Sign Up NOW! Three Day CLIMATE CHANGE Workshop Aug 13 - 15

Sign Up NOW! Three Day CLIMATE CHANGE Workshop Aug 13 - 15

#PHLedClimateSummer

Join us for this exciting three-day professional development workshop for teachers interested in climate change and related issues of sustainability, carbon footprint, and green infrastructure. The event will include an introduction to climate change and sustainability, a screening of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel, and interactive sessions led by experts in sustainability and education. This interdisciplinary event will take place at the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Art Musuem, and the Fairmount Water Works for educators in grades 4 - 12. Register at https://bit.ly/2sAbDCU

Red Clay School Goes Green: Cooke Elementary’s Waste Audit

How much waste does one elementary school produce each lunch period? This was the question that motivated William F. Cooke Elementary School’s Talented and Gifted (TAG) program students to conduct a waste audit on March 13th. Realizing that they needed to know what they were up against before they could make a change, the students of the TAG program at Cooke set out to find exactly what was in their waste

  Cooke Elementary students predict how much waste they generate in the cafeteria before weighing each bag as part of their waste audit.

Cooke Elementary students predict how much waste they generate in the cafeteria before weighing each bag as part of their waste audit.

Teacher Christine Szegda received a grant from the Delaware Pathways to Green Schools Program. Ms. Szegda enlisted school sustainability consultants, Mary Ann Boyer and Sam York of  Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants (BSEC) to help plan and run the audit. Together, they set the date for the first waste audit on March 13th and developed an agenda for the day.

When the day came, Ms Szegda’s TAG students, the Cooke Elementary Custodial staff, BSEC, and parent volunteers came together to make the day a success. The fact that it was chili day did not deter the TAG students, who eagerly investigated the waste in order to find the information that would let them develop an action plan for reducing waste.

What the students found was staggering: the school’s 653  students in grades K - 5 produced 153 pounds of trash and 13 pounds of recycling from just one day of cafeteria waste, and 33.4 pounds of liquid waste from emptied water and milk bottles. Using these numbers, we can estimate that in one week, the school produces 653 pounds of trash, 65 pounds of recycled materials, and 167 pounds of liquid waste. Imagine what those numbers are in a school year? But this is only a single school! As parent volunteer Lisa Call said, “Imagine how much is wasted in Delaware alone, not to mention the rest of the country.”

These numbers motivated TAG students to immediately pull together plans for how to reduce the amount of waste produced. Ms. Szegda and her students will develop an action plan for making changes to reduce waste and increase recycling. They will implement changes and conduct a second waste audit in the spring to compare their results with this first one.  According to one student, "We want the cafeteria to stop using styrofoam lunch trays. They get used once and then sit in a landfill for thousands of years after!”

Students were surprised by how much food was thrown away each day. “After combing through unopened snack bags, unpeeled bananas, and half eaten lunches,” noted Ms Szegda, “they had a real ah-ha moment.”  The students learned that the average American throws out 4.4 pounds of trash a day. After seeing the food waste, students began to think about more sustainable and affordable solutions. Giving students only as much food as they will eat and encouraging students to use the "share bin" would help reduce the amount of food that would end up in a landfill each day.

The students found some positive data too: almost everything that was put into the recycling was recyclable. They now know, however, just how big their task is. Over the coming weeks, Ms. Szedga and her students will look more closely at waste and help teach others about what they can do to lessen their environmental footprint. The students will review the data from the audit and develop an action plan for reducing the waste.  Ms Szedga reflected, “Making effective change always takes hard work, but I’m sure the students will use their creative energy and enthusiasm to show others how to make Red Clay a greener place.”

Article submitted by Sam York, intern of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.

Climate Ready Philadelphia: Teaching Students About the Here & Now of Climate Change

On March 16, 2018, high school teachers from the Philadelphia School District convened at the Franklin Institute for a workshop: "Climate Ready Philadelphia: Teaching Students About the Here & Now of Climate Change" thanks to funding provided by a grant from CUSP (Climate & Urban Systems Partnership). Teacher training included helping students understand, communicate, mitigate, and adapt to climate change and prepare for a hotter and wetter Philadelphia.

 Philadelphia school teachers experiment with hands on climate change models available for free from the Franklin Institute.

Philadelphia school teachers experiment with hands on climate change models available for free from the Franklin Institute.

Dr. Rachel Valletta, CUSP’s Director and Environmental Scientist for The Franklin Institute, provided scientific information on Climate Change 101. Franklin Institute’s Curriculum Developer, Rachel Castro-Diephouse, discussed best practices for communicating climate change to students and explained that framing climate change as stories engage people at the personal level, making the information more accessible. Mary Ann Boyer of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants conducted an interactive session distinguishing between weather, climate, and climate change. National Wildlife Federation’s Regional Education Manager, Holly Shields, explained the Eco Schools program, and how Philadelphia area schools can apply for awards and receive national recognition for their green efforts. Holly gave examples of efforts already done in some schools, and small scale changes they can make that can have a large impact. Sustainability Manager, Megan Garner, of the School District of Philadelphia introduced GreenFutures, the District's sustainability plan and highlighted associated initiatives that aim to make schools and the community greener.

Teachers then experimented with The Franklin Institute’s creative, hands-on models available for teachers and community groups to borrow. George Washington High School Spanish teacher, Maria Pacheco, reflected, “Everything was equally useful. I enjoyed the effective climate change stories.” Chandra Graham of Abraham Lincoln High School noted that it’s necessary to “Stay positive about ‘changing’ climate change.” This workshop will be offered again to teachers in grades 4 - 12 on May 16 (and for more in-depth training: on August 13- 15). For upcoming teacher training events on climate change, contact Megan Garner at mgarner@philasd.org or Mary Ann Boyer at maboyer61@gmail.com.

Article submitted by Lea Senft, intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, and graduate student in Environmental Studies at University of  Pennsylvania.

Three strikes, LIGHTS OUT!!

Three strikes, LIGHTS OUT!!

It can be difficult to find ways to engage students in environmental sustainability projects, but adding some friendly competition can go a long way. The Fenn School in Concord, Massachusetts is using America’s favorite past-time, baseball, to encourage their students to be more conscious of electricity use.

SCH Academy Wins National Sustainability Award

SCH Academy Wins National Sustainability Award

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy recently earned the Green Flag award from the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program, making it the first independent school in Pennsylvania to win this award for sustainability progress. SCH’s green footprints have been purposeful over the past two decades. Its initiatives have extended from the classroom to the roofs and from the cafeterias to the Wissahickon Watershed. In 2012, the U. S. Department of Education recognized SCH as a Green Ribbon School. SCH joined the Eco-Schools USA program in order to have additional benchmarks to accelerate progress.

People, Planet, Profit: Friends’ Central School Swings for a Green Home Run

People, Planet, Profit: Friends’ Central School Swings for a Green Home Run

Friends’ Central School recently launched an energy saving project on both of its Wynnewood campuses, projected to save 38% of energy used annually. Equal to 9,100 million BTU’s, these savings are the equivalent of eliminating the carbon emissions of 3,000,000 miles driven by passenger cars, or the carbon absorption of 30,000 trees for 10 years.

How to Reduce Printer Waste at Your School

How much paper do you use in a single year? A single piece of paper doesn’t seem like much - but it can quickly add up. In fact, the average person in the United States uses over 700 pounds of paper products in a single year! That means the average American will go through nearly 2 pounds of paper a day. SCH Academy students and faculty tackled the school’s printer waste in their “Think Before You Print Campaign.” 

Getting Students Unplugged and Outside

Getting Students Unplugged and Outside

Mary Ann Boyer and Kristin Kaye of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants presented "Science and Storytelling: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Environmental Literacy" at the NSTA’s conference in Baltimore earlier this month. Boyer and Kaye shared their experiences on how scientific observation and storytelling open students’ eyes to the natural world. "Getting students outside and unplugged is important to their connection with nature," notes Boyer.

Save the Date: Upcoming Events for School Sustainability Champions

Save the Date: Upcoming Events for School Sustainability Champions

The first PAISBOA Sustainability Group meeting of the school year will be held at AIM Academy on Thursday, October 26th from 5:15 - 7:30 pm (dinner included). New members are always welcome!


DVGBC and the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (DESEU) will host a Green Schools workshop on Wednesday, October 4th at the DuPont Environmental Education Center in Wilmington, DE. 

Transforming Schoolyard Habitats and Nature Play Spaces Offer Students More than Exercise

  William Cramp Community School's new playspace.

William Cramp Community School's new playspace.

This spring, Boyer Sudduth worked with PA Green and Healthy Schools Partnership (PAGHSP) on a series of educational webinars and workshops for school administrators, teachers, and staff focused on efforts to “green” schools. On April 6, 2017, PAGHSP featured a webinar called “Transforming Schoolyard Habitats and Nature Play Spaces,” which can be viewed below.

In the webinar, Director of Interpret Green & Neighborhood Nature Works in Philadelphia, Craig Johnson, and Sr Policy Advisor for the MD Dept of Natural Resources, Sandi Olek, share their expertise on creating wildlife habitats and nature play spaces for schoolyards, playgrounds, and parks. Sandi shows examples of innovative play environments built from natural elements. Craig illustrates excellent examples on how schools can enhance outdoor playspaces by adopting guidelines from National Wildlife Federation to create innovative “learning landscapes.” These landscapes can include pollinator gardens, bird feeders and houses, bug magnifier posts, sundials, compass roses, naturecams, and weather stations for environmental education and free-play exploration. Here, children can study nature and enjoy recreation in the same location. Craig and Sandi also shared a list of kid-friendly nature tools for observing and recording critters.

According to Craig, nature habitats help playspaces come alive. Craig’s work with Philadelphia’s William Cramp Community School gives students direct and daily access to the wondrous web-of-life. Birds, butterflies, bees, beetles, bats, and a host of native plants provide endless opportunities for children to connect with nature and each other. Craig notes, “Within two days of installing the bird feeders, mourning doves, sparrows, and finches were singing in schoolyard.” Another teacher reflects, “I have been here for 20 years. This is the first time I have ever seen birds at this school. The students are so delighted.” 

In competition with television, phones, and video games, “unplugged” outside time is critical to a child’s playtime and development now more than ever. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of unstructured free play as an essential part of children’s physical and mental health and social development. Click here for a link to the webinar.

  A William Cramp student in the school's new garden.

A William Cramp student in the school's new garden.

 

Article submitted by Emily Tronson, a junior majoring in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and English Literature at the University of Rochester who is currently interning at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.

Area Schools' Sustainability Leaders Convene at EA

On April 26th, PAISBOA held its second meeting of the year, entitled “Journey to Sustainability: The Ebbs & Flows” at Episcopal Academy (EA) in Devon, PA. EA's Director of Operations, Mark Notaro, and Win Shafer, EA’s Science Teacher and future Sustainability Coordinator, led the group of 18 members from eight area schools and sustainable business managers on a tour of EA’s Doolittle Greenhouse, community garden, chemical-free landscape, green roof, and on-site industrial sized composter.  

After the tour, the group enjoyed a sustainably sourced dinner followed by a discussion facilitated by Mary Ann Boyer, co-founder and principal of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.  The conversation focused around strategies that will help school representatives and business leaders be mindful and proactive when planning future meetings.  Members also had the opportunity to network and share stories of their journey to sustainability.

Participant Roderick Wolfson of St. James School reflected, “I appreciated seeing the recent construction around campus and the candid presentation from Mark about what works and what doesn’t.”

The PAISBOA Sustainability Group will reconvene in the fall and continue its mission to share information among the group of engaged, insightful and highly motivated individuals to improve our schools, communities and environment. For more information about future meetings, contact Mary Ann Boyer at maboyer61@gmail.com or Al Greenough at agreenough@paisboa.org.

Written by: MaryKate O'Brien, intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants. Published in the PAISBOA Friday Flyer on May 5th. Read the flyer HERE.

 Group members explore EA's community garden and discuss maintenance strategies for sustainability initiatives on campus. 

Group members explore EA's community garden and discuss maintenance strategies for sustainability initiatives on campus. 

How To Fund your Green Project

Thinking about bringing extra money to your school? Here are six tips to get you started on your grant writing venture!

1. Know Your Audience

Get to know your funder’s mission and purpose of the grant. Don’t be afraid to “toot your own horn” about your past accomplishments. Highlight how your project will align with the funder’s mission. It never hurts to set up a face-to-face meeting or a phone call to learn more about the grant opportunity. This gives the funder a chance to get to know you better. Take time to research about past grant recipients to gauge whether you would be a strong match.

2. Can the Project Be Sustained?

Awarding a grant is a type of financial investment to promote the funder’s mission and goals. Therefore, funders want to make sure they are supporting a “sustainable” organization that will continue on even after the grant has been used.

Demonstrate that you are proactive in securing other funds and resources:  

  • List grants you have applied, even if you were not selected

  • If possible, match the grant - whether it’s through another grant, fundraising, or donations

Community support will help your organization withstand difficulties and thrive. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Partner organizations

  • Volunteers and their skills and expertise

3. Details, Details, Details

Be as specific as you can about how you are going to spend the grant money.

  • Poor example: “The funds will be used to purchase materials we need for composting leftover food from the dining hall.”

  • Better: “The funds will be used to purchase a composter and to print and laminate signage about composting designed by students.”

  • Even Better: An easy to read, itemized chart. Bulleted description and photo of each item may be helpful as well.

4. Be Concise

While it is important to be specific, it is just as important to make your application easy to read and process. The grant reviewer will be reading a number of other applications and unnecessary language or “fluff” takes away from the clarity of your project.

  • Use bullets, charts, lists

  • Include images: pictures are worth 1,000 words when used right

  • Make every word count

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Different

The history or specific needs of your community can set your application apart from others. Need is more than just economics - it can also include access to resources, health disparities and social justice. Your application becomes stronger and more convincing when you demonstrate how the grant will address the unique needs of your community.

6. Be Enthusiastic

Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm for your project. It is reassuring for the funders to know that their grant award will be appreciated and spent responsibly.

Here is an on-going grant to check out: Donors Choose. This organization connects your classroom to a community of donors who fund classroom projects.

No grant is too small to help your idea grow into a successful project!

Written by Grace Yi, a Nature Preschool Teacher at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants

Resources Used:

  • How to Apply for Grants: 1-2. KidsGardening, 2016. Print.
  • School Garden Grant Writing Suggestions: 1-7. Whole Kids Foundation, 1 June 2014. Web.
  • Picture: Nonprofit News: Grant-writing Survival Tips for Counselors. Web.

A Composter Bin: The Newest Member of NFA Dining Hall

Norwood-Fontbonne Academy (NFA) received a Weavers Way Green Community Projects grant in March 2017. This grant supports a larger initiative to reduce waste, increase recycling and composting, and teach students to minimize their impact on earth. With grant funds, NFA will purchase a new composter that can hold up to 267 gallons of food and yard waste. According to NFA’s chef Annie Bercaw, “We are excited to significantly reduce NFA’s waste production and divert our compostable garbage using this new composter.” Adds Mrs. Nancy Peluso, the Director of Lower Grades, "We are thrilled to receive the Weavers Way Grant as it provides hands-on learning opportunities and supports our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

Published in the Chestnut Hill Local on April 20, 2017, Page 11. Written by Grace Yi, a Nature Preschool Teacher at Schulykill Center for Environmental Education and intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.  

 Annie Bercaw of Apple Annie's Catering shows the food waste scraps that can be composted.

Annie Bercaw of Apple Annie's Catering shows the food waste scraps that can be composted.

Not Your Grandmother's Gingerbread House

Not Your Grandmother's Gingerbread House

What do you get when you pair a future environmental engineer, an aspiring architect, some gingerbread and frosting? Not your grandmother's gingerbread house, but a sustainable one.  Mary Ann Boyer met with Hill School students in the Eco Action Club to conduct a workshop on green buildings. Students incorporated lessons learned by building "green" gingerbread houses.