MassDEP Recognizes 'Green Teams' in Berkshire County
BOSTON — State environmental officials recognized students from 27 schools across the Commonwealth for outstanding environmental actions as members of the "Green Team," a statewide environmental education program sponsored by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
Students of any age can participate in the Green Team program, an initiative composed of students that share the goals of reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 219 classes registered for the Green Team this school year, comprised of more than 40,000 students at 192 schools.
"The Baker-Polito Administration congratulates all of the Green Team teachers and students who showed outstanding leadership and initiative during the past school year to raise environmental awareness in their schools, homes, and communities," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. "Students and teachers were able to accomplish excellent work while recycling, composting, gardening, and learning both at school and in the home. These schools set a tremendous example for both their peers and their communities."
Participating classes entered in a drawing for prizes, and 27 classes received prizes for their efforts. Three schools won grand prizes for schoolwide participation in recycling and/or composting programs and will receive performances by environmental "edu-tainer" Jack Golden. Seven schools focused their efforts on composting and community gardens and received gift cards to local garden centers for trees and gardening supplies to further enhance their school or community garden. The other classes received prizes for their participating students such as pencils, wrist bands, key chains, seeded bookmarks, and coloring books.
In Berkshire County, Hoosac Valley High school students received wrist bands and the Youth Center Inc. received a garden certificate. Wahconah Regional High School students were awarded seeded bookmarks.
Students took part in a range of activities, including:
Expanding school recycling programs;
Collecting textiles for donation and recycling;
Starting a compost pile using organic waste from the school cafeteria and using the compost it generates to nourish a garden to grow fruits and vegetables;
Planting trees and native wildflowers to attract pollinators and songbirds;
Repurposing and reusing materials to make "new" items;
Promoting water conservation;
Making their school driveways "Idle-Free Zones;"
Increasing energy efficiency in their schools and communities; and,
Reducing their carbon footprint at school and at home.
These activities incorporated classroom disciplines from the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), reading, writing, art, and other non-classroom, interrelated projects. Participating teachers received either a digital or hard-copy Green Team Kit containing classroom posters, lesson plans, recycling tips, and access to a library of other resources. In addition, 21 schools received recycling and/or composting equipment from the Green Team to initiate or expand school recycling programs, and five schools received signs reading "Idle-Free Zone" from the Green Team that serve as a visual reminder to drivers to turn off their engines while waiting in the schoolyard.
"Green Team students take the concept of environmental stewardship right into their own schools and communities with practical approaches to energy conservation, recycling, composting, and pollution prevention projects," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "This year, many students were able to see the fruit of their own labor as a number of projects involved planting seeds and using compost from their own cafeterias to create a school vegetable and fruit garden."