FAU Pine Jog Recognizes Green Schools

By kelsie weekes | 6/13/2017

Florida Atlantic University Pine Jog Environmental Education Center celebrated the Green Schools Class of 2017 at the ninth annual Green Schools Awards Luncheon at Hilton West Palm Beach. More than 100 public and private schools representing more than 30 percent of all schools in Palm Beach and Martin counties, made the grade in “going green.”

“Recognition was given to 22 ‘Green Schools of Promise,’ 39 ‘Green Schools of Quality’ and 49 ‘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 acknowledged 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 was a wonderful celebration of Green School success stories across the region,” said Paul Strauss, director of environmental and conservation services at SDPBC.  “The Green Schools Recognition Program is getting bigger and better every year,” noting that this is the first year the program topped 100 schools.

Twenty-nine cash prizes totaling more than $13,000 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. 

Henderson credits the addition of the Green Schools Ambassador Program, funded by the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, with the record number of schools being recognized this year. The program provides “green” coaches and resources to new schools to help them achieve their green goals.”

2017 top award winners were Oxbridge Academy winning first place and $2,000, Whispering Pines Elementary taking second place and $1,000, and J.D. Parker School of Science, Math & Technology receiving third place and $750.

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

  • Audubon Society of the Everglades awarded $500 to Palm Beach Central High School for habitat improvement.
  • City of West Palm Beach Mayor’s Office of Sustainability awarded $500 to Roosevelt Middle School for WPB Green My School.
  • Florida Federation of Garden Clubs District X awarded $250 to Port Salerno Elementary School for gardening.
  • Florida Power & Light awarded $500 to Olympic Heights High School for energy conservation.
  • FUNraising Dollars awarded $150 to Coral Sunset Elementary School for green fundraising.
  • Garden Club of Stuart awarded $250 to Hobe Sound Elementary School for habitat improvement.
  • Michelle Donahue, GSRP Steering Committee, awarded $250 each to Elbridge Gale Elementary School and Watson B. Duncan Middle School for best green school video.
  • Mounts Botanical Garden awarded $500 to Elbridge Gale Elementary School for best vegetable garden.
  • Oleander Garden Club of the Palm Beaches awarded $250 to Bright Futures Academy Charter School for outstanding school garden.
  • FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center awarded $250 each to Pine Crest School of Boca Raton for community involvement; Meadow Park Elementary School for curriculum integration; Independence Middle School for student-led initiatives; and Forest Hill Elementary School for most improved.
  • Pratt & Whitney Grant a Green School Wish Awards of $500 each went to Crosspointe Elementary School, Frontier Elementary School, Lake Worth High School and Pinewood Elementary School.
  • River Center, Loxahatchee River District, awarded $250 to Martin County High School for water conservation.
  • SchoolPool, Florida Department of Transportation, awarded $250 to L. C. Swain Middle School for sustainable transportation.
  • SEQUIL Systems awarded $150 to Pinewood Elementary School for alternative energy.
  • Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County awarded $500 to Unity School for Solid Waste reduction and recycling.
  • Susan Toth Outstanding Outdoor Environmental Education Award of $500 went to Freedom Shores Elementary School.

Brandon Runner, a rising senior at Boca Raton Community High School, was named the Green Student of the Year and awarded a $500 scholarship for dedication to greening his school and community.  Bobbi Moretto, principal of Coral Reef 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 Julie Beesley of Freedom Shores Elementary 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.