Department of Education’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, but efforts such as these are being implemented all across the country. Every school that takes these simple steps can save energy, reduce costs, increase health and wellness, and offer effective environmental education. These schools are proving that it’s easier than you think being green.

Read more about the Green Ribbon Program at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MAEOE Green School Tour

On Monday, December 12, 2011 MAEOE was pleased to host Andrea Falken from USDE Green Ribbon Schools and Kim Martinez from National Wildlife Federation on a MAEOE Green Schools Tour! The tour consisted of Bond Mill ES, Friends Community School and Northwood High School. The tour was a great snapshot of the MAEOE Green School Certification and the wonderful actions in place. Read some of the snapshot projects going on at each of the three schools toured:

Bond Mill Elementary School
· School hosts a Beautification Day each Spring where each child brings a plant or tree to be planted on the school grounds. The PTO provides mulch, extra plants and assistance on the planting day.
· Green Shoe Program – each day, teachers take attendance and track how many students got to school NOT by means of a car or bus and the classroom with the highest non-motorized attendance wins the ‘golden shoe’ to keep in the class for the quarter. There are 2 shoes, one for K, 1, 2 and a second for 3, 4, 5 grades
· Alliance for a healthier generation – the school nurse took the BMIs for all students and found that 39% of students were nationally ranked as obese – as a result, the school has banned cupcakes and offers alternative options for birthday celebrations such as extra recess for children whose Birthday falls in that month.
· Partnership with a local diner – every family receives a card and when they order off the healthy menu at the diner, 20% of profits go to the school - $900 so far this year!
· Partnership with Kohl’s Department Store – each month, a team of Kohl’s employees volunteer at the school to help with an environmentally based project and $500 is donated to the school.

Friends Community School
· LEED Silver Building with straw bale insulation and a green roof on 17 acres
o Solar tubes which mirror natural light from the roof
o Green Roof
o Carpet tiles made with all green materials and no need to replace the whole carpet, just worn tiles
o 96% efficient boilers and radiant heaters
o All lights are on motion sensors
· The school celebrates Earth Week, not just one day and place the week’s worth of trash on the front steps. This direct, in your face approach resulted in an immediate increase in recycling.
· Runoff control in a bio-retention pond
· Each classroom has a garden as well as a butterfly garden and salad garden
· Integrated Pest Management Plan to control a tick problem on the school’s campus
o Deer feeders treated with all natural tick repellant
o Garlic sprinkling along wetland borders on the school’s campus

Northwood High School
· Rain Gardens and Pervious Pavers around the School Stadium and at the front entrance
· Native Tree Plantings and Spring plantings of fruits and vegetables on the school grounds
· Aquaponic plants in the school greenhouse which grow herbs and raise goldfish
· Forest cleanup and trail building on 15 acres of the school
o Run by students and community volunteers
o Potomac Appalachian Club designed the trail
o Removed more than 10,000lbs of trash

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Projects WET, WILD, and Learning Tree Facilitator Training

Sponsored by:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources – Chesapeake & Coastal Service/Wildlife Service

Towson University

Claud E. Kitchens Outdoor School at Fairview

February 24-26, 2012 @

Claud E. Kitchens Outdoor School at Fairview

Washington County Public Schools

Maryland Certified Teachers can earn 1 MSDE Professional Development Credit

$60 Registration Fee includes food, lodging, and workshop materials

Need more information? Contact:
Cindy Etgen
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Chesapeake and Coastal Service
Aquatic Resources Education Section Chief
580 Taylor Avenue
Tawes E-2
Annapolis, Maryland21401

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wetland Eduction Oppertunities

Registration closing today at 4pm! Register Today and Save $5 off 'POW! The Planning of Wetlands' held Fri. Dec. 16th.

POW! The Planning of Wetlands

Learn the step by step process for creating or enhancing a wetland on school grounds or within the community. POW!

guides you through wetland design and construction with activities that allow students to participate in designing,

preparing, and monitoring a schoolyard wetland, and utilizing the habitat as an outdoor extension to the classroom.

Suitable for K-12 formal and non-formal educators.

When: Friday, December 16, 2011 9am-4pm

Where: Wetland Learning Center, Environmental Concern, 201 Boundary Lane, St. Michaels, MD

Cost: $45 per person, including the POW curriculum guide $40 if registering by phone or email by Friday Dec 9th at 4pm.

To register: Call 410-745-9620 or visit

For more information contact: Susan Sanger at 410-745-9620

Is your school seeking Green School Certification? Environmental Concern’s wetland workshops can be used to help you get towards your goal of becoming a Maryland Green School!

Attention Talbot County, Maryland teachers: This workshop is offered to you for FREE!! Call or email for more details!

Also being offered (Sorry no discount) :

WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands

Join Environmental Concern at our Wetland Learning Center for this day-long workshop overlooking the beautiful San Domingo Creek. Come experience the Wonders of Wetlands while learning about basic wetland ecology, including soil, water & plants, as well as wetland functions & values through fun and interactive activities in lesson plan format. Suitable for K-12 formal and non-formal educators.

When: Thursday, December 15, 2011 9am-4pm

Where: Wetland Learning Center, Environmental Concern, 201 Boundary Lane, St. Michaels, MD

Cost: $30 per person, including the WOW curriculum guide

To register: Call 410-745-9620 or visit

For more information contact: Susan Sanger at 410-745-9620

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MSDE announces Federal Green Ribbon program and recognizes MAEOEs role in environmental education

In a press release on December 5, 2011, Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) announced that they are joining the new, National Green Ribbon Schools Program launched recently by the U.S. Department of Education. As a result, MSDE is begun a statewide search for outstanding environmental schools. Maryland currently has 398 certified MAEOE Green Schools and 32 Green Centers. These schools and centers have achieved recognition by using the environment as a context for learning, demonstrating best management practices and by establishing partnerships with community partners. The recent press release quoted Maryland as having “developed a national reputation as an environmental education leader.” MSDE plans to release applications for schools to receive National Recognition through this program in mid-December and the application deadline is February 27, 2012. MSDE will nominate up to four schools to the U.S. Department of Education for Green Ribbon Recognition. At least one nominee will be from a public school with at least a 40 percent economically disadvantaged population, and at least one will be a private school. Honorees will be announced next April.

To read the full press release:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Conference exhibit space

Invitation to Exhibit

The annual MAEOE Conference is the largest state environmental education conference in the nation

and the only conference of its kind in the State of Maryland. This is a perfect opportunity to showcase

your products and services to key industry professionals. Exhibitors of environmental/outdoor education

and/or environmentally themed products and resources are invited and encouraged to participate. This

conference has historically attracted over 500+ attendees. Participants include formal and non‐formal

educators, government agency representatives, and education administrators.

The MAEOE Conference exhibits have become a popular and rewarding tradition for both attendees and

exhibitors. A special "Exhibit Activity” is planned for Friday, February 10th to encourage all participants

to visit each booth. In the past several years, booth space has become competitive due to a high

percentage of exhibitors returning, so early registration is an advantage.

Exhibitors should register by January 4, 2012 in order to have their contact

information printed in the conference program.


Please register online at

Exhibit space is not confirmed until online registration is received.

No registrations will be taken after February 3, 2012. for full details

Direct all questions regarding exhibitor registration for the 2012 MAEOE Conference to:

Sheila Welton