The U.S. Department of Education has recognized three Florida schools for their environmental efforts. Learning Gate Community School in Hillsborough County, Pine Jog Elementary School in Palm Beach County, and TERRA Environmental Research Institute in Miami-Dade County were named 2012 Green Ribbon Schools.
Receiving the national recognition was no easy feat. These schools had to show a commitment to reduce environmental impacts and improve the health and academic performance of students and staff. They also must be working to increase the number of graduates schooled in sustaining a healthy environment.
“The Sunshine State has a rich and diverse ecosystem that provides a unique setting for students to learn about the environment and their natural surroundings,” said Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. “Florida is well-represented for our commitment to cultivating an environmentally sustainable learning atmosphere and I appreciate the devotion of the administrators, teachers, parents and students that made this national recognition possible.”
In all, 78 schools in 29 states were given the green ribbon moniker. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the honorees at a school in Washington, D.C. More than 100 schools were nominated by 30 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education. The winners include 66 public and 12 private schools in both urban and rural communities.
The Green Ribbon Schools Award Program was established this year to recognize schools showing exemplary achievement in environmental impact, health and education. The program advances the goals of environmental stewardship like cutting energy costs, fostering academic achievement that includes health and wellness, and increasing STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) while preparing students for college and careers.
On the state level, Florida has been recognizing students, teachers, schools and districts through the Florida Green School Awards since 2008. Applications for the new 2011-2012 Florida Green School Awards are now being accepted.