Green Schools Program
TDEC’s Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices houses the Environmental Education Initiative (EEI). In 2018-2019, EEI offered composting training and equipment to schools throughout Tennessee. Based on that success, EEI is expanding its offerings to schools to include additional resources and opportunities to promote “Green Schools”.
Under the Green Schools Program, EEI will offer radon education and scholarships for radon training for school facility maintenance staff, green team development, free professional development through Project Learning Tree (PLT) workshops, composting training and equipment, food waste reduction training (Get Food Smart TN), and education/activities related to general sustainability, school and home gardening, and pollinator health/pollinator gardens. Participating schools will identify a designated “green team”, including both teachers and leadership, to support the program. School facility maintenance staff will also participate in a brief radon informational training and have the opportunity to attend certified radon trainings for measurement and mitigation at no cost. In addition, schools can elect to participate in two of the elective programs listed below.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soils. Radon gas is tasteless, colorless and odorless. The only way to know if it is in your school is to test for it. Tennessee does have higher than the national average of radon. No matter where you live in Tennessee, there is the potential for radon to enter your home, school, office, etc.
Composting is the accelerated biological decomposition of organic (carbon-based) solid waste under managed aerobic conditions resulting in a stabilized product that can be used as a soil additive, fertilizer, growth media or other beneficial use.
Schools that select this option will engage in diverting food waste through composting. OPSP-EEI provides student and teacher training, composters, and curricula. Schools report their metrics, usually pounds of food composted, and have the opportunity to engage in other activities, such as Get Food Smart TN and share tables to further promote sustainability.
- It conserves energy and natural resources.
- It can be used to improve the much-needed topsoil.
- It can reduce landfill space and the production of methane.
Get Food Smart TN promotes using food wisely and enhancing the sustainability of Tennessee’s food resources. Schools that select this option will receive education about food waste and a customized strategy for preventing it!
Food waste is an environmental, economic, and social issue. In the U.S. 40 percent of the food produced goes uneaten and sent to the landfill and $218 billion is spent on growing, processing, transporting, and disposing on food that is never eaten. The majority of this food waste is still good for consumption and could be given to those who are food insecure. In Tennessee, 1 in 7 Tennesseans are food insecure.
School food gardens are beneficial to students, as they provide hands-on learning opportunities for multiple subjects. Students can see small-scale agricultural practices, learn about biological processes, and practice environmental stewardship - all while also being introduced to healthy food options. Studies have shown that garden-enhanced nutrition education can significantly increase children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is extremely important, because according to a state health “scorecard” released by The Commonwealth Fund, a private health care foundation, 38% of Tennessee kids are either overweight or obese — a higher rate than all other states and Washington, D.C. The national average was 31 percent.
Schools that select this option will receive education and information on best practices for school gardens in Tennessee, as well as a personalized gardening strategy. This will include a recommendation for where to place a garden (if one is not already present), and what should be grown in the garden based on the school's needs/wants.
Pollinator health is critical to Tennessee's agricultural, environmental, and ecological health. These tiny insects open the door to discuss a myriad of topics including biological processes, insect anatomy and physiology, plant/flower anatomy, and environmental stewardship.
Schools that select this option will receive education on how to start and maintain a pollinator garden and a recommendation on where to put a pollinator garden if one is not already present. Participating schools will also get an individualized recommendation for what to plant based on zone and soil type.
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. PLT is a multi-disciplinary, hands-on set of lessons for all grade levels that allow teachers of all subjects to incorporate the environment into their classrooms. PLT is correlated to Common Core Standards as well as Next Gen Science Standards.
Schools that select this option will receive a 6 hour workshop, which qualifies for professional development hours, for interested teachers. The teachers/educators who complete the workshop will get a PLT book for free.
According to the dictionary, sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Everyone can do something to pursue more sustainable and resilient living. It’s important to engage in conservation so that future generations can enjoy natural resources and quality of life.
Schools that select this option will be given general education about sustainability (waste management, water usage, energy conservation, etc.), as well as an individualized sustainability strategy.
Schools Currently Participating:
Big Ridge Elementary School
Chester County High School
Paulette Elementary School
Summertown Elementary School
Wright Middle School
Resources for Teachers:
- Reducing Food Waste
- Green Teams
Share Table at Clay County High School
Interactive Activity at Moses McKissack Middle School
Student Training at Big Ridge Elementary School
This Page Last Updated: September 9, 2021 at 9:33 AM