2022 Awardees Honored at Forest Park Earth Day Festival

Representatives from the School District of University City and Missouri Green Schools AmeriCorps VISTA Parker pose in Forest Park after award presentation.

Congratulations to the winners! Read about the Earth Day awardees from the Missouri Green Schools Press release.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School awardees, local conservation champions honored at annual festival’s return to Forest Park

Thousands of visitors attended earthday365’s 2022 Earth Day Festival at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, April 23, 2022. This year, for the first time, earthday365 honored local conservation champions with a Sustainability Awards Ceremony.

Following a keynote speech from Rep. Cori Bush, The School District of University City and Principia School in St. Louis, MO were honored as awardees for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2022 Green Ribbon Honorees.

Across the country, only 27 schools, five districts, and four postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education in 2022. These honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 19 states.

The recognition earned by University City and Principia comes after an application process through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Missouri Green Schools, a partnership of the Missouri Environmental Education Association and the U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter.

The School District of University City constructed multiple LEED Certified elementary schools, solar panels, and 49,000 square feet of rain gardens for water conservation.

The district has utilized the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model to monitor and promote holistic wellness across environmental health, medical and mental health, and racial equity. The district is also recognized as a leader in project-based environmental and sustainability education, with outdoor “STEAM Labs” at every school campus, complete with a Garden Facilitator and multidisciplinary lessons.

Principia has shown their commitment to helping the environment by restoring 42 acres of forest and six acres of savanna in suburban St. Louis, creating a biodiverse “island” accessible to students and wildlife alike. Principia maintains several thriving affinity groups to support the health and wellness of their students and staff, centering the experiences of LGBTQ+ students, students of color, and international students.

Teachers at Principia utilize outdoor spaces to create authentic learning opportunities, and students can study science, language arts, social studies, and math in an outdoor classroom space. Following the award ceremony for Principia School and the School District of University City, earthday365 honored the winners of their first ever St. Louis Earth Day Festival Sustainability Awards. Rebecca Hankins, Partnership Coordinator for Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, was given the Emerging Environmental Leader Award in recognition of her work with the nonprofit.

Forest ReLeaf, a Missouri Green Schools Partner, plants trees for free with the help of volunteers, with a particular emphasis on solving the issue of urban heat islands. Rebecca Hankinshas become a tireless advocate of social and environmental justice in our region.

Following the award ceremony for Principia School and the School District of University City, earthday365 honored the winners of their first ever St. Louis Earth Day Festival Sustainability Awards.

Rebecca Hankins displays her Emerging Environmental Leader Award.

Rebecca Hankins, Partnership Coordinator for Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, was given the Emerging Environmental Leader Award in recognition of her work with the nonprofit.

Forest ReLeaf, a Missouri Green Schools Partner, plants trees for free with the help of volunteers, with a particular emphasis on solving the issue of urban heat islands. Rebecca Hankins has become a tireless advocate of social and environmental justice in our region.

The Wolf Cafe in Ballwin and Home Sweet Home from Brentwood were then recognized with the “Food for Thought – Green Dining Alliance Excellence” and “Recognizing Sustainability in Business” awards, respectively.

Carlotta Lewis was awarded the Keystone Community Activist Award, an award designed to recognize the work of an individual who has made “significant impacts in the area of environmental justice is St. Louis area communities of color.” Carlotta has been with Missouri State Parks for 24 years and has helped impoverished youth develop a deep connection to nature. Carlotta has also previously spoken at events to promote racial equity in connections and opportunities for local outdoor spaces.

Finally, Jean Ponzi of the EarthWays Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the USGBC- Missouri Gateway Chapter, was awarded the Hellbender Award for Lifetime Achievement in Environmental Sustainability. Jean has been an environmental champion for the state for 30+ years and has previously won the Missouri Waste Control Coalition’s Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as numerous other regional and national honors. In addition to her work with the EarthWays Center, Jean has hosted “Earthworms”, a podcast/radio show about “all things green”, since 1988.

Missouri Green Schools is a partnership of the Missouri Environmental Education Association and the U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter.

Missouri Green Schools serves as the conduit for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School Awards in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well as state level honors for schools in Missouri. For more information on Missouri Green Schools, to apply for recognition, or to join the Missouri Green Schools Partner Network, click here.

 

 

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