Three Pennsylvania Schools Recognized for Environmental Efforts

Pennsylvania congratulated Hillendale Elementary School, California Area School District, and West Chester University on being named Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) by the U.S. Department of Education in recognition of their environmental sustainability efforts.

“We applaud these schools for their commitment to sustainability and the environment, and for encouraging students to learn and actively engage in environmental sustainability practices,” said Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate a commitment to promoting environmental awareness and education in the classroom, equipping future generations with the knowledge and tools they need to live sustainable, environmentally conscious lives as students, workers, and Pennsylvanians.”

Located in the beautiful, rolling hills of Chadds Ford, Chester County, Hillendale Elementary School’s interest and enthusiasm for environmentalism and sustainability started more than a decade ago and continues to present day. Hillendale demonstrates their mission and commitment to sustainability and the environment in numerous ways, including tracking and reducing energy consumption, continuously inspecting and maintaining the building, grounds, and equipment, and providing extensive opportunities for students to learn about the relationship between humans, energy, and the environment, utilizing both indoor and outdoor classroom space.

California Area School District’s commitment to environmental and educational efforts extends beyond the district, coordinating activities between the district and local partners that reduce environmental impact, energy use, and food waste, conserve water, introduce environmentally friendly transportation, increase recycling, and more. Using a multi-tiered system of progressive educational approaches that teach and apply strategies to reduce environmental impact, the district engages students by teaching hands-on recycling lessons, utilizing an on-campus apiary and the honey it produces, on-site chicken coops for eggs and, an indoor aquaponics facility for healthy greens and fish, and much more. 

With a long history of faculty, staff, and student engagement in sustainability initiatives, West Chester University of Pennsylvania (WCU) continues to aim at minimizing the environmental impacts and costs of the university’s academic mission and its operations in a number of ways. WCU’s Pathways to Student Success strategic plan and its Climate Action Plan: Carbon Neutrality by 2025 documents both prioritize the inclusion of sustainability concepts in the curriculum and educational mission of the institution. WCU supports and implements practices such as promoting safe and sustainable commuting, decreasing carbon emissions, energy efficient upgrades to buildings, and identifying the campus as a “living laboratory and creative canvas,” and more.

“A clean environment is a necessity for healthy students, and these schools are all leading the way to ensuring that their schoolchildren are healthy, happy, and able to learn,” said Acting Secretary Richard Negrin. “These schools are teaching students the importance of recycling, how to do their part to combat climate change, and preparing them to be the next generation of environmental stewards.”

The schools will also receive recognition through the commonwealth’s Pathways to Green Schools program.

“These schools being honored have demonstrated a commitment to advancing sustainability by providing students with incredible opportunities to learn about their role in being stewards of our natural resources,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “We congratulate them on this recognition and encourage all Pennsylvania schools to follow their lead because schools should be a healthy place for learning, with opportunities to enjoy time outside and engage with nature.”