Project Learning Tree’s Green Schools! Program

On January 19th, four NM schools sent representatives to a training by Al Stenstrup of Project Learning Tree and Vicki Arthur of the Forest Service Conservation Education offices in Washington D.C. The schools are Desert Ridge and Madison Middle Schools, Coronado Elementary School and Rio Grande School.

After the training, the students have done the following things to green their schools.

Coronado Elementary School is creating a documentary with the four original green team members. Each member will specialize in one subject: water, energy, waste, and life cycles. They are also taking field trips and conducting offsite research. This all ties into the GreenSchools! onsite investigations, as we gain a better understanding of where our water, electricity, and food come from and where our water, waste and compost end up.

Rio Grande School has:

  • completed the investigations in the GreenSchools! book
  • used i-tree to do a tree survey (over 300 trees)
  • done an energy audit of several buildings on campus
  • formed a partnership with SFCC Energy Star Academy
  • graphed their energy use
  • adopted a section of the Santa Fe river
  • built a compost center on campus
  • planned a lights off and a recycling day for the school
  • built and planted a window farm (see photos)
  • committed to using only green cleaning supplies
  • Grades 1-5 will each take on one of the themes and do a project: 1st grade is water, 2nd is school site, 3rd energy, 4th is environmental quality, 5th is waste and recycling.

To find out more about this program, see and contact Jean Szymanski, Regional Conservation Educator, USDA Forest Service, NM PLT Coordinator, at or (505) 842-3325.

Photos courtesy of Deb Thrall.

This information was originally published in EE Connections for Spring 2012 [PDF].