Students, Teachers, Parents Celebrate Environmental Education
Annapolis, Md. (June 7, 2011) — Thousands of Students, teachers, and administrators celebrated environmental education June 3 at the 2011 Maryland Green Schools Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park. The event honored certified Maryland Green Schools from across the State and gave students the chance to participate in interactive workshops and activities to learn about environmental issues in Maryland.
“Our Maryland Green Schools set a high bar for environmental learning in the classroom, which the nation is following,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “By teaching students the importance of our natural world, we are cultivating a sense of responsibility and understanding in Maryland’s next generation of stewards.”
The all-day, annual event, hosted by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and State Department of Education, is held to educate and engage students and teachers in activities that contribute to meaningful environmental experiences. This celebration is part of the State’s ambitious Environmental Literacy Plan developed through Governor O’Malley’s Partnership for Children in Nature to provide youth with opportunities for outdoor recreation, learning and scientific study.
Nearly 4,000 students, teachers, parents and environmental education professionals participated in the event, honoring certified Maryland Green Schools. The program was designed to encourage existing Maryland Green Schools to push themselves even further and inspire Maryland schools not yet achieving Green Schools status to embrace the green culture.
The event included a series of three awards ceremonies, an environmental literacy bazaar and other activities. At the bazaar, nearly 60 environmental educators – including National Geographic, NorthBay Adventure, Maryland Coastal Bays, DNR, Kayam Farm, and Living Classrooms Foundation –provided children with hands-on environmental education lessons. Other activities included youth leadership workshops led by the Alliance for Climate Education, a Maryland Green School Student Showcase and an elected officials’ town hall meeting where students got the chance to interact with real elected officials.
Following the key note address and closing ceremony, students will fanned out along the edge of the Chesapeake Bay to launch their Promises for the Future – personal actions written on hand-made kites created from recycled materials – using the wind — a clean source of energy — for power. “Students, the world over, wish to play an active role in shaping the future today. This may be the next generation – but they are not waiting for tomorrow to make a difference,” said Joanne Schmader, the Maryland Green School Program Coordinator for MAEOE.
The Maryland Green School Program gives students the tools to practically apply knowledge in ways that create a healthier environment. Student-led environmental projects are responsible for significant contributions to energy conservation, reduction of storm water runoff, increases in wildlife habitat and decreases in solid waste hauls and pollutant loads. Some examples include:
- Reservoir High School in Howard County reduced school energy consumption by 323,985 kilowatts, saving $91,000 (10.2 percent reduction)
- Evergreen Elementary in St. Mary’s County instituted a no waste lunch program
- Pocomoke Middle School in Worcester County restored 1,000 linear feet of shoreline
“Environmental Literacy is not an option, it is a civic responsibility. And sustainability is not a slogan, it is a solemn promise we make to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs,” said Bronwyn Mitchell, Executive Director for MAEOE.
The Maryland Green Schools program is open to any school in the State, and it is both Governor O’Malley’s and MAEOE’s goal for all Maryland schools to receive accreditation. To that end, Baltimore City, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, St. Mary’s, and Calvert Counties made Maryland Green Schools part of their strategic planning for a sustainable future. With the 2011 Class, 20 percent of Maryland’s schools are now Green Schools.
To ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under the initiative, which is now being used as a national model, the Governor created the Maryland Conservation Jobs Corps and the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Maryland Green School Program and the annual Youth Summit are two of a number of endeavors serving to carry out the Governor’s Vision for Children in Nature.
For more information about Maryland Green Schools, or to schedule an interview with Joanne Schmader, visit www.maeoe.org, call (443) 733-1220 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov.