The Houston Independent School District announced a new collaboration today with the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program. The announcement was made during a press conference at Westside High School. The NWF has worked successfully for nearly 10 years with HISD with the goal of helping to close achievement gaps for disadvantaged students and to improve science and math learning through the use of outdoor environmental education.
The new Eco-Schools USA initiative will expand on the current Schoolyard Habitat program between HISD and NWF. It will also allow for further expansion and development of the Green School Challenge, launched in December 2011, by helping schools develop and implement plans to green their schools by making buildings and campuses more eco-friendly.
HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said this partnership is the latest initiative in HISD’s ongoing commitment to promote green schools. “This collaboration will offer a new, innovative approach to teaching environmental education in a non-traditional classroom setting, while providing students with more opportunities to learn about the importance of protecting our environment, “Dr. Grier said.
“We are excited to be working with HISD to advance the district’s very ambitious and commendable sustainability goals,” said Susan Kaderka, Regional Director for the National Wildlife Federation. “This effort is a win-win for students, for the district, and for the environment. Students will be better prepared for 21st century careers and life choices, teachers will see greater enthusiasm for science and math, and the natural world will benefit from reduced energy and water use and better care from a new generation of environmental stewards.”
At the press conference Westside High school environmental science and urban agriculture classes and the school’s ecology club were recognized for their accomplishments. Students there worked to restore 1.5 acres of Gulf Coastal Prairie, one of the rarest ecosystems in the nation.
“We’re proud of the work of our students, teachers, and staff at Westside High school and their ongoing efforts to make their campus green,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Julie Fox Baker. “We’re pleased HISD is the largest school district in the country participating in the Eco-Schools USA program.” The NWF launched the Eco-Schools USA program in 2009. Nationwide, there are currently 2,000 schools and more than 1 million students registered in the program. For more than 70 years, the NWF has been educating people about the environment. NWF’s education efforts annually reach more than 5,000 K-12 schools and nearly 4 million students through a variety of programs, including Schoolyard Habitats and Eco-Schools USA, which is committed to building a sustainable, comprehensive green school movement in the U.S and abroad.