The Kentucky Department of Education announced to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) last month it will participate in the Green Ribbon Schools (GRS) Program. 

This award recognizes the highest performing green and healthy schools in the nation. It is the first comprehensive federal policy by the USDOE recognizing exemplary achievement in environmental impact, health, and education. High standards of nutrition, fitness, and outdoor time for both students and staff are among the qualifying criteria for the award. A key partner in this endeavor with the USDOE is the Campaign for Environmental Literacy.

All of Kentucky’s public school districts are invited to participate with a maximum of one school submission per district. It is a two-step process. The first step will be to complete and submit an application to KDE to demonstrate your school’s progress toward the goals of each of the three GRS Pillars. Schools are not expected to be at 100 percent (total proficiency) for all of these elements, but need to demonstrate how they are working toward each of the following goals: 

  • Net zero environmental impact (zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; improved water quality, efficiency and conservation; reduced waste production; and use of alternative transportation to, during, and from school)
  • Net positive impact on health of students and staff (an integrated school environmental health program; and high standards of nutrition, fitness, and quantity of quality outdoor time.)
  • 100 percent of high school graduates are environmentally and sustainability literate (interdisciplinary learning about the key relationships between dynamic environmental, energy and human systems; use of environment and sustainability to develop STEM content knowledge, and thinking skills; development and application of civic engagement knowledge and skills)

Participation in Green Schools Program and/or awards for environmental and sustainability efforts will also be considered in the scoring.

A team of representatives from Kentucky agencies and programs dedicated to greener schools will evaluate the applications. If selected as one of the three state nominees, schools will be asked to complete the second step by providing additional information for the USDOE nomination package.