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  • Welcome to the Green Energy Challenge

    Green Energy_Challenge.siteicon

    Make energy efficiency your National Green Week theme! 

    Signup Button

    Once you're signed up, visit the How to Participate section to make the most of your initiatives! 



    The Green Energy Challenge calls on schools across the nation to improve their energy efficiency through simple changes of behavior. This K-12 sustainability education program empowers children to take small steps that can have a big collective impact on our environment, our economy, and our societies. By improving the energy efficiency of schools, districts can cut costs without cutting corners. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that schools could save up to 50% of their energy costs by adopting fairly simple energy-saving measures and renovations. Some estimates suggest that a 25% reduction in energy costs would save $1.5 billion! These savings could fund 30,000 new teacher salaries, 40 million textbooks or hundreds of thousands of computers. Participation is easy! Sign-up by registering for free as a GEF Member and  selecting Green Energy Challenge in the programs checklist.

    Consider these statistics:

    • The U.S. is the number one trash producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person/per year 
    • Paper products make up the largest part of our trash (approximately 40%) 
    • Every ton of recycled office paper saves 380 gallons of oil 
    • Energy saved from one recycled aluminum can will operate a TV set for 3 hours, and is the equivalent to half a can of gasoline 
    • Glass is one of the very few products that can be completely recycled again and again. However, if it ends up in a landfill it will never decompose 
    • Plastic bags and other plastic thrown into the ocean kills as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year

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    • Recommended Reading
      Welcome to the Green Energy Challenge suggested reading list. Reading is a relaxing and fun way to stimulate learning and absorb important information.

      Click on the book covers to travel to the Green Education Foundation online bookstore. From there, you may purchase any book titles found in the lists below.





      High School books

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    • Energy Challenge Contests

      Join one of GEF's Green Energy Challenge contests to foster enthusiasm and energy around your energy curriculum! Submit your projects by the deadlines listed below.

      Green in Action Awards

      Become a Green-in-Action winner by sharing your green projects or initiatives with GEF!  Green in Action is part of National Green Week, and in the spirit of collective action, projects and initiatives related to any sustainability topic are welcome. Winners receive $250 for their class and will be featured on GEF's website! Send in your entry by May 15, 2015!

      Become a National Grid Spotlight School!

      Schools in National Grid's regions in NY, MA and RI are eligible to make sustainability a priority in their school with GEF's help. Become a National Grid Spotlight School and win $250 towards your school project! The winner is a school or classroom who makes sustainability a priority with a focus on one of the following: sustainable gardening, classroom curriculum, school-wide green initiative, behavior change campaign, or create your own! The possibilities are endless. Simply send GEF a two paragraph essay about your project along with what you would do with the proceeds. You could win $250 and have National Grid volunteers come to your school to help with your project! Four lucky schools will win! One in MA, one in RI, one in upstate NY and one in downstate NY will be selected, so don't wait! Send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today! Send in your entry by April 3, 2015

      Sign the Green Classroom Pledge! 

      Ask your students to sign a pledge to reduce energy consumption, waste, and more to make their classroom more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Submit a copy of your pledge with a photo of the class to be entered to win 30 Green Packs! Send in your Pledge entry by the end of each of the following months to be entered into the raffle: January, February, March and April! Schools in National Grid's regions in NY, MA and RI are eligible.

      Brought to you by:

      2013 NG HWHFY_PMS300            

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    • Curriculum and Activities


      GEF's Green Energy Challenge curriculum uses standards-based and STEM focused lessons to introduce students to energy concepts and conservation strategies.
      Learn More!



      The best way to learn new concepts is through hands-on audits of the places you're most familiar with - your home and your school. Find out what strategies can help you save energy! Learn More!



      Complete this simple Energy Checklist to join the Green Energy Challenge! Show your committment to energy conservation and learn new strategies by pledging to change your behavior. Get the Checklist!



      Check out GEF's energy related activities to learn about energy conservation! Find the perfect activity for your class today! Learn More!



      Print out this simple poster of simple eco-tips to remind your class how to save our valuable resources everyday in the classroom and at home!Learn More!
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    • Energy Saving Tips
      There are plenty of ways that you can make a difference by making simple changes to your behavior to save energy at your home and at school. 





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  • I Ride Green


    Make sustainable transportation your National Green Week theme! 

    Signup Button

    All signed up? Now visit the How to Participate section to make the most of your initiatives! 


    According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each day Americans collectively travel a total of 15 million miles on car trips that are ½ mile or less. These micro-trips account for nearly one million gallons of gasoline burned and 10,000 tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere daily. In partnership with Amtrak, GEF created I Ride Green to motivate American students and their families to adopt green transportation habits, and feel empowered to reverse these alarming trends.

    Program Overview 

    Click the image below to see the animated
    portion of the I Ride Green lesson on Biomimicry!
    Amtrak Video
    I Ride Green invites participants to start easy-to-adopt sustainable transportation habits that can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors. 

    Pledge to do at least one of the following:
    • Walk, bike or skate to local destinations whenever safe and practical 
    • Advocate for the installation of safe sidewalks and bicycle paths to schools and other local destinations 
    • Carpool or take public transportation when non-motorized transportation is infeasible 
    • Reduce auto emissions by shutting off engines when wait time is 20 seconds or more

    Program Objectives

    The central goal of I Ride Green is to inspire schools, families and individuals to develop lifelong habits for sustainable transportation that promote the health of the environment, the economy, and people.
    1. Educate students about issues around transportation and sustainable transportation topics such as hybrid technology, biofuels, idling, and much more. 
    2. Inspire children to spend more time outdoors being physically active by promoting the importance of physical and emotional health and well-being through standards-based curriculum and activities 


     Please visit the I Ride Green curriculum section to access a multitude of sustainability lessons. 

    BTYB Amtrak

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    • Curriculum


      Use a GEF lesson about sustainable transportation for each day of your National Green Week. Find free lessons all about sustainable transportation for each grade level.  


      Special Lesson Set for Middle School

      In partnership with Amtrak, GEF developed a comprehensive set of 10 lessons about sustainable transportation. Check them out!! 



      These fun ideas will get students excited about living a more sustainable life through their transportation habits. They're great for the classroom, at home or after school! 
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    • Recommended Reading
      Welcome to the I Ride Green suggested reading list. Reading is a relaxing and fun way to stimulate learning and absorb important information inside and outside the classroom.

      Browse for books, then click the book cover to learn more about purchasing the book on Amazon.


      Elementary School Books


      Middle School Books


      High School Books

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  • Green Building Program

    Green Building_Program.siteicon

    Make green building your National Green Week theme! 

    Signup Button

    Once you've signed up, visit the How to Participate section to make the most of your initiatives! 


    The U.S. Department of Energy contends that schools spend over $6 billion nationwide on energy each year, many spending more on energy bills than on total school supplies. According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, up to 25 percent of schools’ energy costs can be attributed to poorly designed or outdated systems. Estimates also suggest that achieving this same percentage in energy reduction would save a staggering $1.5 billion. These savings could fund 30,000 new teacher salaries, 40 million textbooks or hundreds of thousands of computers.

    In addition, the majority of school buildings nationwide are decades old, and are not constructed with environmental efficiency or the health of occupants in mind. A growing body of research indicates that indoor environmental quality has a pronounced effect on the health and productivity of students, teachers and school staff. Ventilation rates, air pollutants, humidity levels, and temperature ranges, all need to be effectively controlled. The good news is that retrofitting existing buildings is easier than ever.

    Program Overview

    The GEF Green Building Program educates K-12 students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the strategies to take steps toward improving environmental inefficiencies within their own school building.  Through lessons, audits, and activities students will cover topics including water and energy efficiency and environmental quality as they relate to building construction, operation and maintenance. 

    Program participants at the high school level are also encouraged to pursue GEF Institute's Green Building curriculum for the classroom. This is a comprehensive curriculum set that can be customized with up to 8 different units on key green building topics. Educators with all levels of knowledge in sustainability and sustainability teaching methods will find that the fully scripted curricula provide an innovative approach to teaching STEM concepts in context with important sustainability topics.  


    Curriculum button_

     Program goals include:
    • Educate students and administrators on how their school building consumes energy and water and identify strategies to become more efficient, thereby lowering their schools’ operating costs
    • Understand factors that contribute to indoor and outdoor environmental quality and implement strategies to create a healthier, more productive learning environment for school occupants

    The Green Building Program will provide all the educational resources necessary to ensure that students are empowered to be among the key stakeholders shaping their futures.

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    • Curriculum and Activities



       GEF's Green Building curriculum uses standards-based and lessons to introduce students to green building concepts. Learn More



       The best way to learn new concepts is through hands-on audits of the places you're most familiar with - your home and your school. Find out what strategies can help you save energy! Learn More!



      Check out GEF Institute's Green Building classroom curriculum for ready to use materials to help integrate green building concepts, strategies, and more into your classroom.  Learn More!

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    • Learn About Green Building
      Use GEF's resources and lessons to learn more about green building! Consider some of these statistics to understand the impact buildings have on the environment. 

      Energy Use and Conservation
      • Buildings consume 39% of the total energy and 74% of the electricity used in the U.S.
      • LEED-certified buildings consume approximately 25% less energy, on average, than comparable non-certified buildings.
      • Buildings account for 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.
      • Green buildings have 33% less greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy.

      Water Use and Conservation
      • Each day 5 billion gallons of drinking water is used to flush toilets.
      • Buildings account for 13% of all drinking water consumption in the U.S.
      • Water savings from LEED-certified commercial buildings is expected to grow to 7% of all non-residential water use by 2020.
      • It has been estimated that about 4% of our electrical power is used for moving and treating water and wastewater nationwide.
      • 5% of U.S. carbon emissions result from moving, treating and heating water.
      • Thermoelectric (fossil fuel, biomass, nuclear) generating plants use about 25 gallons of fresh water for every kilowatt of electricity produced.
      • 30,000 gallons of water are required to manufacture an automobile.

      Land Use, Site and Landscape Design
      • Development shifts land usage away from natural, biologically-diverse habitats to built areas that are impervious and lack biodiversity.
      • Americans use 800 million gallons of gasoline each year mowing their lawns, and gas-powered lawn mowers produce 5% of air pollution (higher in metropolitan areas).

      The Built Environment
      • People in the U.S. spend about 90% of their time indoors.
      • Businesses with employees working in LEED-certified buildings are expected to realize $2 billion in annual productivity gains by 2020. “People friendly” green design reduces absenteeism and improves work quality.
      • Students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests in one year than those with less daylighting.
      • Green buildings have 27% higher occupant satisfaction
      • EPA studies indicate indoor levels of pollutants may be up to ten times higher than outdoor levels.

      Materials and Resources
      • A typical building construction project produces 2.5 pounds of solid waste per square foot of completed floor space.
      • Buildings account for 40% of raw materials use in The U.S.
      • Buildings account for 30% of all waste output in the U.S.
      • Over 2 pounds of waste is generated per day for every resident in the U.S. by the construction and demolition of buildings.
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    • Case Studies

      Case Studies

      GBCUnit6Ch2TitlepgSee how green building concepts are being implemented with GEF's Case Studies! 

      AIA Portland Center for Architecture
      Portland, Oregon
      The American Institute of Architects' new home achieved the highest rating of USGBC's LEED certification program without high-tech strategies by focusing on reusing existing materials. 

      Stewart Middle School, Sidwell Friends School
      Washington, D.C.
      The first LEED Platinum-rated K-12 school building in the world. 

      Bank of America Tower
      New York City, New York
      A recent addition to the New York City skyline, demonstrating that ecological and economic principles can be made compatible. 

      Deconstruction and Reuse Network
      Laguna Beach, California
      The Deconstruction and ReUse Network (DRN) show how deconstruction and reuse of building materials can save money and preserve natural resources. 

      Now House
      Toronto, Canada
      The transformation of a typical older house into a near-zero energy structure. 

      Terry Thomas Office Building
      Seattle, Washington
      A new four-story office building illustrating the possibilities of sustainable design. 

      Ross Street House
      Madison, Wisconsin
      A modestly-sized home that employs many features to minimize its envrionmental footprint. 

      Murray Grove Apartment Building
      London, England
      A nine-story residential building structured entirely of wood, illustrating an approach of buiilding material selection that can help achieve carbon-neutral buildings. 

      Empire State Building
      New York City, New York
      Ongoing upgrades and renovations in the historic Empire State Building reduce the building's energy use  by 38%. 

      Sunset Cliffs Residence
      San Diego, California
      Homeowners re-design the landscape to reduce water consumption.
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  • Welcome to the Sustainable Water Challenge

    SWCicon noTEXT

    Make water conservation and efficiency your National Green Week theme! 

    Signup Button

    Once you've signed up, visit the How to Participate section to make the most of your initiatives! 


    While water covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, considerably less than one percent of it is fresh water available for human use. The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day, substantially more than any other country, a factor that is contributing to the significant stress on our nation’s water resources. Current trends indicate that demands on the nation’s supplies are growing while the supply continues to be depleted at an unsustainable rate. Globally, we face monumental challenges in meeting the water demand of the current and projected population. Further compounding the problem is that the public remains largely unaware of the major issues confronting the globe’s limited water supply.

    The Sustainable Water Challenge aims to educate schools and groups on the current issues in water sustainability and the steps we need to take to help conserve Earth’s most precious resource. Through GEF’s resources, K-12 students and educators will learn the basic properties of water, water pollution and depletion, as well as methods for  water conservation. The Sustainable Water Challenge provides information on a broad range of water topics for all grade levels. As students and educators become more aware and knowledgeable of the challenges facing Earth's water supply, we can work together and do our part to reduce water consumption. 

    Consider These Statistics 

    • The average American family of four uses around 400 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 70 percent of this use occurs indoors.  
    • Around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity. 
    • In the United States, nearly 7 billion gallons of water is devoted to outdoor water use every day
    • At 1 drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons per year.
    • The water found at the Earth’s surface in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and swamps makes up only 0.3% of the world’s fresh water.
    • 1 in 8 people world wide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.

    Water Sense WEB

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    • Curriculum and Activities - SWC


      Through standards based lessons, students will be introduced to a broad range of topics on water. 



      Check out GEF's hands-on water activities for a fun, engaging way for students to learn more about water! 



      Download and print these fun and informative posters for your classroom!
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    • Recommended Reading
      Welcome to the Sustainable Water Challenge suggested reading list. Reading is a relaxing and fun way to stimulate learning and absorb important information. GEF has a list of suggested books for every age group! Browse through these recommended readings and click on the book cover to purchase them through Amazon. 







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    • Water Saving Tips
      You can save water by making small, simple changes! Learn how you can save water indoors and outdoors with GEF's conservation tips!

      Faucet with hands 


      The majority of our water use occurs indoors. Here are some simple tips on how to save water at home and at school! 



      30% of the water Americans use is outdoors. Check out some suggestions on how to reduce water use when doing yardwork, washing your car, and more!  

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  • National Green Week

    NGW Banner



    What is National Green Week?

    National Green Week is an annual event that empowers schools to engage in sustainability focused lessons, projects or activities between the first full week in February and the end of Earth Month (April). Participating districts, schools, classrooms or youth groups choose a week, then select from GEF's sustainability focused programs to be their ‘green theme.’  Each theme provides 5 day standards-based lesson sets, activities, recommended reading, sustainability tips, contests, and more! Join over 10,000 schools and 5 million students in the largest sustainability education program running!
    About National Green Week 2015

    National Green Week 2015 kicked off February 2 and runs until May 2, 2015. You choose any week until during this timeframe to be your Green Week. Participate for the whole week, a day, or just one lesson, reading or activity. Schools and groups are encouraged to take this opportunity to spend time with students discussing sustainability topics and exploring ways they can make a difference.

    It's easy, just follow these simple steps to start your program today!

    1. Become a GEF member here
    2. Pick any week between Feb 2 and May 2, 2015 to be your Green Week
    3. Select a sustainability themed program here and integrate grade specific lessons, activities and readings (located on the left menu of each theme) into your class during your chosen Green Week
    4. Complete this survey at the end of your Green Week (and be entered to win a $100 Amex gift card)
    5. Submit your program or project for a Green in Action Award (optional) prizes include $250 for your class or school

    Join the Movement, Make a Difference

    Signup Button


    All signed up? You're ready to plan your Green Week!



    Get the Start Up Kit!                                                                 





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    • Green in Action Awards

      Green in_ActionGreen In Action Awards will be granted to inspiring projects based on GEF's sustainability themes.  Winners are those schools, classrooms or youth groups who have demonstrated their commitment, creativity, or passion for sustainability in their application.  Great application materials include photos, videos, essays, or artwork describing your environmental project, weigh-in, activity, community service project, or green team program! There are so many ways to participate and make a difference so show us how YOU are a champion for sustainability! 

      Submissions will be reviewed and assessed relative to its creativity, educational value, and potential for sustainability and replication.


      Winners receive $250 for their class! They will also be featured in national news and have their application materials (such as videos, photographs and scanned artwork) shared on the National Green Week site.

      Application Deadline!

      May 2, 2015!

      Click on the menu to the left to view the 2009 - 2014 winning projects. 


      Participants must be students enrolled in grades K-12 from the US and abroad.  

      How to Apply

      1. Email us your school name, city and state and contact information and a brief description of your project.

      2. Include at least one of the following: 

      • One video up to 10 minutes long 
      • Up to ten photos* 
      • Scanned artwork 
      • Green projects/programs descriptions that took place or were launched in the current school year preferably during National Green Week 
      • Essays, poems, or other creative literary efforts (up to five examples formatted in word). 

      * To preserve the quality of the photos please submit original photo files electronically. 

      3. Submit all materials to GEF by May 2, 2015.  

      • email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


      Program Specific Ideas

      There are plenty of ways to apply for a Green in Action award, but in case you need some inspiration, check out these great program-specific ideas:

      Green Energy Challenge

      • Organize student energy brigades to monitor the school for lights-out and computer monitors-off.
      • Conduct an audit and calculate the savings possible with different strategies such as changing bulbs or lowering the thermostat.
      • Search for drafts in the school with the draft-o-meter experiment and take steps to weatherstrip and insulate.
      • Create an Energy Pledge for students and staff to sign. 
      • Organize an Energy Assembly for your class or school to discuss energy conservation and efficiency at your school.
      • Make reminders for plugs, thermostats and light switches.
      • Organize a fundraiser for your school to purchase green power or to switch to energy efficient fixtures or appliances.

      Sustainable Water Challenge

      • Have a school landscape design competition that utilizes native plants and water saving irrigation strategies.
      • Test all toilets for leaks and fix them right away. Estimate the amount of water you will save in a year. 
      • Ask students to create a pledge for saving water at home and at school. 
      • Cleanup a local waterway like these 2012 winners did.
      • Have a 'No Bottled Water' day and encourage students to bring a reusable water bottle to refill at fountains. 
      • Organize a meatless lunch and estimate how much water you saved using National Geographic's hidden water use calculator.

      I Ride Green

      • Organize a 'walk or bike to school day.' You can find great resources to start planning for a safe and successful initiative here
      • Incorporate eco-travel in an art project. Take pictures of the artwork or submit originals!
      • Investigate where your school's supplies come from and identify ways to purchase locally to avoid excess transportation emissions. 
      • Conduct one or more activities and take pictures and gather feedback from students. 
      • Create an eco-travel pledge for students and families to sign. 
      • Join the National Idle Reduction Campaign and measure the ways your school is reducing emissions and saving money.

      Green Thumb Challenge

      • Organize a garden plot design contest.
      • Create an Adopt-a-Plant campaign to improve indoor air quality. 
      • Take steps to plan a school garden or outdoor learning lab. 
      • Host a cooking contest where students can only use foods grown in the garden. 
      • Plant a themed garden such as pizza, basil pesto or salsa and then have a party to celebrate its growth.
      • Organize a school yard beautification day. 
      • Create outdoor artwork with recycled materials such as old CDs or bottles.

      Waste Reduction Challenge

      • Organize a waste free snack day or week
      • Start a recycling program at your school
      • Create artwork using plastic bottles, milk cartons or old CDs
      • Organize a Paper Brigade to ensure all printers are set to default print on two sides
      • Form a committee to update the school's purchasing policies to only buy FSC certified products
      • Work with the cafeteria staff to set up a composting program for unused and leftover food
      • Ban plastic water bottle vending at school and in meetings

      Green Building Program

      • Conducts audits of your school and identify areas for improvement
      • Visit a local LEED Certified building and have students write a case study to present to the class or school
      • Implement a Green Cleaning policy
      • Organize an Indoor Air Quality campaign to improve the quality of the air students breath at school
      • Join the Coalition for Green Schools and share healthy practices with teachers and students during an assembly or notice
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      • 2014 Green in Action

        2014 Green In Action Award WinnersGreen in_Action

        Thank you to all schools and youth groups who submitted their sustainability projects, lessons, or activities!

        A special congratulations to the Ivy Academy, Soddy Daisy, TN, whose  Live Green Project was selected as the Green in Action winner this year! As the winner, they will receive $250 for their class! 


        Congratulations to this year's semi-finalists, Pembroke Meadows Elementary School, Virginia Beach VA and Pace Academy, Atlanta GA!  As the semi-finalists, each school will receive $100 for their class!

        Check out this year’s runners up: John Allen Elementary School , Ann Arbor, MI,  Raymond S. Kellis High School, Phoenix, AZ, Ashton Elementary School, Sarasota,  FL,  Manchester Essex Green Team, Manchester, MA , Quinsigamond Elementary, Worcester, MA, and Ocean Lakes High School, Virginia Beach, VA. All will receive reusable shopping bags for their class.

        Congratulations to all of the winners and runners up!!

        The work being done nationwide around sustainability is truly inspiring and makes an enormous impact.  Projects are reviewed based on the impact on students and the community, outcomes, creativity, and sustainable nature. 

        Click the links to the right to view projects and pictures from some of the best 2014 Green in Action projects.

        NGW2013 Sprint_CC

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      • 2013 Green in Action

        Green In Action Award WinnersGreen in_Action

        Congratulations to all schools and youth groups who submitted their sustainability projects, lessons, or activities! A special congratulations to the Mendham Township Elementary School's 3rd Grade Green Team  for being selected as the Green in Action winner this year!

        As the winner, the Mendham Township Elementary School's 3rd Grade Green Team will receive $250 for their class and the teacher will be enrolled in GEF Institute's Sustainability Fellow Certificate

        Congratulations to this year's semi-finalist, Williamsburg Preparatory High School from Brooklyn, NY! As the semi-finalist, the Williamsburg Preparatory High School's Leaders for Sustainability (LFS) club will receive $100 for their school, 200 reusable shopping bags for the students and the teachers will receive "I Teach Green" t-shirts. 

        The work being done nationwide around sustainability is truly inspiring and makes an enormous impact.  Projects are reviewed based on the impact on students and the community, outcomes, creativity, and sustainable nature. 

        Click the links to the right to view projects and pictures from some of the best 2013 Green in Action projects.


        A special shout-out to our 2013 runners-up. Keep up the good work! 

        The teachers from the runners-up classes will be enrolled  in GEF Institute's Sustainability Professional Certificate

        Bharat Mata E/M School in Bilaspur, India
        USD 241 Wallace County Schools in Sharon Springs, Kansas
        Fairhope Intermediate School in Fairhope, Alabama
        Knez Sima Markovic Elementary School in Barajevo, Serbia
        Fanny Finch Elementary School in McKinney, Texas

        NGW2013 Sprint_CC
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      • 2012 Green in Action
        Congratulations to all schools and youth groups who submitted their sustainability projects, lessons, or activities! A special congratulations to Marist School Environmental Science class and the Thomas Prince PTA Green Team for being selected as Green in Action winners this year!!

        The work being done nationwide around sustainability is truly inspiring and makes an enormous impact.  Projects are reviewed based on the impact on students and the community, outcomes, creativity, and sustainable nature. 

        Click the links to the right to view projects and pictures from some of the best 2012 Green in Action projects.

        A special shout-out to our 2012 runners-up. Keep up the good work!
        Steward School in Richmond, Virginia
        Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
         Warren School in Warren, Connecticut
        Nicolae Titulescu Scoala Generala in Bucharest, Romania
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      • 2011 Green in Action

        rsz_decorating_grocery_bags_for_reuse_1Congratulations to all the schools and youth groups who entered submissions for the GEF 2011 Green In Action Awards!

        Each project demonstrated the development of sustainable habits of environmental stewardship in children and their communities. Projects were reviewed and evaluated based upon student involvement, successful outcomes, potential for sustainability, creativity, and opportunity for others to replicate the initiative.

        Click on the links to the right to check out the 2011 Green In Action Award winning projects!
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      • 2010 Green in Action

        New HopewellCongratulations to all the schools and youth groups who entered submissions for the GEF 2010 Green In Action Awards!

        Each project demonstrated the development of sustainable habits of environmental stewardship in children and their communities. Projects were reviewed and evaluated based upon student involvement, successful outcomes, potential for sustainability, creativity, and opportunity for others to replicate the initiative.

        Click on the links to the right to check out the Green In Action Award winning projects! GEF Green In Action Awards are granted to schools, classes, or groups of Green Keepers. Participants in GEF programs send in photos, videos, and/or artwork that demonstrate the impact of their participation in a GEF environmental education project or eco-challenge (i.e. National Green Week, Green Thumb Challenge, Green Energy Challenge, etc.).

        Participants can submit any of the following:

        • One video, up to ten minutes long 
        • A digital portfolio, comprising up to ten photos with captions 
        • Scanned artwork with a project description Written pieces, including essays or poems (up to five pieces, formatted in Word)


        Note: For image submissions, please do not place your photo's inside of a word document or PDF file. Rather, please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as image attachments.

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      • 2009 Green in Action
        Daisy Troop
        Congratulations to all the schools and youth groups who entered GEF's 2009 Green In Action Awards contest!

        All of the projects demonstrated learning opportunities for developing sustainable habits of environmental stewardship in children and their communities.  Projects were reviewed and evaluated based upon creativity, student involvement, successful outcomes, ongoing sustainability potential and ability for others to replicate efforts.

        Click on the links to the right to check out the Green In Action Award winning projects! Congratulations to all the award winners and honorable mentions for GEF's 2009 Green In Action Awards.
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      • Green in Action Spotlight Schools

        Do you want to be spotlighted for your National Green Week 2013 efforts? We can help you get there. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn how you can become a spotlight school!

        KidsRecyclingCongratulations to all the schools and youth groups who entered submissions for GEF Green In Action Awards!

        Each project demonstrated the development of sustainable habits of environmental stewardship in children and their communities.

        Look to the right to see many of the great submissions!

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    • Start-Up Kit

      StartUpKitOptimize your school or group's participation in National Green Week by following the easy steps below.   Don't forget - One of the most important parts of a successful Green Week campaign is sharing your stories and successes with schools across the nation so we can learn from one another. 

      Schools can choose any week from February 3 until April 25, 2014 to be their Green Week!

      Step 1:   Sign Up!

      Create a free member account with GEF. Already a member? Great, you can move onto Step 2! 


      Step 2: Pick Your Week! 

      You can choose any week between the first week of February and the end of April to be your National Green Week. Don't forget that Earth Day is April 22.  It's easy to make your Green Week projects and activities part of your Earth Day celebrations. 


      Step 3: Pick Your Theme!

      Choose from GEF's six sustainability themed programs.  The theme and scope of participation is up to you - Districts, schools, grades, and classrooms can share the same theme, or each can do something different and then gather together to present their success stories. Each sustainability theme includes free lessons, activities, tips and more! Some even have their own contests! 


      Spread the Word! 

      • Principals, send this letter to teachers to educate them on National Green Week's Sustainability Themes.  The letter will: 
        • Inform teachers about National Green Week
        • Introduce GEF's Sustainability Themes
        • Encourage participation in a Green in Action award
      • National Green Week Leaders, make your community aware of your great initiatives with this ready-to-use press release template. Simply fill in the details with your National Green Week dates, sustainability theme and project ideas to build momentum and excitement! The easiest way to share your news is through your town's site or other local news source.  
      • Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #greenweek. You can also share your photos and stories as you work on GEF's Facebook page.  

      Step 4: Pick Your Lessons! 

      Choose from a plethora of free lessons and activities to create your own 5 day lesson plan for your sustainability theme. GEF has suggested lessons for each grade level in the curriculum section of each sustainability theme. For many more options and to design your own 5 day lesson set, search in the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse.  Be sure to identify a project or lesson that is suitable for your group or school and set measureable goals.  As you work, be sure to track your progress with photos, quotes from students, videos, and artwork. 

      Step 5: Apply for a Green in Action Award!

      Share the chronicle of your National Green Week with GEF to be entered to win a Green in Action award!  Winners receive $250 for their classroom!


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    • Green Packs

      Teacher Pack1_ixg

      What does IXG stand for? I X Green: I Live Green, I Work Green, I Play Green, I Shop Green, I Snack Green, I Teach Green, I Learn Green, I Ride Green, I Eat Green, I Clean Green, I Drink Green...IXG.
      Get Geared Up with IXG!

      Green Packs are eco-friendly kits to help promote sustainability by making your efforts visible! A complete Green Pack includes a t-shirt, reusable 'I Shop Green' bag, an 'I Drink Green' water bottle, and snack containers.  Also available are 'I Drink Green' coffee mugs. Customize your own Green Pack for your school, classroom, or youth group today!  

      Follow these steps to gauge interest in ordering Green Packs at your school. Also, keep in mind that Green Packs can be a great fundraising opportunity! 

      Step 1
      Use this letter to email or send home with students to order IXG Green Packs. The fee is $18 for students and $20 for teachers - min quantity 50. Don't forget to add 8% to the total order for shipping. To learn more about IXG products, visit

      Step 2
      Complete this order form and mail or email to IXG at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Call to confirm the order at 888-668-2298. Mail order form with check including 8% shipping costs to:

      1412 North Street
      Walpole, MA 02018

      Please make sure that you send your school order form back in time for IXG to ship with a 4 week lead time or call/email IXG at 508 668 2278 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to expedite your request.

      Step 3
      Use the following distribution process to hand out Green Packs at your school:

      IXG Green Pack Distribution Process Please designate a place for Green Packs to be assembled by the students and staff. We recommend that only a few classes assemble their Green Packs at one time, with students filing in a single line. Place the t-shirts in stacks by youth and adult sizes on a table. The rest of the items can be left in the boxes they arrived in. Start with the reusable bags on the left, t-shirts next, water bottles, containers and then inserts.

      Please note that snack containers come packed in sets of five. They need to be unpacked in order for the students to select one of each. Students can easily do this with the supervision of an adult.

      Each student will first select a reusable bag, and then fill it with: (1) water bottle, (2) snack containers (1 small & 1 large), (1) I Live Green t-shirt in their size. They are now ready for the Waste-Free Snacks Challenge during National Green Week!
      Contact IXG at 508 668 2278 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions. Thank you for supporting the environment and green education!

      About National Green Week

      The goal of this nationwide event is to launch sustainability focused lessons, activiites and eco-challenges to be utilized during this week and for the remainder of the school year. In order to maximize waste reduction at schools across the nation GEF is urging schools to participate in the Waste-Free Snacks Challenge (if appropriate for your school, we understand that many schools offer free snacks to under-served children in which case this would not apply). However, GEF encourages the educators to take part in sustainabilty lessons or to participate in other GEF Eco-Challenges such as the Green Energy Challenge. Thank you for your support of sustainability education!

      For other eco-friendly IXG products visit
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  • Welcome to the Waste Reduction Challenge

    Waste Reduction_Challenge.siteicon Make waste reduction your National Green Week theme!

    Signup Button

    All signed up? Now visit the How to Participate section to make the most of your initiatives! 


    Many of us don't think about how much we throw away each day and where it ends up. We've become disconnected from the waste stream and the processes involved because it has become so easy - throw something away and never see it again!  This program is designed to make students aware of the implications of creating waste and identifies the ways we can all work together to reduce waste and recycle more.

    Did you know .... ?

     Recycling one ton of paper would:

    • save enough energy to power the average American home for 6 months. 
    • save 7,000 gallons of water.
    • save 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
    • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent (MTCE).

    Recycling paper:

    • reduces greenhouse gas emissions that can contribute to climate change by avoiding methane emissions and reducing energy required for a number of paper products. 
    • extends the fiber supply and contributes to carbon sequestration. 
    • saves considerable landfill space. 
    • reduces energy and water consumption. 
    • decreases the need for disposal (i.e., landfill or incineration which decreases the amount of CO2 produced).

    More Tidbits about Trash!

    • Each person in the United States created a daily average of 4.5 pounds (2.04 kilograms) of solid waste
    • According to a 2010 EPA estimate, Americans create roughly 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) of garbage per year. To visualize this number, imagine the RMS Titanic, which weighed 46,329 gross tons (47,072 metric tons). The United States generates more than 4,837 Titanics worth of solid waste in a normal calendar year.
    • Using recycled aluminum requires 96% less energy than manufacturing new aluminum from its virgin material, bauxite. Other commonly recycled items have a strong energy reduction when compared with the energy intensity used to extract their virgin materials. 
    • If every American recycled his or her newspaper just one day a week, we would save about 36 million trees a year.
    • For every four-foot stack of paper you recycle, you save a tree.
    • Ton for ton, recycling reduces more pollution, saves more energy and reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions more than any other solid waste management option.


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  • Welcome to the Green Thumb Challenge

    Green THUMB.siteiconGEF is calling on schools and groups to join the largest youth gardening initiative! 

    The Green Thumb Challenge aims to connect children with nature and the healthy benefits of gardening as part of a nationwide movement to get kids growing. Whether sowing seeds during one class period, planting bulbs in one afternoon, or planning an outdoor garden that comes back year after year, you and your students can be part of the movement! GEF's gardening resources provide participants with helpful materials and strategies for gardeners of all experience levels. It doesn't need to cost much money, or require many resources - it's really up to you! Every garden, no matter its size, will add beauty and life to what had been there before.

    Take advantage of the free activities and standards-based lessons linking the classroom to the garden. Kids will be excited to get their hands in the soil, to learn while using all their senses, and make real connections to classroom curriculum.

    Signup Button

    Over $10,000 worth of prizes have already been awarded to Green Thumb Challenge participants, courtesy of program sponsors.


    Lowes       Gardeners Supply_LOGO   Bonnie

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    • How to Participate GTC

      Join the Green Thumb Challenge!

      All GEF programs are free for registered members and include unlimited access to sustainability curriculum, activities, and more!

      Signup Button



      Bring some color and fresh air into your classroom by adopting a plant! GEF even provides a certificate of adoption so you can name your plant! Learn More!



      This campaign provides participants with the resources to plant gardens with the goal of aiding hunger-relief efforts. Donate your harvest to help meet the need of local food banks! Learn More!



      Any size garden makes a difference! Volunteer your time at a school or with a youth group to get involved and help kids connect with nature. Learn More!
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    • Curriculum and Activities

      GEF has a plethora of fun ways to connect sustainability education to your gardening initiatives! Check them out!



      Check out GEF's standards based sustainability lessons to get your class excited about gardening!Learn More!



      There are lots of things to do with your class or group in the garden. From science lessons to nutrition, find fun activities to try today! 
      Learn More!



      Find age appropriate reading materials to get your students excited about gardening!
      Learn More! 



      A school garden can teach children many lessons in ecology, biodiversity, and conservation. Check out GEF's resources that use the garden as a place to explore sustainability education. Learn More!
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      • Garden Activity Center
        ActivitiesIconThe Garden Activity Center is your one-stop resource for engaging garden and compost projects! Educators and youth group leaders, parents and volunteers: if you are seeking fun, hands-on activities - for sunny days or rainy days, for one hour or through the seasons - you have come to the right place.

        Consider using GEF's activities for the following:
        • Earth Day Projects 
        • Garden volunteer drop-in activities 
        • Service projects 
        • Beautification/service days 
        • Active, hands-on breaks for testing days 
        • Volunteer-lead activities/demonstrations 
        • Afterschool program/summer camp actitivies
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      • Garden as a Teaching Tool
        GardenTeachingIconA school garden can teach children many lessons in ecology, biodiversity, and conservation.  With our new garden section, Garden as a Teaching Tool, we've developed a program that uses the garden as a place to explore sustainability education.

        In this section, our guidelines will help children understand the factors that make a garden sustainable, from water conservation and native plants to composting and the use of recycled materials.  LEED accredited landscape architects from UBLA, a landscape architecture firm in Wenham, MA, have worked with GEF to create sustainable garden designs for three different budgets. The designs integrate features such as rain barrels and pollinator gardens.  

        Click on the menu on the right to access a set of guidelines for planning a sustainable garden at three different budget levels, as well as tutorials on how to construct wheelchair-accessible raised beds and bird-feeders. This could be your most sustainable summer yet! What factors make a garden sustainable?
        • Recycled materials 
        • Welcoming to wildlife 
        • Water conservation 
        • Safe fertilizers/supplements 
        • Composting 
        • Pesticide free 
        • Native plants 
        • Enviro-friendly plant signs 
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      • Reading in the Garden
        Check out our book lists to choose an age-appropriate book for your class, group, or children. If you would like to buy the book, click on the book cover to visit the Green Education Foundation “Books and Videos” page. Navigate to your book section (organized by age group) to find and select a specific book title.







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    • Gardening Resources

      Browse GEF's resources and tool to help make your garden the best it can be!



      Compost is a great way to create a sustainable garden! Learn how to take your leftovers and food waste and turn it into a nutrient rich fertilizer. Learn More!



      Keep gardening simple and use this handy guide to decide what vegetables to plant and how!  The guide also includes critical harvesting information. Learn More!



      Find out what steps to take throughout the year to make your garden as successful as possible. Learn More!



      Maintaining your garden properly is critical to a successful harvest. Find out what steps you can take to continuously improve your garden and its harvest!
      Learn More!



      From A to Z, learn all the key terms to improve your garden vocabulary!
      Learn More!
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      • Monthly Organizer
        MonthlyOrganizerIconClick the links to the right to find guidance for managing seasonal tasks!

        Read guidelines for each month to give yourself an overview of the cycles of the garden. As you will see, even the winter months in cooler climates are active with gardens tasks related to planning, fundraising, seed orders, etc.
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      • Garden Maintenance

        GardenMaintenanceIconIn almost every garden, the land is made better and so is the gardener. --Robert Rodale

        This section provides you with some Gardening 101. Given the variations from region to region, remember to refer to your local county extension office for answers to specific questions not addressed in this guide.

        As a general rule of thumb, the healthier your practices are along the way, the less problems you will have maintaining your garden. While there are exceptions to every rule, the truth is that good habits make a big difference; you know that when you eat right, exercise and take the time to smell the roses you are probably not going to need to have your doctor on speed dial. The same is true of your garden. Build a healthy soil by fertilizing with nutrient-rich compost, purchase healthy plants and be sure to water regularly (ideally first thing in the morning or in the early evening). Mulch to prevent weeds, and plant crops that attract beneficial insects (who will help you by eating up the harmful ones).

        Refer to this section for an overview of options - i.e. to learn about the various types of watering methods, mulches, and fertilzers so you can choose what is best for you - and for basic information that will help you tend to your garden's needs.

        In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. - Margaret Atwood

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      • Composting

        CompostDosAndDontsThis section demystifies compost, supplying you with everything you need to know about how compost is made, what goes in, what stays out, and just what all the fuss is about to begin with...

        Included in this section:

        • The basic components of compost & what makes it cook
        • A printable, illustrated PDF compost sign that lists the Do's and Dont's of composting. This PDF can be found directly below.
        • Instructions for outdoor build-your-own bins, covering a range of costs and resources
        • How to create an indoor worm composting bin




        Click on the above image to download a printable PDF of 'Composting Do's and Dont's

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      • Vegetable Guide
        GardenGlossaryIcon To support your efforts and help you build your self-confidence as a budding gardener, the GEF vegetable guide features 25 easy-to-grow, kid-friendly vegetables - no Latin names, no fussy varieties, just the basic rundown of what you need to know to grow these garden favorites. The GEF vegetable guide includes key planting and harvesting information. Each set of instructions is accompanied with a photograph for easy plant identification. Click below to view a printable vegetable planting and spacing chart to take out into the garden!

        Veggie Thumb
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    • Green Thumb Challenge Grant
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      • 2013 Challenge Winners

        2013 Challenge Winners

        Agrarian Picture1

        Congratulations to the students at Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor, Michigan for winning the 2013 Green Thumb Challenge grant!

        Read about their amazing project.

        GEF received many grant applications from across the country. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who submitted an entry as every garden was unique and demonstrated the amazing things that happen when children are connected with nature! 

        Be sure to read about the garden projects of the finalists, listed to the right.

        How Tappan Middle School will use the $1,000 grant award:
        • Meet with teachers to identify barriers to student participation
        • Engage an intern for hours (additional to the After School Club) for sixth grade and family recruitment activities ($600)
        • Follow teacher suggestions for targeted outreach and individual recruitment from program coordinator
        • Reach out to parents individually with reminder phone calls the day before club, follow up calls when missed club, etc. to help students stay engaged
        • Recruit and train 8th grade student to visit 6-7 grade classes to highlight the garden and after school club (materials $150)
        • Print new outreach materials ($75)
        • Assist classroom teachers with recruiting and acknowledging parent volunteers for their class initiatives
        • Pay a small stipend to the Food and Garden Club teacher sponsor through the PTSO ($75)
        • Work with PTSO to boost family involvement and address barriers to after school participation, such as transportation (carpooling, group walking)
        • Purchase supplies for seedling distribution and after school sale ($100)
        • Assess and prioritize ongoing activities for parent volunteers to ensure sustainability into the future

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      • 2012 Challenge Winners

        2012 Challenge Winners

        Congratulations to the Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York for winning the 2012 Green Thumb Challenge grant. With the $5,000 grant award, Green Chimneys School will complete necessary maintenance projects to be able to continue offering garden related curriculum and activities to their students.  Read more about their amazing project.

        GEF received over 200 grant applications from across the country. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who submitted an entry as every garden was unique and demonstrated the amazing things that happen when children are connected with nature.  

        facebook-64x64Photos from a selection of applications have been added to GEF's Green Thumb Challenge Grant Participant Facebook album. Check it out and see if your garden photos have been added. Be sure to tag yourself and your school! 

        Be sure to read about the garden projects of the 5 finalists, listed to the right. Each finalist received a large garden cart from Gardener's Supply Company to support their efforts.

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      • 2011 Challenge Winners

        2011 challenge winners

        Congratulations to Andrew Cooke Magnet School for winning a $5,000 grant from Gardener's Supply Company to help sustain their amazing project! 

        Competition was tough as GEF received over 200 submissions to the 2011 contest! GEF and Gardener's Supply Company called on schools and youth groups to submit chronicles of their garden projects in a race to win a $5,000 prize. The award is designed to support the continued sustainability of an exceptional youth garden program that has demonstrated success, and has impacted the lives of kids and their community.

        Read about Andrew Cooke and the five finalists in the 2011 Garden Spotlights to the right!

        Watch Andrew Cooke's winning video submission!

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      • 2010 Challenge Winners

        2010 challenge winners

        rsz_cte4_resizeCloser to Earth has big plans for the upcoming season! They received a substantial grant from the United Methodist Church and Rachel was able to hire 20 youth to work in the garden. The young adults who have been training all year will get to exercise their leadership skills by teaching the newcomers. The group will continue donating to food pantries and marketing food to the surrounding community and restaurants. They also have some service projects on their agenda, including traveling to food pantries and volunteering there. Additionally, the group plans to experiment with starting a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

        Closer to Earth Garden from Oklahoma City, OK, was the winner of our 2010 $5,000 grant! GEF recently followed up with garden co-coordinator Rachel Kastner to see how their season is going.

        When Closer to Earth received the GEF grant last year, the youth gardeners were thrilled and excited. They had all contributed ideas to the grant writing process, so each young gardener felt invested in the submission. Knowing that GEF wanted to support their program gave them a boost of confidence.

        After the Closer to Earth gardeners received the grant, they were largely in agreement on how it should be spent.  A large hail storm earlier in the year had damaged the greenhouse and it was in desperate need of repair. The grant helped Closer to Earth make those crucial repairs in the late fall, and as a result the gardeners were able to grow greens like salad mixes and kale all winter long. They sold half the produce to restaurants and donated the other half to a local food pantry that serves AIDS patients.



        When asked whether she felt confident about Closer to Earth’s chances of winning the grant, Rachel responded that Closer to Earth meets a unique need, which makes it stand out. She pointed out that youth gardening is taking off all over the country, but Closer to Earth is in a predominantly minority area and works with at-risk youth, which sets them apart from many of the other youth gardens.

        Congratulations again, Closer to Earth!

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      • 2014 Challenge Winners

        2014 Challenge Winners

        Agrarian Picture1

        Congratulations to the students at Kapowsin Elementary in Graham, Washington for winning the 2014 Green Thumb Challenge grant!

        Watch this video about their amazing project.

        GEF received many grant applications from across the country. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who submitted an entry as every garden was unique and demonstrated the amazing things that happen when children are connected with nature! 

        Be sure to read about the garden projects of the finalists, listed to the right.

         How Kapowsin Elementary will use the grant award:

        • Purchase dahlia tubers and other perennials that we can grow and then divide and sell at our annual Spring Garden Sale.  All monies generated from this sale go into a special dedicated garden fund with our PTA and then are used to buy things that wear out such as greenhouse plastic or hoses, gloves, tools, weed whacker string, trellis material, etc
        • Install an additional water hydrant--we have two so far but our garden is so large that a third hydrant would be ever so helpful.  Cost is at least $200.00.
        • Purchase cedar lumber for additional raised beds and/or picnic tables so the students can enjoy lessons or lunch in the garden
        • Buy a tool to make wood burned signs that the children would create to welcome visitors with positive messages such as “May All Who Enter, Come With Peace In Their Hands And Love In Their Hearts.”
        • Labelling supplies so that we are able to both keep track of what varieties of fruits, veggies and flowers we are growing and in order to educate the community on same.
        • Drip irrigation supplies so that we can conserve even more water than we already do.
        • Establish a bamboo garden so we can grow our own trellising supplies
        • Expand our herb garden or establish a tea garden


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    • Start Up Kit
      Use GEF's great garden planning resources to kick start your Green Thumb Challenge! Our helpful documents will provide guidance from obtaining administrative approval to finding a team to setting up a compost program!



      Planning a garden takes a lot of work. Use GEF's resources to help guide your decision making and planning process. Remember, a garden of any size makes a difference!
      Learn More!



      There are lots of different ways to build a garden. Check out GEF's resources to decide which type of garden is best for your school or classroom!
      Learn More!



      Learn all you need to know about planting a garden! Plus, many of these strategies can be incorporated into classroom learning projects!
      Learn More!
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      • Grow! Plant Your Garden
        PlantYourGardenBrowse GEF's resources for planting different types of plants by clicking the links to the right!

        Planting a garden is one of those activities that manages to reach even the most seemingly unreachable kids. The investment involved in tending to young crops creates a relationship between your students and the plot of land (or an 8" pot, it makes no difference!).

        When kids learn to grow for themselves, they are meaningfully connecting with nature, and learning important skills in the process. Meanwhile, a whole new selection of food choices will be folded into their lives. With the excitement of growing food comes the excitement of eating it, and nothing in a supermarket compares to the taste of sugar snap peas or ruby-red cherry tomatoes plucked off the vine. Kids can't get enough and compare them to may just have to see it for yourself to believe it.

        For information on growing specific vegetables, please see our Vegetable Planting Guide.
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      • Get Ready: Plan Your Garden
        PlanYourGarden Whether you are planning a one-day planting activity, a small classroom garden, or a large outdoor garden for your entire school community, your first steps are to consider what you want to accomplish, and what you will need to reach your goals.  Click the links to the right to find helpful tools to get started!

        For small garden projects, explore the fun, engaging garden activities available in the GEF Garden Activity Center.  Educators, you will find standards-based lessons related to gardening and composting that can be integrated into your classroom materials in the Green Thumb Challenge Curriculum section. Also be sure to visit Garden as a Teaching Tool for budget-friendly garden layouts, theme garden designs, and more!

        Once you are registered for the Green Thumb Challenge by indicating your interest in your GEF member profile, you can get prepared and generate excitement with these four simple steps.
        1. Decide what you want to accomplish.

          First, decide the type of garden you want to grow. The Green Thumb Challenge welcomes every garden project, no matter the size - from planting pansies in a pot to sowing bean seeds in yogurt containers. Maybe you want to start a large outdoor edible garden; maybe you want to grow classroom seedlings to integrate into your curriculum. How about planting bulbs outside the building in the spring, for a fun afternoon activity? The choices are endless. See Small Garden Projects and Large Garden Projects for more ideas.
        2. Thinking big? Form a team.

          Talk to administrators, custodians, and other school community members to create a plan for larger projects - visit Form a Leadership Team for steps and suggestions. If you need to seek grant funding, use the GEF grant resources, and get started now.
        3. Explore the resources and interactive tools on the GEF site.

          "Get Ready...Get Set...GROW!" The Green Thumb Challenge website is designed to provide you with the steps and instructions needed to start, care, and maintain a school or youth garden. Curriculum links, resources, garden hints, and troubleshooting tips are integrated into the site to meet your school gardening needs. In the months leading up to the Feb. 1 Green Thumb launch, familiarize yourself with the resources available to you - especially the Get Ready section, which provides suggestions for pre-planning your garden. 
        4. Share your story!

          The best way to get more kids gardening is by spreading the word, sharing insights, and connecting with peers. Email photos, blogs, and feedback about your experiences with gardening at school or in the community to be featured on GEF's website. Or simply post your own photos and comments on GEF's Facebook page! 
        GEF is excited to join you and your school community in the campaign to get kids growing, to provide hands-on learning opportunities, and to promote healthier habits in the lives of children. It is through your participation that change happens.

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      • Get Set: Build Your Garden
        BuildYourGardenGEF's first choice in Turn-Key Garden system is the use of raised beds. Because plants are grown above the ground in constructed raised beds, you can grow a garden regardless of your soil quality. Raised beds also cut back on weeding, are easy to water, and create distinguishable planting areas in a youth garden.

        Planting in ground can be a more involved process and takes some know-how – in many areas, it is crucial to test the soil to ensure safety. The up-side is the enjoyment of enriching the soil and your own land - some prefer the appearance of an in-ground garden, too.

        Using the menu to the right, you can choose from:

        1. Raised Bed Gardening (above ground, in constructed boxes)
        2. In-Ground Gardening 
        3. Container Gardening (the smallest, cheapest and most affordable option)

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