Educators Win 2011 Florida Green Schools Awards

Students from Learning Gate Community SchoolSecond-grade students from Learning Gate Community School collect specimens at a pond on the school property as part of their 2011 Splash! school grant project.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Environmental Education has recognized three schools in the District with 2011 Florida Green Schools Awards.

The Florida Green Schools Awards is a partnership between DEP, the Department of Education, Florida’s Foundation and the Sustainable Florida Program. The awards program recognized five winners statewide, and there were three winners in the District: Deb Wagner’s class at St. Paul Lutheran School in Polk County, Learning Gate Community School in Lutz and the Pinellas County School District.

The students of Celeste Norup at Bessey Creek Elementary School in Martin County and Josh Clearman, a teacher at Key West High School in Monroe County rounded out the five statewide winners. The winners each received a $1,500 award.

St. Paul Lutheran School, Learning Gate Community School and the Pinellas County School District have used District resources to help educate their students on water resources. Teachers have taken advantage of water education programs, used District educational materials and have been awarded Splash! school grants. During school year 2010–2011, teachers in Pinellas County schools ordered more than 78,800 youth education publications and materials through the District’s website. The Splash! grants provide up to $3,000 per school to public and private teachers. The funds are used for hands-on learning opportunities that teach students about their local watersheds and the freshwater resources within them.

“These awards demonstrate the commitment these schools have made to the environment,” said Mary Margaret Hull, District lead communications coordinator. “Educators are helping their students learn the importance of protecting and conserving Florida’s natural resources. We’re glad that the District’s educational resources can help our teachers.”

Leading up to the selection of the five 2011 Green School Award winners, three finalists from public and private schools throughout the state were selected in each of five categories: students, classrooms, teachers, schools and school districts that have implemented resource-saving projects. In addition to the three final award winners that were located in the District, two of the statewide finalists were also in the District: Ray Cruze’s class at Roosevelt Academy in Polk County (a Splash! grant recipient) and the Charlotte County School District. All finalists received a $250 award.

“These finalists represented the best of the more than 100 Green School Award applications received last year. As impressive as these projects are, the cumulative impact of all the projects is really tremendous: more than 42,000 students, teachers and administrators participated directly in green school initiatives that generated $10.8 million in gross cost savings for Florida’s schools,” said Greg Ira, director of the Office of Environmental Education.

Developed as part of the 2008 Energy and Economic Development Legislation, the Florida Green Schools Awards is an annual event that promotes and rewards conservation efforts by students, teachers and school administrators. Eligible projects demonstrate significant ways to save and conserve water and energy and reduce waste. To learn how to apply for the 2012 Florida Green Schools Awards, visit the Office of Environmental Education website at