Monday, September 17, 2012

Back to School with Green Apple Day of Service

Say goodbye to the lazy days of summer and get back to the structure and busyness of the promising  school year. The crisp autumn mornings have begun and how appropriate it is to symbolize the launch of this years green initiatives than with the "Green Apple Day of Service" beginning on September 29th. How will you accomplish your green goals this year?


   There are so many ways to get others involved in your passion for greener schools. Schedule an assembly on climate change with the Alliance for Climate Education.
Have our Green Schools Band perform and get school personnel and students motivated to make a difference this year....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Youth United for Environmental Turnaround by Margie McNally

 On Tuesday, July 17th I had the pleasure of representing Green Schools at a career workshop in Worcester. Over 100 participants, including 78 area youth attended the event to explore careers in green and environmental fields. The event took place at the North High School in Worcester and various towns and groups were represented. The initiative is part of "The 180 Goes Statewide: Youth United for the Environmental Turnaround!"  The Boston Youth Environmental Network and HRIA (Health Resources In Action) invited various professionals in environmental jobs and organizations to speak to students about future green jobs and opportunities. One of the highlights of the day was the presentation by The Alliance for Climate Education. Rouwenna Lamm put on an engaging presentation about the affects of global warming and really engaged students in taking action. It was very entertaining. 

Rouwenna is a Kentucky native with a B.A. in astronomy and physics from Smith College in Massachusetts. During high school and college, Rouwenna was interested in teen education and held a variety of positions educating youth about health, science, outdoor-living, and community development. She started working on climate change during her senior year in college after attending Power Shift 2007. 
Inspired by the youth and adults at the conference, she joined the newly formed Massachusetts Power Shift and planned a climate conference for hundreds of students and community members. She then helped the group transform into a network of student climate advocates pushing for legislative and social change to address climate change.
After college, Rouwenna took a 9-month internship with the Union of Concerned Scientists where she was working to connect scientists with policy makers and the public to increase climate education and push for legislative action to address climate change. She also helped produce reports on the impacts of climate change in the Midwest. Rouwenna is excited to join the ACE team and continue educating and empowering youth to fight for their futures.

The youth groups present were:
·         Branching Out Interns
·         Groundwork Lawrence Green Team
·         Holyoke Youth Conservation Corps
·         Lowell Spindle City Corps
·         Pittsfield Trail Crew
·         Sustainability Guild International
·         Toxic Soil Busters
·         Worcester Tree Initiative
·         Youth Conservation Corps US Fish & Wildlife Service
·         Youth in Charge
·         YouthGROW

Other organizations present included:
·         Boston Youth Environmental Network
·         Commonwealth Corp
·         Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp.
·         “e” inc.
·         Green Schools
·         Health Resources in Action
·         New England Regional Council of Carpenters
·         Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM)
·         Roxbury Community College
·         Student Conservation Association
·         US  Department of Labor Women’s Bureau
·         US Environmental Protection Agency
·         US Fish & Wildlife Service
·         USDA Forest Service

 From the BYEN website:

In 2006, the Boston Youth Environmental Network (BYEN) was created to facilitate linking Boston Public School (BPS) students with hands-on science learning opportunities during and after school.  Today BYEN is successfully building a pathway for Boston’s youth from kindergarten through high school of formal and informal environmental education experiences, and relevant, hands-on employment opportunities.

To date, nearly 150 public and private sector environmental education providers participate in the network.  From start-ups to well-established leaders in the field, each organization sees the value of being part of a larger network, a network that elevates the conversation taking place between organization staff and BPS school teachers and educators during the school year, and facilitates the meaningful employment of teenagers in green jobs during the summer months.  By convening a broad spectrum of stakeholders, connecting them to each other in service to our urban youth, sustaining these connections through comprehensive programs that leverage individual organizational strengths, and consistently measuring and evaluating program impacts, BYEN is transforming the way that the City’s children in grades K-12 experience hands-on science and environmental education and related employment opportunities.  

Boston Youth Environmental Network (BYEN) is a comprehensive system of organizations providing hands-on environmental education and employment opportunities for children and youth.  Our resources and connections help individual providers more effectively engage kids in outdoor learning, academic achievement and career exploration.

All young people in Boston are engaged in high quality, culturally relevant environmental education and employment experiences that provide opportunities for outdoor learning, academic achievement and career exploration.    

To align existing programs and create new models of partnership to form a pathway from kindergarten through high school of formal and informal environmental education experiences, and relevant, hands-on employment opportunities.  

Theory of Change
An equitably distributed and networked system of services, grounded in youth development principles, will provide a clear, accessible pathway of education and employment opportunities from childhood to early adulthood.

Program areas along the pathway on which we focus include:
BYEN achieves its mission by:
Convening: for engaged leadership and a common vision
Connecting: to coordinate training, align services, increase capacity
Sustaining: to develop resources and public awareness
Measuring and evaluating: for quality and impact

At HRiA, we believe that good health is a right, not a privilege. Everyone should have the opportunity to attain their full health potential regardless of socially and physically determined circumstances.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Furniture for Schools by Margie McNally

We don't often think about how indoor air quality is affected by furniture and furnishings however this is something to consider. With the rise in asthma in school children and more people being affected by chemical sensitivity testing of materials has become commonplace. Certification standards and transparency in manufacturing processes are on the horizon. Greenguard Children and Schools addresses these environmental issues with third party certification for product emissions. Third-party certification refers to certification programs in which all aspects of the certification program, from claims verification and standard design to administration of the program, are conducted and run by an independent body whose only ties to manufacturer or industry are fees for assessment services. ( Here is a recent news article that gives some excellent information and resources for selecting furniture for healthy indoor environments....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Factory Farming Awareness by Margie McNally

It is so good to see our schools encouraging students to find a cause and take action. I just love it when our children feel passionate about something and take action. 13 year old Samantha Livermore is doing something about a real world issue and has written the letter below....

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Samantha Livermore. I am 13 years old, and attend Marblehead Veterans Middle School. In Social Studies class, we have been asked to complete a ‘Do Something’ project, where we choose an issue in our world and find a way to do something about it. My partner, Molly, and I chose to raise awareness about factory farming. Factory farming is a fast, cruel way to grow diseased, bruised meat to sell to everyone. Animals live short, painful lives in these “farms” in cramped spaces with toxic fumes and harmful drugs. There is a disgusting total of 2,204,782 factory farms in the United States alone, not to mention the ones in the rest of the world. Everyone, besides vegetarians and vegans, is affected by this problem. Factory farmed meat is sold everywhere, except for organic, natural food stores. This meat is easily available to you, and cheap. This meat is pumped with antibiotics and other drugs to speed their growth and make them immune to disease. But truly, all this does is cause mutations and antibiotic resistant bacteria. This problem has existed since 1920s, when people found ways to harness vitamins A and D so that they could grow animals without spending time and money on exercise and outdoor activity. When antibiotics were discovered in the 1940s, it made factory farming even easier. Animals in factory farms are sick, deformed, mutilated, crowded and slaughtered at a young age. We cannot allow this to go on any longer.

Factory farms are dangerous to your health. The average American consumes twice their body weight in factory meat, thus taking in the drugs the animal had in its system when it was slaughtered. Antibiotic resistant bacteria reside in these poor animals and their farms, evolving to find a way around antibiotics. 76 million food related illnesses occur each year. Do you want to be eating this contaminated meat? Do you want to spend loads of money on health care when you could spend it on organic farming instead? Factory farms are not only harmful to your body, but to your environment as well. 61 million tons of factory farm waste are produced each year, and are usually disposed of incorrectly. This causes it to pollute nearby rivers and soil. In North Carolina, in 2009, 1 billion fish were poisoned in a river because of run-off waste. Also hurting the environment, 260 million acres have been cleared to make space for factory farms. I am passionate about this topic because I feel that people should know what exactly they are putting into their body. Chemical infested meat is not what people assume they’re buying when they shop at their local supermarket. Also, I believe these animals are abused extremely unfairly. Animal abuse is overlooked when it comes to feeding the population. The average factory farm chicken has 6/10 of a square foot to move around in, and since this crowded space causes violence in the animals, many birds are painfully debeaked to stop them from mutilating each other. Another disturbing fact is that a cow’s natural lifespan is  20 to 25 years, but in factory farms, they rarely live to be 4. Often times animals are too sick or deformed to walk when they arrive at the slaughterhouse, so they are tied to trucks, still alive, and dragged to be slaughtered. Would you treat your pet this way? Would you treat any living, breathing intelligent creature this way? The way these animals are treated before they are killed is agonizing and wrong. I can’t stand to think that in farms near my home, animals are treated this way. Can you? Can you live with the fact that the meat you eat each night at dinner lived a short, torturous life full of violence and drugs?

Molly and I plan to create a website, posters and a promotional video to spread information about factory farming. On the website, we will be posting informative posts about facts, things you can do for yourself, and ways you can help. You can click here to be redirected to this website. Posters will be posted around our town and school. The video will be posted to YouTube by June 7th by the name of ‘Stop Factory Farms: Do Something’. All of these things will be available and functioning by June 7th. We plan to raise enough awareness so that the people in our community can decide for themselves whether they are going to submit themselves to this danger or if they are going to take action.
Now, you can go home and with a few simple changes, do something to help yourself and this cause. Here is a short list of things you can do:
o    Shop at organic stores or markets such as Whole Foods or the Farmers Market.
§  This helps because you are not supporting factory farms.
o    Shop locally - don’t buy foreign meat products!
§  You don’t know what they were treated with and the specific conditions they were in.
o     Vote against factory farming whenever you have the chance!
§  Now that you know about it, make a change in your community.
o    Find out more!
§  The more you know, the more you can do!
        Samantha Livermore

Again, here is the link to the website:

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

4th Annual Green Difference Awards

1.       Abby Kelley Foster Charter School
2.       Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
3.       Andover High School
4.       Beverly High School
5.       City of Lowell Recycling Coordinator, Gunther Wellenstein
6.       Foxborough Regional Charter School
7.       Stonehill College, Bridget Meigs
8.       Manchester Essex Regional School District, Green Scholars Advisors
9.       Mansfield High School, Project Teammate
10.   Newton North High Schools, Greengineers
11.   South Shore Public Charter School
12.   Touchstone Community School
13.   Town of Milton, William Ritchie
14.   Wellesley Middle School Green Team
15.   Wellesley High School
16.   White Oaks Elementary School, Rosalie Tubre
17.   Gill-Montague Regional School District

18.   Wellesley High School, Eva Loh & Juyon Lee [Certificate of Recognition]
19.   W. Bridgewater Middle/Sr. High School, Ashley Faghan [Certificate of Recognition]
20.   W. Bridgewater Middle/Sr. High School, Mitchell Manning [Certificate of Recognition]

Green Schools is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to create greener & healthier learning environments through education & awareness.
Green Schools provides a number of environmental education programs and resources to schools and communities looking to make The Green Difference.  For more information go to:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Green Schools Summit Event

The 5th Annual Green Schools Summit “Greening Our Schools & Communities Every Day!” took place on Friday, April 13th at Mansfield High School. Over 1,400 attendees from more than 24 Massachusetts based schools gathered to learn about Environmental Education and how to move to action!

Keynote Speakers included Joe and Jen Andruzzi. Joe is a former New England Patriots player who battled cancer and won. Also speaking were Jessica Hing, EPA Region 1 on Green Ribbon Schools and State Representative Jay Barrows.

Additional features and presenters included SAGEE [Secretaries Advisory Group on Energy Environment and Education], Superintendent of Mansfield Public Schools, Brenda Hodges, Waste Management, MA Recycle, Zumba classes, The Food Project, Invensys Foxboro, Metech Recycling, SolSolution, Planet Aid, Delicious Living Nutrition, Quincy High School’s Eco Fashion Show, South Shore Public Charter School, Newton North's Greengineers, Foxboro Regional Charter School, The Farm at Stonehill, MITS, Green Schools Student Ambassadors and many others!

Back row: Linda Fernando [MEF], Marybeth Cragan [MEF], State Representative Jay Barrows, Jillian Rizzitano [Algonquin High], Allyson Rudd [FRCS], Andrea Landy [FRCS], Anne Claire Grammer [Mansfield High], Jordan Torti, Jen [Joe Andruzzi Foundation] Andruzzi, Joe Andruzzi [Former New England Patriots Player/Joe Andruzzi Foundation]

Front row: Reily Connaughton [FRCS], Carol Bowe [Boston Latin School], Christina Prew [The Pinecroft School], Haley Organ [FRCS], Shadi Rajeh [FRCS], Tyler Casper [FRCS], Katilyn Shannon [FRCS], Brian Krentzman [Qualters Middle], Robin Organ [Green Schools], Jessica Hing [EPA]
 Photo courtesy of Guravage Studio

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Here is another inspirational student doing great things with Green Schools.

Name: Carol Bowe

School:Boston Latin School

Grade: 11

Biography: I started working with my school's environmental group, BLS YouthCAN, when I was in 8th grade. Then in 2009 we began work on a green roof at BLS. However, it was much more than that. It wasn't simply a green roof for our students. The plan is that it will be equipped with outdoor classrooms, wind turbines, solar panels, and even a greenhouse. I will be a place where students can learn and students from any school can come and check it out. We would also put data collected on the roof on our website ( so anyone can learn from it. We have been fundraising and giving presentations about it ever since. For example just recently we presented to the mayor and the city, which was really exciting because we are now pushing this project further. We've even had design charrettes to tweak our original plans. It has been a long process but in the end it will all be worth it!

Youth CAN is what lead me to green schools and the student ambassador program. I began last year and I am so excited that I have had this opportunity. It has lead me to learn much and discover many opportunities. One of the most exciting for me was meeting Eco Orchards at a green schools event. I had always been really upset that we were recycling and trying to cut down our waste at school yet we still had styrofoam lunch trays. They are recycled by the city but it was still not good for the environment. We purchased an order of compostable trays from Eco Orchards for a two day trial. I am hoping that this leads to further use of these and eventually a complete switch from styrofoam. I am very excited to be working in the student ambassadors program!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Think Before You Idle .... by Margie McNally

This week our attention turns to another local student environmental initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 5th grade students at Brickett Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts participated in Disney's Planet Challenge "Think Before You Idle" competition and were awarded over 250 other schools a surprise trip to Disney and $10k for their school after their efforts to prevent prolonged vehicle idling in front of their school and in the city of Lynn. Their work included going before state legislation to propose passing a bill for a maximum three minute idling period in the city. Students got community involved and made a difference for sure.... Bravo! See the full story here...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ambassadors learn about Sustainable Design by Margie McNally

Being an environmental design professional, this was one of my favorite Green Schools events...

On Saturday, March 3rd Ambassadors representing Wilmington High School and The Bridge School in Lexington met at the brand new Boston Society of Architects offices and gallery in Boston to learn about sustainable design. Polly Carpenter from Learning By Design in Massachusetts presented to the students the principles of sustainable design including the use of renewable resources like bamboo.Of course sustainable design is that and so much more...It's about preserving natural resources like energy, water, land and trees and about giving back to the earth so that future generations will not run's about doing no harm and creating healthful and healing environments for all.

We all had the chance to participate in a thought provoking design activity by creating a weather proof shelter out of one single piece of paper. Students and adults had to become resourceful with few tools being allowed in the process...It produced some interesting results as one can imagine. Attendees toured the gallery as well.

Learning By Design in Massachusetts is a K-12 architecture and design education program. They will be part of an event July 9-20 at The Museum Institute for Teaching Science for elementary and middle school educators exploring how science inspires can visit the website at

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let Me Introduce Our Ambassadors Part One....

Michelle Li
School: Needham High School
Grade: 12
Biography: I've worked with Greenschools since my sophomore year. I've regularly attended meetings, and in addition, have volunteered and partaken in events such as the summer student ambassador outings, the annual Green Schools Summit, and the Green Difference awards. I helped create the Student Ambassador Constitution, and co-wrote the Green Schools Society pledge. In my junior year, I helped the environmental club at my school place more recycling bins in the cafeteria to encourage recycling during lunch hours. As the Vice President of Communications of the Student Ambassadors, I manage the Green Schools Facebook group, and help edit the Ambassador Newsletter.

Anne Claire Grammer

School: Mansfield HIgh School
Grade: 12

This is my first year at Green Schools, and I couldn't be happier to be President of Community Outreach which means that I speak at events and am present at Green School's environmental field trips. I'm part of the Green Hornets club which is an environmental awareness club at MHS.
This year we are focusing on repairing our green house since it was ruined by hurricane Irene,increasing our current recycling regime, and are currently trying to implement solar panels on MHS's roof.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Inspiring Youth by Margie McNally Green Schools Board Member

Last Saturday, February 4th students from Sharon High School gathered at Mansfield High School, home of Green Schools to share their knowledge, experience and progress in composting at Sharon High School. Matt Ostrow and Vineeta Nangia along with other members of the group YCOMP (Youth Composting Organization for Massachusetts Populace, educated attendees with a well organized slide presentation of the benefits of composting as well as direction on implementing a program in area schools. Students displayed the “Earth Machine” as a key component of composting success. After the presentation students from Sharon, Mansfield and West Bridgewater had some fun with candid interviews on their motivation to bring green initiatives to their schools. After many years of environmental practice and education I was so inspired to see these dedicated young people share their individual enthusiasm about getting involved in environmental activities. Keep up the good work students! What are you doing in your school? Please share your experience with us.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Year New Initiatives by Margie McNally GS Board Member

Well it is a new year for Green Schools and I look forward to working once again with this energetic group as well as with area schools on their green goals and action plans.

Early in my career as an Interior Designer I realized the importance of a healthy environment which goes beyond fashion, style and color. At that time my young daughter suffered with allergies and chronic bouts of asthma. The American Lung Association’s marketing campaign pictured a young child with an oxygen tube draping down his face and a caption that read “when you can’t breathe nothing else matters” ...well that hit home and I began my work with the ALA as Environmental Program Coordinator targeting local schools with an introduction to the EPA Tools For Schools Program. That was the early 90s and since then the focus on healthier and more energy efficient schools has resulted in the proliferation of dozens of green school building programs and initiatives. Among the recent developments is the launching of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program that focuses on three elements...

(1) healthy learning environments, (2) environmental impact and energy efficiency and (3) environmental literacy

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools will recognize schools that save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness, and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement. The recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education (Department) effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that at least 25,000 U.S. schools are in need of extensive repairs and more than 10,000 of those schools have air that is unfit to breathe. On the flip side, research has shown that, on average, green schools save $100,000 per year on operating costs. Greening our schools just makes sense and our hats go off to this year’s designees for their practical and forward thinking.

Breaking stories like the recent incident where 12 female high school students in upstate New York developed mysterious Tourets-like symptoms with no apparent cause give reason to first investigate the health and indoor air quality of the school building. Although the cost of third party testing can be daunting, attention to environmental factors is key. In a perfect world schools would be proactive in preventing the problems from occurring in the first place. Taking precautions with everyday maintenance procedures, monitoring occupant habits and incorporating integrative design when constructing new schools are among the strategies that will prevent poor indoor air quality problems and preserve the health of our school age children.