Education Dept. Names 45 Green Ribbon Schools for 2017

The Education Dept. (DoEd) names the 2017 DoEd Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Awardees, which includes 45 schools, nine districts, and nine postsecondary institutions recognized for reducing their environmental footprint and utility costs, DoEd said.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity ( The selectees include 39 public schools, including five magnet schools and one charter school, as well as six nonpublic schools. About 45% serve a disadvantaged student body and 14% are rural. The postsecondary honorees include three career and technical and community colleges.

Whitefish School District

Winners include the Whitefish School District in Whitefish, MT. The district has about 1,500 students housed in four facilities: Muldown Elementary (K-4), Whitefish Middle School (5-8), Whitefish High School (9-12), and the Independent High School which provides a non-traditional setting for grades 10-12.

The district prioritized energy efficiency in renovations and lighting upgrades and is in the process of developing an energy conservation plan. The district recently broke ground on a two-story classroom building with attached greenhouse.  Using geothermal and solar production, and including a production garden, an orchard, an experimental forest, and an outdoor classroom, the facility will be the first zero-net energy building in the state, and will serve as a laboratory for sustainable practices.

Curriculum integration will connect learning to local agriculture, forestry, resources management, and entrepreneurship, and aspects of the facility are designed to help students achieve dual credit through institutions of higher education.  Each fall and spring, the district and the city sponsor walk- and bike-to-school events.  New bike routes have been established and road signs placed to ensure student and staff safety.

Whitefish installed water bottle refilling stations and has planted drought-resistant native plantings to minimize irrigation use.  The district has eliminated plastic utensils in the cafeterias, purchased metal silverware, and is transitioning away from the use of Styrofoam.  Whitefish uses its student-maintained gardening space to supply vegetables and herbs to the school district and for educational purposes.  It participates in a farm-to-school program, purchasing meat, dairy, grains, vegetables, and fruits from local farms.

The high school offers activities such as fly fishing, rock climbing, challenge courses, and Nordic and alpine skiing.  Students go on field trips to Glacier National Park, rivers, lakes, and wooded trails to learn ice science, fire ecology, water cycles, and snow safety.  The entire seventh and eighth grade class performs community service during the final week of the school year.  Students engage in citizen science projects researching the health of the local watershed.

Other winners include:  

  • In Virginia Centreville Elementary School, Centreville, VA; Discovery Elementary School, Arlington, VA; Albermarle Public Schools, Charlottesville, VA; Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, VA;  
  • In Washington state:  Green Gables Elementary School,  Federal Way, WA; Lakeridge Elementary School,  Mercer Island, WA;
  • In California: Yosemite High School,  Merced, CA; The Thacher School, Ojai, CA; Culver City Unified School District, Culver City, CA; Montecito Union School District, Santa Barbara, CA; Redondo Beach Unified School District, Redondo Beach, CA.  

Info: (winners).

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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