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US Forest Service Chief to celebrate Earth Day with District elementary students

Chief Tidwell to visit Barnard Elementary School on behalf of the GreenSchools! program to advance their environmental service-learning experience

(202) 205-1134

WASHINGTON, APRIL 21, 2011 AT 12:15 PM EDT - In celebration of Earth Day, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on Friday will present a $6,000 check to the Barnard Elementary School in Washington, D.C., for its participation in GreenSchools!, a joint project of the Forest Service and Project Learning Tree, an arm of the American Forest Foundation.

“The Barnard School is a shining example of how conservation education can be a natural part of a school’s curriculum while making a solid impact on our natural resources today and in the future,” Tidwell said. “We are planting seeds of wisdom. Imagine years from now GreenSchools! alum across the country could be working in natural resources jobs or living lives inspired by and protective of our great outdoors because of experiences like this.”

Barnard, using the GreenSchools! program, empowers students to lead the movement of sustainability and environmental responsibility at school, at home and in their community. For two years, students, staff and community have worked together to create a healthier learning environment. The grant award from the Forest Service will go toward several school projects, including an organic, raised-bed garden and an outdoor classroom. Students will give the fruits and vegetables from the garden to organizations such as Martha’s Table, which helps to feed homeless and low-income people. The outdoor classroom will provide a space for service learning opportunities that will teach them not only how to plant a garden but why it is important to do so.

As GreenSchools! participants, Barnard teachers receive ongoing Project Learning Tree and Forest Service professional development in environmental education that teaches them ways to get students outside, active and learning about nature, all while helping to meet D.C. Public Schools learning standards. The results include establishing a “green team” of students to investigate the schools’ energy use, waste and recycling, and school site, and suggest ways to reduce the school’s environmental footprint.

The Forest Service partnership with Project Learning Tree and the creation of Green Schools! fits with two key priorities of President Obama’s administration.

Let's Move Outside!, a comprehensive initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, has set a goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles. This Obama administration priority is fundamentally changing the conversation about how we eat and stay active, helping to ensure future generations are ready to win the future.

President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative is a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda to create partnerships between the federal government and American communities on locally led conservation initiatives that protect our outdoor spaces and make them accessible to American families.

Project Learning Tree is the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation and provides educators with comprehensive environmental education curriculum resources that can be integrated into lesson plans for all grades and subject areas. The program teaches students “how to think, not what to think” about complex environmental issues, and helps students learn the skills they need to make sound choices about the environment. Developed in 1976, the program has an international network of more than 500,000 trained educators using materials that cover the total environment.

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