Maryland Green School Program Grows to 680 Schools
Students and Teachers Continue Sustainability Efforts Despite COVID-19 Challenges
34% of Maryland Schools Participating
Baltimore, MD – Today, the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) announced that the number of Maryland Green Schools grew to 680 during the 2021/22 academic year, representing 34% of all schools in the state and an addition of 16 new schools. Of note, 166 schools submitted applications despite Covid-19 challenges, 84 schools recertified their Maryland Green School status and 40 schools achieved “sustainable” Maryland Green Schools status for participation in the program for 14 years. MAEOE also announced that one new Green Center joined their network of 40+ organizations supporting Green Schools.
“As young people are increasingly aware of climate change, we are inspired by their commitment to action and resolve to do their part to find solutions,” said Laura Johnson Collard, MAEOE executive director. “MAEOE welcomes the 16 new Maryland Green Schools and looks forward to seeing the students share their passion for the environment with their families and friends. As influencers, they can encourage others to recycle, plant vegetables and native plants and be more mindful of simple steps like turning off unnecessary lights.”
While schools returned to in-person classes in September 2021, extracurricular activities were limited during the first half of the year. Due to Covid-19 health precautions, partners and volunteers could not support teachers on site with environmental education and sustainable school actions such as school gardens, installations of projects and composting in the cafeteria. Despite these challenges, teachers and students continued with school greening efforts.
The 2021/22 Maryland Green Schools have achieved remarkable environmental accomplishments, including saving 900,898 gallons of water; reducing energy use by 2,018,335 Kwh; preventing waste from going to a landfill by recycling 1,102,854 lbs of material; creating lbs; 217,847 square feet of natural habitat; planting 7,989 native plants, including shrubs and trees; and cleaning 17,625 feet of streambanks to protect water quality.
Proponents of outdoor learning see long-term benefits resulting from Covid-19 prevention strategies, including more class time outdoors and time outside to refresh classroom air. Maryland Green Schools installed 150 new outdoor classrooms, and their teachers and students used the outdoor classroom 501 times.
“Our Maryland Green Schools are using the school grounds as an extension of the classroom, particularly as the CDC urges us to spend time outside of buildings to stay healthy,” said Collard. “Maryland Green Schools communities, including teachers, staff and students, work to create a healthy and sustainable environment for everyone. Our students learn to care about the environment and make a positive impact.”