In just one year, Grades of Green can help an entire school transform student attitudes on waste reduction. Last year, Cesar Chavez Elementary from Long Beach Unified School District competed in Grades of Green’s 2016-2017 Trash Free Lunch Challenge. At the beginning of the Challenge, the school created twenty-five bags of lunchtime trash. Grades of Green challenged the school to set up a sorting station composed of a share box for uneaten cafeteria food, a compost bin for fruit and veggie scraps, a recycling bin, a landfill bin, and a tray-stacking station. Not only did students help create the stations, but they were instrumental in making sure it was utilized properly. Lead teacher, Sherri Gonser, developed a schedule so that students from every class could help support and maintain the program.  From there, additional students from all grade levels became spontaneously enthusiastic and involved as they saw the impact of their efforts. Today the school produces only 7 bags of trash a day – a 72% waste reduction! Cesar Chavez Elementary students became so accurate at lunchtime sorting that they won the title of “Best Super Sorters” in the 2016-2017 Trash Free Lunch Challenge.

After the Challenge ends, schools have the opportunity to focus on the long-term continuity of their waste reduction program. To help keep students excited and involved in waste reduction, Cesar Chavez Elementary applied for and won a grant that will be used to upgrade their waste reduction program. The school plans on using the grant to purchase new bins, a canopy to provide shade over their waste sorting stations, and even Grades of Green Team T-shirts for the entire school! Congratulations Cesar Chavez!




Interested in having your school compete in an eco-challenge? Join Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge to see how much water your school can save! For more information, email info@gradesofgreen.org.

Teachers, you could be working alongside scientists on a fully funded field research expedition next summer! The Earthwatch Institute’s Teach Earth Fellowship will send extraordinary teachers from various subject areas to the field to collect data regarding important issues such as climate change. They hope this experience will inspire teachers to integrate science literacy and environmental awareness in the classroom. Get excited if you’re a K-12 teacher who is passionate about education, has an interest in environmental issues or conducting scientific research, and would like to play a part in improving science/environmental education.

Fill out this interest form to get started. Qualified teachers will be contacted to complete an application that will be due by December 18, 2016. Know a teacher that would be interested? Nominate them here!

Raising environmental awareness and stewardship can happen post-expedition or even right now at your school: if you feel positive change is in the air, help assemble a Grades of Green Team at your school to empower students as they green the school. Register to gain access to downloadable resources to use to inspire and empower your students to care for the environment!

Calling Los Angeles high school sophomores and juniors: a two-week, all-expenses-paid scientific expedition for next summer has your name written all over it! The Earthwatch Institute’s Ignite LA Student Science Awards is interested in sending 50+ students to conduct hands-on research: collect data in the field that will impact important environmental issues. It’s also an opportunity to absorb lectures on sustainability issues, bond with your peers and research staff, and experience the natural landscape around you. Recent expeditions have been based in Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Education and Research Center, the Sagehen Creek Research Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, as well as the Southwestern Research Station in Arizona.

Applications with two recommendations are due by December 1, 2016.

Apply here!

Looking to explore somewhere closer to home? A Field Trip is an easy-to-customize Grades of Green Earth activity! You’ll learn about environmental/sustainability issues close to home and get inspiration to affect positive change.

Do you love teaching about our forests in urban environments? Do citizen science projects tickle your fancy? If you are a K-12 educator or teacher in the Greater Los Angeles region, this could be your chance to acquire a grant ($400-$800) for piloting and sharing your lesson plans involving hands-on urban forestry activities. The Earthwatch Institute is offering several grants for lesson plans using the materials developed by its Urban Resiliency Program.

Start small, think big: native, drought-resistant gardens are one way to impact urban environments and increase resiliency at a smaller level of green space. Grades of Green’s “Drought Tolerant Garden” activity is an interactive lesson in water conservation, soil sustainable practices (for example, lowering pesticides and fertilizers used), and local biodiversity enrichment.

Lesson proposals are due by October 3, 2016, but keep in mind that the proposal should have pilot lessons plans for implementation in the classroom setting before February 1, 2017. The urban resiliency lesson plan should include an activity that collects urban tree data for analysis in the classroom. Apply here.

For more information about the grant, check out this document!

Need help tending your school’s garden? You can empower your students for caring about the environment by assembling a Grades of Green Team to work on a variety of green activities.