Lothrop Science and Technology Magnet Center in Omaha, a Nebraska Project Learning Tree (PLT) Greenschool, is among the nation's first-ever Green Ribbon Schools recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Green Ribbon Schools are honored for participating in activities that promote and encourage a healthy and environmentally friendly learning environment. These schools focus on reducing environmental impacts, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.
In Nebraska, PLT's Greenschools! is sponsored by the Nebraska Forest Service. This program is an excellent resource for schools wanting to obtain Green Ribbon recognition. By participating in professional development, teachers gain access to materials and resources to integrate environmental education into their curriculum.
"The Greenschools! program helps teachers facilitate student-led investigations on water, energy, the school's site, environmental quality and waste and recycling," said Jennifer Swerczek, Nebraska's PLT coordinator with the Nebraska Forest Service. "Through these investigations, students identify areas that can be improved and develop action plans to create a healthy school environment where they can thrive," she said.
For example, Lothrop is the only school in the area with a full sized greenhouse. Students use the greenhouse for inquiry experiments that go on throughout the year. Students also learn how to care for various types of plants including seeding, weeding, watering, fertilization, transplanting and propagation. Students grow food in the greenhouse as well for animals and humans.
In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service, GreenSchools! provides a blueprint for educators, students, school boards, parents and others to teach, learn and create a more green and healthy learning environment at their school. It combines environmental education, service learning and leadership opportunities to help students turn their school into a model green school.
For more information about the Nebraska Project Learning Tree's Greenschools! program, contact Jennifer Swerczek, conservation education coordinator, at 402-472-7765 or firstname.lastname@example.org.