On Friday. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell presented a $6,000 check to Barnard Elementary School during Earth Day festivities that included building raised bed gardens, planting vegetables and showcasing the school’s outdoor classroom in Washington, D.C. “Earth Day reminds us that we need kids who understand the importance of the environment. Kids who get outdoors to have fun and explore nature,” Chief Tidwell said to more than 60 people gathered for the festivities. “We need schools that help connect kids to nature. Barnard Elementary School is that kind of school.”
Barnard is part of Project Learning Tree’s GreenSchools!, a partnership between the Forest Service and the American Forest Foundation. The concept behind GreenSchools! is student involvement and leadership in investigating their school’s environmental issues then reaching out to their community to help create green and healthy learning environments.
The school is succeeding. They even have the support of Mark Haskell, a master chef and garden, which helps students learn about proper nutrition as they learn how to be gardeners.
The money presented to the school will help complete the outdoor garden, among other projects.
Students will give the fruits and vegetables from the garden to organizations such as Martha’s Table, which helps to feed homeless and low-income people. The outdoor classroom will provide a space for service learning opportunities that will teach them not only how to plant a garden but why it is important to do so.
The Forest Service partnership with Project Learning Tree and the creation of Green Schools! fits with two key priorities of President Obama’s administration.
Let’s Move Outside!, a comprehensive initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, has set a goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles. This Obama administration priority is fundamentally changing the conversation about how we eat and stay active, helping to ensure future generations are ready to win the future.
President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative is a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda to create partnerships between the federal government and American communities on locally led conservation initiatives that protect our outdoor spaces and make them accessible to American families.