10 Leading Eco-Schools Changing How America’s Youth Learns

From coast to coast, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has taken a close look at some of the nation’s most environmentally minded schools. The NWF has crowned their top 10 eco-schools for “their commitment to wildlife protection, sustainability and environmental education.”

These leading eco-schools are expanding their environmental curriculum to change the way kids learn to live and thereby shape America’s future. Eco-schools are reducing their energy consumption with solar power, cultivating their own food, recycling, composting and actively engaging in water conservation. They aim for self-sufficiency and habitat conservation, which may set the standard in our emerging world.

The leading eco-schools in the country were ranked on three key green factors.

  • Commitment to environmental education.
  • The community’s commitment to making the school more sustainable.
  • Creating a wildlife friendly school environment. 

Here are the leading eco-schools you should take notice of. They may be the future of learning, community and our relationship to nature.

  • Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Alder Ave Middle School, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.
  • Brooklyn New School, PS 146, New York, New York.
  • Centreville Elementary School, Centreville, Virginia.
  • EARTHS Magnet School, Newbury Park, California.
  • Eisenhower High School, Goddard, Kansas.
  • Green Tech Academy at Clint Small Middle School, Austin, Texas.
  • Heritage Elementary School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
  • J.C. Parks Elementary School, Indian Head, Maryland.
  • Jitta Bug Learning Center, North Miami, Florida.

School districts that are struggling with funding can take note of the eco-school design. “These schools are creating outdoor living laboratories and habitat on their grounds, reducing energy and water use, and improving recycling — all of which provide opportunities for students and save money for school districts,” Collin O’Mara, NWF president said in recent reports.

“But what these schools show us is that you don’t have to wait for a brand-new building — a dedicated school community can take action right now with their existing facility to cut their environmental footprint and educate America’s next generation of science and conservation leaders,” Kevin Coyle, vice president of NWF’s education programs told interviewers.

Across America education is a top concern of parents and policy makers. Building new schools and funding for school districts seems to be an increasing topic of debate. However, in recent decades, much of the school funding that could have been focused on programs to change the future has instead gone toward tightening security. There may be good reasons for staffing police and implementing airport security type measures but what if eco-schools can develop a kinder generation, more connected to nature and less to hate, bullying and negative outcomes?

Hands hugging green fresh grass in shape of heartIt doesn’t take hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a well-developed and well-rounded eco-school in your community. These unique alternative ways to learn and sustain your community have actually been shown to save money. According to the NWF, the leading eco-schools listed above have saved a combined total of over $200,000 in energy, waste and water. NWF also calculated that if every school in the United States adopted the same approach, the total savings could reach nearly $3 billion.

As the NWF continues to motivate more schools to adopt the eco-school model with their Eco-Schools USA program, what can you do? There may be an eco-school in your community that you don’t even know about. You should take a peek, you may be pleasantly surprised by the curriculum and solace an eco-school cultivates. These alternatives to the traditional serving of education can help us in securing a future that the next generations can enjoy wholeheartedly. Take action and look hard at how much water, energy and waste the schools in your school district are actually producing or wasting. Your tax dollars are also a part of that waste.

What are your thoughts on the current education system in America, and do you think eco-schools are the alternative we need to secure a better future?

—Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flare for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life. 


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