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Students, Teachers, Parents Celebrate Environmental Education

Maryland Green Schools Honored at Youth Summit in Sandy Point State Park

Annapolis, Md. (June 1, 2012) — Nearly 3,500 students, educators and parents celebrated environmental education and stewardship today at the 2012 Maryland Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park. This year’s theme, Go for the Green ─ a nod to the upcoming Olympic games ─ honored certified Maryland Green Schools from across the State and gave students the chance to participate in interactive workshops and activities to learn about environmental issues.

Kids exploring a jetty at Sandy Point State Park

“In teaching our students about our natural world, we are cultivating a sense of respect and responsibility in the next generation of stewards,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “I congratulate all of this year’s Green Schools, which set an even higher standard for environmental learning in the classroom."

This year's event ─ which featured more than 50 learning stations and a youth leadership component ─ honored 101 certified Maryland Green Schools, 6 Green Centers and 4 Maryland schools that received honors through the first National Green Ribbon Schools program.

Now in its third year, the all-day youth summit is hosted by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, Maryland Green Centers, TREE-MENDOUS Maryland, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and the Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition.

Environmental education organizations including the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Irvine Nature Center, Audubon Naturalists Society, Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Maryland Park Service and many more provided hands-on environmental education lessons. Other activities included youth leadership workshops led by the Alliance for Climate Education, a Maryland Green School Student Showcase, and presentations about environmental careers and green jobs.

Following a keynote address by DNR Secretary John Griffin, students participated in a celebratory, flash-mob style dance to Miley Cyrus’ Wake Up America, led by National Geographic team members and students from several schools. 

“It is our responsibility as parents and teachers to encourage young people to learn about, understand and gain an appreciation for all that Mother Nature has afforded us,” said Secretary Griffin. “The Maryland Green Schools program helps them develop the practical knowledge and skills to incorporate green, sustainable practices into their everyday lives... Practices that support a healthy environment."

Since the program began in 1999, student-led environmental projects have resulted in significant contributions to energy conservation, reduction of storm water runoff, increases in wildlife habitat and decreases in solid waste hauls and pollutant loads.

The celebration is held to educate and engage students and teachers in activities that contribute to meaningful environmental experiences, and to recognize student and school achievements. It supports the State’s ambitious Environmental Literacy Plan developed through the Partnership to provide youth with opportunities for outdoor recreation, learning and scientific study.

“The Maryland Green Schools program plays an important role in fulfilling the State’s commitment to ensure our young people become environmentally literate,” said Joanne Schmader, the Maryland Green School program coordinator for MAEOE. “Today’s youth summit helps introduce schools to the rich array of green organizations and programs available to them, and to share the variety of actions schools have taken. Staff and students worked hard and are proud of their accomplishments. We can learn from them.”

The Maryland Green Schools program is open to every school in the State; and it is the goal of Governor O’Malley and MAEOE goal for all Maryland schools to receive accreditation. To that end, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and St. Mary’s Counties, and Baltimore City, have made Maryland Green Schools part of their strategic planning for a sustainable future. With the 2012 class, 20 percent of Maryland’s schools are now Green Schools.

To ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under the initiative, which is now being used as a national model, the Governor created the Maryland Conservation Jobs Corps and the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Maryland Green Schools Program and the annual Youth Summit are two of a number of endeavors serving to carry out the Governor’s Vision for Children in Nature, an ambitious set of actions focusing on improving connections with nature during the school day as well as outside of school and in communities. With help from the Partnership, Maryland recently became the first state to adopt a high school graduation environmental literacy requirement. For more information about the Partnership, visit dnr.maryland.gov/cin.

For more information about Maryland Green Schools, or to schedule an interview with program’s coordinator, Joanne Schmader visit www.maeoe.org, call 443-733-1220 or email greenschools@maeoe.org.


   June 1, 2012

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov