TRENTON, NJ – More than 100 New Jersey schools including Millburn Middle School participate in National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program and many of them are ramping up for Earth Day, planning presentations, pep rallies, and school wide contests. Eco-Schools USA is a voluntary program that provides free resources and support to schools taking steps towards sustainability on school grounds and in the curriculum.
Eco-Schools throughout the state are planning celebrations that run the gamut from spending extra time in the school garden to school wide contests and pep-rallies. At Unity Charter School in Morristown, students are in charge of planning all Earth Day activities including, holding the all-school morning meeting outdoors and hosting a school wide contest that challenges classes to complete a series of sustainable actions to win the coveted title of “Planet Protector”. Unity Charter is one of three schools in New Jersey who have achieved the prestigious Green Flag Award with Eco-Schools USA. Less than 20 schools in the nation hold the same title.
Alder Ave Middle School in Egg Harbor Township (also a Green Flag recipient) will be participating in their local Earth Day community event by hosting a student led game show entitled “Are You Greener Than a Sixth Grader”, inviting community members to see if they can hold their own in a battle of wits when it comes to being green.
Millburn Middle School in Millburn will be hosting a week of lunch time presentations that include screenings of student made films about recycling and a skit about energy conservation. While UrbanPromise Academy in Camden will honor Earth Day with a school wide celebration, including a pep rally, an Earth Day Pledge, presentations of upcycling projects, and the unveiling of a recycling thermometer to illustrate how much recycling the school has accomplished in one year.
Green Flag recipient, Benjamin Franklin School in Lawrenceville plans to celebrate Earth Day for an entire week, with each grade level participating in activities that make use of their outdoor classroom called the SNAP Space (Science, Nature, Arts, and Pondering space). They will be culminating with a Spirit Day Assembly and the planting of a tree in coordination with their township to commemorate Arbor Day as well.
“Eco-Schools have much to be proud of this Earth Day, as we celebrate their commitment to sustainability and student learning,” says Curtis Fisher, northeast regional executive director, National Wildlife Federation. “When you are an Eco-School, every day really is Earth Day.”
Eco-Schools is an international program in 59 countries. The program is hosted by the National Wildlife Federation in the United States, and coordinated by New Jersey Audubon in New Jersey. With support from PSE&G, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Horizon Foundation, and Spencer Savings Bank, Eco-Schools USA is able to provide a New Jersey Audubon staff person on the ground to support schools and help them reach their goals.
Jennifer Dowd, Eco-Schools NJ coordinator, New Jersey Audubon says, “As the Eco-Schools USA network continues to grow, more schools are inspiring one another to take greater steps towards sustainability and it’s the students that benefit. Schools using Eco-Schools resources are not only empowered to positively impact their immediate environment but also to teach key concepts through the lens of sustainability, sparking renewed student interest and excitement in learning.”
Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey supports and directly aligns with Sustainable Jersey for Schools point-based system. For more information: www.eco-schoolsusa.org