FAU Pine Jog Celebrates 10 Years of Schools ‘Going Green’

green school of excellence

By brittany sylvestri | 6/26/2018

Florida Atlantic University Pine Jog Environmental Education Center recently celebrated the Green Schools Class of 2018 at the 10th annual Green Schools Awards at FAU’s Boca Raton campus. More than 120 public and private schools representing nearly 35 percent of all schools in Palm Beach and Martin counties, made the grade in “going green” this year.

“Recognition was given to 21 Green Schools of Promise, 41 Green Schools of Quality and 60 Green Schools of Excellence,” said Anne Henderson, director of education at the Center. “These levels illustrate that ‘going green’ is a journey and that schools should be celebrated for their efforts along the way.”

The Green Schools Recognition Program (GSRP) recognizes schools that have taken a holistic and innovative approach to greening their campuses and academic programs.  Their efforts include school grounds enhancement, resource conservation, environmental curriculum connections, community involvement and a school-wide commitment to sustainability. The program is coordinated by FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, in collaboration with the School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) and the Martin County School District (MCSD).  

“This event demonstrates the powerful commitment of our area schools to investigate and create opportunities to connect with the natural world,” said Jane Hart, a member of the FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center’s Board of Directors and retired science program planner for SDPBC.  “Creating and caring for gardens, conserving resources, conducting community projects and becoming change agents are just some of the remarkable ways the Green Schools Recognition Program affords new horizons for all.”  

The event featured keynote speaker Douglas Tallamy, award winning author and professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who spoke about the importance of restoring habitat for native pollinators and other wildlife on our school campuses and in our communities.    

Thirty-four cash prizes totaling more than $14,000 were awarded to schools implementing exceptional green school programs and practices. All cash awards are intended to help these schools continue to grow their “green” projects. 

The Green Schools Recognition Program has grown from 21 schools in 2008 to 122 schools this year, with more than 35 new schools joining the program in the last two years alone.  Henderson credits this recent growth to the addition of the Green Schools Ambassador Program, a two-year initiative funded by the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. This program-within-a-program providesexperienced “green” mentors and resources to new schools to help them achieve their green goals.

2018 top award winners were A. D. Henderson University School/FAU High School winning first place and $2,000, Calusa Elementary School taking second place and $1,000, and Meadow Park Elementary School receiving third place and $750.

In addition, Judge’s Choice Awards recognized specific categories. Award sponsors, amount, winning schools and specific category are as follows:

  • Audubon Everglades awarded $500 to Elbridge Gale Elementary School for habitat improvement.
  • City of West Palm Beach Mayor’s Office of Sustainability awarded $500 to Cardinal Newman High School for the WPB Green My School Award.
  • Florida Federation of Garden Clubs District X awarded $250 to Crystal Lake Elementary School for habitat improvement.
  • Florida Power & Light awarded $500 to Crosspointe Elementary School for energy conservation.
  • FUNraising Dollars awarded $250 to Golden Grove Elementary School for green fundraising.
  • Garden Club of Stuart awarded $250 to SeaWind Elementary School for gardening.
  • Loggerhead Marinelife Center awarded $250 to Jupiter Community High School for the Blue Leader Award.
  • Loxahatchee River District’s River Center awarded $250 to Palm Beach Central High School for water conservation.
  • Michelle Donahue of Douglas Elliman Real Estate awarded $250 each to Sandpiper Shores Elementary School and Bak Middle School of the Arts for best green school video.
  • Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County awarded $500 each to Pine Jog Elementary School and Plumosa School of the Arts for best vegetable garden.
  • Oleander Garden Club of the Palm Beaches awarded $250 to Jupiter Community Middle School for outstanding school garden.
  • FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center awarded $250 each to Boca Raton High School for community involvement and Okeeheelee Middle School for most improved.
  • Pratt & Whitney Grant a Green School Wish Awards of $250 each went to Berkshire Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, Tradewinds Middle School and Atlantic Community High School.
  • School District of Palm Beach County’s Environmental and Conservation Services Department awarded $300 each to H. L. Johnson Elementary School and Lake Worth High School for school sustainability.
  • SEQUIL Systems, Inc. awarded $250 to Palm Springs Middle School for curriculum integration.
  • Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County awarded $500 to Bright Futures Academy and $250 each to The Benjamin School and Panther Run Elementary School for solid waste reduction and conservation.
  • Susan Toth Outstanding Outdoor Environmental Education Award of $500 went to Warfield Elementary School.
  • West Palm Beach Garden Club awarded $250 to Gove Elementary for the Molly Sims Best Butterfly Learning Garden Award.

Shriece Franks, cafeteria manager at H. L. Johnson Elementary School, was named the Green Facilities/Food Service Staff Member of the Year and received $500 for this new award sponsored by the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County.  Alicia Jones-Prettyman, an eighth-grader at Roosevelt Middle School, was named the Green Student of the Year and awarded a $500 scholarship for dedication to greening her school.  Gail Pasterczyk, principal of Elbridge Gale Elementary School, was nominated by her school for Green Principal of the Year and was awarded $500. Green Teacher of the Year was awarded to Rachel Wellman of Boca Raton High School. She also received $500 for her exemplary commitment to green learning. 

To learn more about the Green Schools Recognition Program and awardees, contact Anne Henderson at ahender8@fau.edu or Lauren Butcher at lbutcher2013@fau.edu.
Pine Jog Environmental Education Center is a unit of the College of Education at Florida Atlantic University. Since 1960, Pine Jog has been fulfilling its mission of developing, modeling and providing educational programs and services which foster awareness and appreciation of the natural world, promote understanding of environmental concepts and instill a sense of stewardship. For more information, contact Pine Jog at 561-686-6600 or visit www.pinejog.fau.edu.