MILLTOWN, NJ - The borough's Parkview and Joyce Kilmer Schools have been working all school year to earn the Eco-Schools USA Green Flag Award, which is considered by the National Wildlife Federation's program to be its highest honor. Both schools have active Green Clubs and have previously earned the Bronze and Silver Awards and have been committed to reaching this milestone before the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year.

"We are working towards the New Jersey Eco-School's Green Flag award, which we hope to earn by the end of this school year," Parkview School librarian and Technology teacher Barbara Wright said last month. "We have previously achieved the Bronze Award for our efforts in reducing waste and the Silver Award for reducing our use of water. We have kept up our efforts on those fronts and are now trying to reduce our use of electricity as well. We also have a thriving school garden, and our students love planting, weeding, raking and harvesting our spring crops."

The Eco-Schools program began in 1994. It was started by the Foundation for Environmental Education and has grown in scope to include 59 countries around the globe. The Garden State currently has 262 schools participating in Eco-Schools USA. Parkview and Joyce Kilmer are among 13 schools in Middlesex County. The two schools are the only ones in Middlesex County to have earned the Bronze, Silver and Green Flag awards.

Sign Up for E-News

In order to achieve the Green Flag awards, schools must complete a specific criteria showing a commitment to the environment by addressing a certain number of pathways, which include energy, waste, water, transportation, healthy living, healthy schools and more.

The Joyce Kilmer School reduced energy and water consumption at the school while reducing waste and taking four actions to improve waterway health. Science teacher Lois Kraus is the Green Club advisor for the Joyce Kilmer School, which includes grades four through eight.

The Parkview School, which houses Milltown's youngest students also reduced energy and water consumption at the school as well as the amount of trash. In addition, Parkview students reduced CO2 emissions at the school and also addressed the healthy living pathway with a 20 minute daily recess and took three actions to improve waterway health. Wright is the Green Club advisor for the Parkview School.

The Parkview School celebrated their Green Flag by sampling some vegetables from their Green Club garden at lunch on Tuesday.

"Since 2014, Parkway Elementary School has been participating in Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey through NJ Audubon," explained Allison Mulch, Project Director for the NJ Audubon. "This 'green' recognition program integrated sustainability practices within their existing curriculum. Aligned with NJ’s Student Learning Standards for Science and NGSS, several environmental pathways were completed to deepen the curriculum, provide STEAM-based educational opportunities and engage their students in authentic learning experiences positively impacting their environment."

In order to become a permanent Eco-School, a participating school must earn four Green Flags. A Green Flag Award-winning school is re-evaluated every two years by an Eco-Schools USA assessor. After four Green Flag Awards, the National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools USA feels that a school has sufficiently changed their culture to embrace environmentally friendly practices on a daily basis.

To become an Eco-USA school, visit the National Wildlife Federation's website.