Professional Development

Save the Date!

The Green Schools Conference and Expo (GSCE) is coming to Atlanta in 2017.

Register to attend the 2017 GSCE to advance healthy, high-performing green schools! The 2017 conference is scheduled for March 21-22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Gather with green school champions for two days of learning and collaboration to support our shared mission of equitable, healthy, and high-performing schools, where students can learn how to sustain and improve the world around them. Make plans to attend today…we look forward to seeing you in Atlanta! Registration and travel information can be found on the official conference website:


Be a Catalyst for Change…Become a Green Schools National Network Member

The green schools movement is the most critical education reform initiative of our time. Through the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) membership program, you can show your support and become a catalyst for change for green schools everywhere.


GSNN’s membership program is designed for leaders (like you!) who use sustainability to drive innovation in their classrooms, schools, or school districts. As a member of the program, you will learn from and be inspired by the people who are transforming schools across the country.


Choose from 5 different levels of membership: Individual, Nonprofit, preK-12 School, School District, or Corporate.  Each level comes with its own set of benefits and discounts, some of which include: professional publications, discounted Green Schools Conference and Expo registration, discounted and free professional development opportunities, networking opportunities, and discounted fees for GSNN school and district coaching.


Visit GSNN’s membership website to learn more and sign up.


Children & Nature Network’s International Conference and Summit 

The 2017 Children & Nature Network International Conference and Summit will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from April 18 – 21, 2017. The 2017 conference theme, “Kids Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids,” reflects the Network’s goal of ensuring that all children have access to the many benefits of nature — and the need to inspire new generations of environmental stewards.  The conference will promote meaningful, cross-sector engagement to create a world in which all children have access to nature in their daily lives by:


  • Presenting evidence about the role that nature plays in healthy childhood development
  • Sharing best and promising practices
  • Providing actionable tools and resources
  • Exploring and advancing strategies for policy change
  • Including representation from diverse voices, backgrounds, and sectors
  • Inspiring participants to take personal/professional action to increase nature access for children, families, and communities around the world
  • Strengthen connections and relationships in the growing international community of children and nature advocates


Registration is now open!  Learn more about attending the conference, including travel information, on the conference website.


Citizen Science Association 2017 Conference 

The 2017 Citizen Science Association Conference will be held May 17-20 in St.Paul, Minnesota.  The conference provides a venue for citizen science researchers, practitioners, community members, and theorists to come together and share knowledge and best practices in the interest of advancing the field of citizen science.  Educators engaging in citizen science in their classroom are encouraged to attend and take advantage of the workshops, events, and networking opportunities offered during the conference. More information about registration, hotels, and travel can be found on the conference’s website.


Community Works Institute 

Community Works Institute (CWI) supports and promotes exemplary teaching strategies and practices for K-16 educators and community programs that support students in becoming caring, responsible, and active members of their communities.  CWI offers a variety of professional development opportunities for K-16 and community-based educators in the United States and internationally, including on-site trainings, retreats, coaching, and consulting.  Their signature offering is a series of summer institutes that integrate field-tested service-learning best practices and principles of sustainability to engage K-16 students in academically based service that contributes to sustainable communities.


CWI is now offering super early bird rates for each of its 2017 summer institutes.  Its East Institute will be held in Burlington, Vermont from June 19-23, and its West Institute will be held in Los Angeles, California from July 24-28.  Visit the website to learn more about these professional development opportunities and to register.


Green Schools Alliance 

Green Schools Alliance is an international organization that advances student success and saves schools resources by fostering whole school sustainability. Originally developed as a network created by schools for schools, the Alliance has evolved to provide integrated and organized support to students, school professionals, schools, and districts to foster sustainability work.

All of the Alliance’s programs are scaled and developed from member ideas to make them more accessible for other member schools. The Alliance conducts work via its international coalition of schools, rooted in the idea that collaboration among schools brings the greatest change for sustainable learning environments and communities. They:

  • promote student success through leadership training, project-based learning, and a support system.
  • inspire school professionals through access to training, resources, and a community of fellow sustainability champions.
  • provide schools with tools to accelerate whole school sustainability efforts through collective purchasing power, access to resources, and reporting and recognition systems.
  • offer districts the programs to leverage high-volume purchasing power, foster collaborative communication, and gather system-wide information on school efforts.


Learn more about upcoming events and training programs.


Green Strides Webinar Series Calendar 

The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities with the tools they need to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  It provides all schools access to the resources that help them move toward the Pillars of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award.  Sign up for Green Strides Webinar Series email updates to receive information on future webinars.


Green Teacher Webinar Series 

Place-based Education

Presenter: Amy Demarest

Wednesday, February 1st 2017 7:30-8:30pm EST


In contrast to so much of schooling that is presented with little or no context, place-based education offers educators opportunities to build skills, knowledge, and aptitudes with engaging storylines. Places—natural and built, rural, urban, and suburban all provide compelling narratives which students can investigate as they build the many points of understanding and proficiencies required in K-12 schooling. The presentation will include examples and discussion about what constitutes excellent place-based curriculum and student work, and how these authentic products inspire deep learning.


Teachers are often challenged to incorporate the inspiring examples of place-based education into their daily plans. With a focus on curriculum design, Amy will offer strategies and examples of different ways to build meaningful learning opportunities grounded in the local community. Amy will present the foundational elements of place-based education that educators can use to more intentionally design community-based curriculum. These elements serve as inspiration and multiple entry points for educators–classroom teachers and non-formal educators — to creatively weave together personal engagement, mastery of subjects, understanding of place, and acts of service. These elements are reflected in these four questions:


How can I better relate school to my students’ life experience?

How can I help students better understand how this big idea works in the real world?

How can I help students better understand this place?

How can I help students better understand themselves and their possible futures?


The Power of Positive, Inspiring Solutions

Presenter: Guy Dauncey

Monday, February 20th 2017 7:30-8:30pm EST


Judging by Guy’s experience speaking in high schools, the new generation, following Gen X and the Millennials, is Gen W – Generation Worry. When he asks students: “When you think about the future of our world, what do you feel – Hope or Worry?” Very few hands go up for “hope”—almost all go up for “worry.” Our need as educators is to generate hope – to turn Gen W into Gen H.

The webinar will showcase the power of positive, inspiring solutions to the worries that are causing so many young people to lose hope, including the climate crisis, the wider ecological crisis (which includes the oceans filling up with plastic), and larger economic and political worries. It will show how, using a positive three-step approach, you can turn worry into hope, and then into action.


Nature Based Education Summer Institute 

The University of Maine – Farmington will be hosting a Nature Based Education Summer Institute from June 23 – 24, 2017.  Registration for the Institute opens in February 2017.  Sessions will be interactive and outdoors, and appeal to a range of educators working across age levels and settings.  The Institute is designed for educators-in-training as well as those who have extensive experience in the field. Opportunities to connect with colleagues will foster shared learning and exploration.


Ocean Exploration Trust Fellowship

The Ocean Exploration Trust’s Science Communication Fellowship Program immerses formal and non-formal educators in the Nautilus Corps of Exploration and empowers them to bring ocean exploration – specifically in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) – to a global audience via the Nautilus Live website.  Science Communication Fellows bring their expedition experience back to their own classrooms, organizations, and communities in the form of engaging lesson plans and activities centered around their time at sea aboard Nautilus and other vessels.  Applications are due January 13, 2017.


Shelbourne Farms 

Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization educating for a sustainable future. That means learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet.  Its home campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark.


Shelbourne Farms’ school programs staff support both student learning and professional development for educators. The ideas of place and sustainability are at the heart of its work.  Shelbourne Farms offers a variety of experiences that inspire deep connections to community, and a commitment to a healthy future.


Shelbourne Farms has a new e-book, Educating for Sustainability: Case Studies from the Field, PreK-12.  Featuring nine case studies, the book sheds light on promising practices in Educating for Sustainability and offers a compelling vision of what education can be: a pathway to create healthy and just communities, successful lives, and a more livable world.


Learn more about the e-book in this blog post.


Student Climate and Conservation Conference 2017 

The Student Climate & Conservation Congress (Sc3) is a week-long leadership training program held annually at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s National Conservation Training Center – the nation’s top environmental training facility. Participants, also known as Sc3 Fellows, spend a week studying and discussing environmental, social, and economic interconnections to address climate change and conservation challenges affecting their generation in an ever changing world.

Applications are open December 2016 through May 2017.


WHO: Current 8th – 11th Grade Students

WHEN: June 25 – July 1, 2017

WHERE: National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV

COST:  $950 if you apply by March 15

$1100 if you apply by April 15

$1250 if you apply by May 15 – Application Deadline

6 nights, all-inclusive (except transportation to DC)
Financial aid & scholarships are available.


Teach Earth Educator Fellowships 

Teach Earth is built upon the principle that every individual can contribute to a sustainable planet, regardless of scientific background or skill. Each year, talented teachers are chosen from all subject areas to work side-by-side with world-class scientists on field research expeditions around the world.

From the edge of the Arctic to the coast of Maine, these teachers collect data on climate change, ecology, wildlife, and more. Teachers have the opportunity to learn the scientific process first hand and help to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Teachers return to the classroom with new perspectives and knowledge, invigorated and inspired to share the experience of real discovery with their students.

A Teach Earth Fellowship includes the full cost of your assigned expedition, including meals, accommodations, and on-site transportation. Fellows also receive a travel award grant to offset out-of-pocket travel expenses to and from the expedition site. Travel award value varies by project location.

After completing an interest form, qualified teachers will be invited to apply by December 18, 2016.



Experiential Tools: Resources for Teaching and Group Facilitation 

Experiential Tools was founded by author and educator Jennifer Stanchfield in an effort to provide educators with quality, unique, and user-friendly methods to enhance learning, increase engagement, build community, facilitate group development, and engage learners in meaningful reflection and dialogue.  Resources offered include consulting, professional development programs, workshops, books, and teaching and facilitation tools.  Visit the website for a list of upcoming workshops.


Facing the Future 

Facing the Future is an international program, based out of Western Washington University, creating tools for educators that equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future.  The curriculum is organized around eight sustainability big ideas:

  • Connecting with Nature
  • Equity and Justice
  • Health and Resiliency
  • Interconnectedness
  • Local to Global
  • Peace and Collaboration
  • Respect for Limits
  • Universal Responsibility


Facing the Future curriculum materials and resources are available for K-12 teachers, teachers in colleges of education, and for some community college and undergraduate classes.  All materials are developed for teachers, by teachers, with best teaching and learning practices in mind and are aligned with Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and most state standards frameworks.


Learning Lab 

A product of the U.S. Green Building Council’s The Center for Green Schools, Learning Lab provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive, project- and STEM-based curriculum that encourages student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action.


Discover best-in-class content, training, and tools. Access their curated catalogue of lesson plans, interactive projects, assessment opportunities, and other multimedia resources in English and Spanish. Lessons are mapped to meet current educational standards, and were created by educators, for educators.


School Cafeteria Discard Assessment Project 

The School Cafeteria Discards Assessment Project (SCrAP) was developed by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) – in collaboration with the School Nutrition Foundation – to quantify both food waste and related wastes (e.g. recyclables, to landfill) generated in cafeterias at K-12 schools nationally. The project aims to gather information regarding the quantity of waste generated in school cafeterias and obtain an understanding of how this waste is managed both at the school and after it is hauled away.


Would you be willing to help? We are looking for trendsetters who want to make the environment cleaner and greener while at the same time educating students.  Your participation will help guide policy and future initiatives to minimize waste generation and maximize sustainability for schools across the nation.  Specifically, we need elementary, middle, high schools and combined schools (e.g. private, charter) to participate in the program.


Watch this short video to learn more about the SCrAP Program and visit the website to register your school.  Participating schools can submit their questionnaires through the end of March 2017.

State of the River Teacher’s Guide 

The State of the River Report — developed in partnership with Friends of the Mississippi River and the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River and Recreation Area — assembles and analyzes a wealth of data, and communicates in plain terms how the river is doing to answer these frequently posed questions. The State of the River Report describes 14 indicators that illustrate the condition of the river.

The Teacher’s Guide aims to apply the content of the State of the River Report to grades 3-12 classrooms. Lessons are anchored in Minnesota state standards providing information, resources, and activities that fulfill a benchmark. By design, lessons may stand alone or be embedded in a unit of study. Field trips are not necessary to provide students with engaging, interactive, place-based experiences! The Teacher’s Guide provides lessons that educators can easily implement in their schools and classrooms.


Grants and Awards

Captain Planet Foundation 

The Captain Planet Foundation is accepting the next round of applications for small grants totaling $500-$2500.  Grant activities must be project-based, performed by youth, and have real environmental outcomes.  Visit the website to learn more about eligibility and restrictions, and to fill out an application.  The next deadline for applications is January 31, 2017.


EPA’s Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators 

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA’s 10 regions, from different states, will be selected to receive this award. The White House Council on Environmental Quality, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers this award to honor, support, and encourage educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods.

  • Teacher awardees will receive a Presidential award plaque and an award of up to $2,500 to be used to further the recipient’s professional development in environmental education. Teacher awardees will also receive a congratulatory letter from a senior official from EPA and/or the White House.
  • The teacher’s local education agency will also receive an award of up to $2,500 to fund environmental education activities and programs (and not for construction costs, general expenses, salaries, bonuses, or other administrative expenses).
  • Honorable Mention recipients will receive certificates of recognition.


Applications due March 1, 2017.


EPA’s President’s Environmental Youth Award 

The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recognize young people for protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s youth.


Each year the PEYA program honors a wide variety of projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups, and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:

  • restoring native habitats
  • recycling in schools and communities
  • construction of nature preserves
  • tree planting
  • installing renewable energy projects
  • creating videos, skits, and newsletters that focused on environmental issues
  • participating in many other creative sustainability efforts


PEYA has two parts — a regional award for Grades K-5 and a regional award for Grades 6-12. Each award-winning project will receive a Presidential plaque. All qualified applicants will receive a certificate honoring them for their efforts to protect human health and the environment.


Applications are due March 1, 2017.


Fund for Teachers 

Fund for Teachers provides educators the resources and funding they need to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences.  Funding for Teachers grant awards support a variety of projects, all designed to create enhanced learning environments for teachers, their students, and school communities.  Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $22 million in nearly 6,000 teachers.  Applications for 2017 professional development grants are due on January 31, 2017.  Learn more about the application process and what current and past fellows have accomplished on the Fund For Teachers website.



GetEdFunding is a curated collection of grants and awards created by education professionals for education professionals.  Its database was designed to be easy-to-use and reliable, and all grant and funding opportunities are updated daily.  Users can search by six criteria, including 43 areas of focus, 8 content areas, and 14 twenty-first century themes and skills, including environmental literacy.  Once registered on the site, users can save grants of interest and return to them at any time.


Lead2Feed Challenge 

The Lead2Feed Challenge is the contest component of the Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program, which challenges students to identify and use their leadership skills to complete a service project. The Lead2Feed Challenge gives students a jump start into the real world of leadership by offering comprehensive lessons aligned to standards and 21st century skills. Lead2Feed is aligned with Common Core State Standards and 21st Century Skills and meets the community service requirement for many associations, clubs, and school districts.


To participate, teachers/advisers must register their classrooms and submit completed project(s) once they have finished the 10- Lesson or 6- Lesson track.  Projects are judged each April and teams can win up to $20,000 for their charity and up to $10,000 in tech products for their school or youth club.


The Lead2Feed Challenge is open to entries all year long. Entries received by the first Friday in April each year are judged for the current contest year. Entries received after the first Friday in April are placed into the next year’s judging cycle. Full Lead2Feed Challenge Rules are here.


The NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership Grants 

The NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership Grants support public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of the following two purposes:

  • Grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes, conferences, or action research.
  • Grants to groups fund collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson plan development, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff.


Grants awards are $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study.  Applications may be submitted anytime throughout the year and are reviewed three times a year, every year.  Deadlines for applications are February 1, June 1, and October 15.


NSTA’s Shell Science Lab Program 

Shell and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have partnered to recognize outstanding middle and high school programs for their exemplary approaches to science lab instruction utilizing limited school and laboratory resources. The Shell Science Lab Challenge showcases the work of teachers, representing their schools, who submit innovative, replicable strategies to deliver quality lab experiences with limited equipment/resources, and award teachers/schools with additional tools, resources, and rich professional development opportunities needed to support high-quality science teaching and strengthen their existing capabilities.  To be eligible:

  • Applicants may be individual teachers or teams of teachers of science in grades 6-12, in the United States and Canada, representing their schools.
  • A teacher is limited to one application per year (whether submitting as an individual or team applicant).
  • A school may submit an unlimited number of applications.


The Shell Science Lab Challenge national winners will be honored during a black-tie dinner gala on March 31, 2017 in Los Angeles, California, at the NSTA National Conference on Science Education.  The grand prize winner will receive a lab makeover support package valued at $20,000.


Applications are due by 11:59PM EST on January 23, 2017.


The Shell Science Teaching Award 

A partnership between Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), this award recognizes one outstanding classroom teacher (grades K–12) who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and the community through exemplary science teaching.  The recipient of the Shell Science Teaching Award will receive $10,000, as well as an all-expense-paid trip (along with the two finalists) to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. All three will be honored at the Awards Banquet. The recipient will also be recognized at the Teacher Awards Banquet. The 10 semifinalists will receive certificates of distinction.  Completed applications must be received by January 6, 2017.