Green Schools Program Overview
Once I started seeing the obvious enthusiasm for environmental topics with my students and the other staff, I was hooked. This is the first time I have seen my students get so involved and committed to work for a common goal.
– Barbara Abell, principal, Mechanicsville Elementary, St. Mary’s County
Founded in 1999, the Maryland Green Schools Program (MDGS) is a sustainable schools program. As MAEOE’s signature program, MDGS is nationally recognized as having significant impact with students and schools. The program provides educational opportunities for preK-12 schools that promote responsible environmental stewardship practices and increase awareness of how our relationship with the environment ultimately impacts public health and society.
The program is aligned with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement 2014 goals and supports Maryland State Department of Education graduation requirements and standards. At the 4th Annual Youth Summit Maryland’s Governor O’Malley, charged the participants saying “…what an awesome responsibility we have to pass [the Chesapeake Watershed] on to the next generation” (DNR Press Release 2013).
There are currently 560 Green Schools or 25% of approximately 2200 public and independent schools with 1 million Pre K-12 students. These school communities represent a significant opportunity to maintain and improve environmental sustainability, with over 125 Million square feet of building space and grounds covering thousands of acres.
Maryland Green Schools as a Sustainable Schools Solution
The Program’s goals are to enrich education by integrating hands-on, inquiry-based instruction, to empower youth to practically apply knowledge at school, home and in their communities that reduce ecological impact and encourage sustainable practices. As schools re-certify every four years, they continue to integrate and reinforce the lessons, resulting in progress toward a more sustainable future. Green School objectives include:
- Environmental issue instruction
- Professional development
- School-wide environmental behavior changes
- Celebration of green practices
- Responsible transportation & reduced emissions
- Healthy living & learning environments
- Water conservation & pollution reduction
- Energy conservation
- Structures for environmental learning
- Habitat restoration
- Solid waste reduction
- Community partnerships
The Maryland Green School award program provides statewide and local county/city recognition, and is supported by the network of Green Centers and partners. All Maryland schools Pre K-12, public and independent are eligible to apply.