On April 23rd the California Department of Education announced the 2018 California Green Ribbon Schools Award honorees. Carrisa Plains Elementary in the Atascadero Unified School District received Silver Level recognition. It is the second school in San Luis Obispo County to earn a Green Ribbon School Award. Carrisa Plains is unique because it is a very small rural school with the ability to create the school environment that they envision. They show commitment across all three of the Green Ribbon Pillars.
Pillar I: reducing Environmental Impacts and Costs
Carrisa Plains has an updated facility that is energy efficient and powered by an onsite array of solar panels. Water use in the garden was reduced after the installation of rain barrels, made possible by a grant from the Gateway to Green Schools program. The rain barrels we purchased with the gateway to green schools grant, Todd Hansen presented the check to thr principal at an Atascadero school board meeting in Feb 2017.
Waste is reduced through using refillable water bottles, recycling, and composting food waste from lunch in worm bins. Although biking to school is not possible at Carrisa Plains, students learn how to safely ride bicycles through a partnership with SLOCOG and the Safe Routes to School programs. Green School's Committee member Sarah Trauger from SLOCOG and Rideshare worked with Carrisa on setting up the bike safety programs. Carrisa Plains has six bicycles, holds annual Bike Rodeos, and is installing a Bike Garden this Summer.
Carrisa Plains students using the school’s rain barrels purchased with a grant from CCGBC!
Pillar II: Health and Wellness
Carrisa Plains has several policies in place to maintain the health of the human population as well as the environment. Cleaning chemicals are used sparingly, purified drinking water is provided, physical education includes the use of: bicycles, disk golf equipment, and yoga mats. Students learn to care for their own bodies through nutrition presentations and cooking in the school kitchen. They learn to care for the environment through their work in the school garden and composting system.
Students and staff work together to maintain the school’s worm composting system
Pillar III: Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education
Students at Carrisa Plains receive most of their environmental education in the school garden. All grade levels share responsibility for maintaining the garden beds, greenhouse, chicken coop, and composting system. In 2015 or 2016 One Cool Earth, a Green Schools partner organization, helped to set up their composting system. This hands-on experience is paired with an inquiry based online curriculum called Mystery Science.
The students love working in the school’s greenhouse and learning to grow their own food!
Green Schools promotes the school's achievements by putting up display boards at various events like the Monterey Road showcase, STEAM ally at Farmers in SLO, and Earth Day. Last year the display boards of all the various school's achievements went on tour so that the school's could share the accomplishments with anyone who spent time on campus.
If you are involved in a school that could use some sustainable improvements of any kind, or is already an awesome school that deserves recognition -- get in touch with our Green School's Committee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and they will help to guide any next steps.
Article written by Amanda Shere
Amanda works with Gateway to Green Schools as a Green School Committee member and also works for the Cuesta Sustainability Resource Center as the Sustainability Education Specialist providing NEED science kits on renewable energy for K-12 public schools in San Luis Obispo County. Monterey Road principal Julie Davis and Amanda consulted on Carrisas 2018 Green Ribbon.Amanda represented at the awards announcement in April 2018.