Green Schoolyards America featured in the Mountain View Voice!

Green Schoolyards America featured in the Mountain View Voice!

Sharon Danks, Green Schoolyards America’s CEO, was honored to speak with the Mountain View Whisman School District’s school board at their meeting this month. Her presentation described the benefits of greening school grounds for both children and the local environment, and generated a lively dialogue. The Mountain View Voice published an article reporting on the event:

Read More

A Win for Sustainable Schools as part of California Climate Investment Plan

A Win for Sustainable Schools as part of California Climate Investment Plan

California’s climate action law (AB32) includes an innovative market-based mechanism to lower greenhouse gas emissions called “cap and trade.” The California Air Resources Board, in collaboration with a number of state agencies, is organizing investment strategies for the next three years. In the first draft investment plan, schools were not included as investment priorities and were not eligible for most of the funding programs.

Today, December 17th, Katrina Ortiz from Green Schoolyards America and Deborah Moore from Green Schools Initiative spoke at the California Air Resources Board’s public hearing about their 2016-19 second draft investment plan. 

Read More

Upcoming Midwest Activity Guide

Upcoming Midwest Activity Guide

We’re happy to report that we now have 26 Midwest organizations on board to contribute activities to the 2016 Living Schoolyard Activity Guide - Midwest Edition!

We’re glad that so many amazing organizations from across Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Iowa have joined us so far. We’re looking forward to including more voices in the coming weeks!

As you may have heard, we’re in the midst of raising funds to make sure we are able to complete this guide—and we need your help! 

Read More

Research Pitch Champion!

From left to right: Bill Orr (Executive Director, CHPS), Sharon Danks (CEO, Green Schoolyards America), Bevin Ashenmiller (Associate Professor, Occidental College), Nate Allen (Center for Green Schools, U.S. Green Building Council) 

Great news! We were awarded a grant for our new research project to study the costs and benefits of city-wide green schoolyard programs! 

Green Schoolyards America’s CEO, Sharon Danks, and our partner, Prof. Bevin Ashenmiller (Occidental College) participated in a competitive research pitch in front of a live audience at the Research Summit on Childhood Health and School Buildings in Washington, DC last week—and WE WON! The event was hosted by the US Green Building Council, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools and the American Institute of Architects as part of their Green Build conference. We are honored to be selected and look forward to beginning our work soon. 

California’s Brand New Environmental Literacy Initiative!

California’s Brand New Environmental Literacy Initiative!

Green Schoolyards America is proud to announce California’s Environmental Literacy Plan! Yesterday, our CEO Sharon Danks attended the launch event in San Francisco. Legislators and educators from across the state came out to celebrate.

Sharon was on the Environmental Literacy Task Force that wrote the report, along with 46 other experts in the green school grounds and environmental education fields. This document emphasizes the importance of teaching kids about the world they live in and getting hands on experience in outdoor settings. Not only does getting outside support physical and mental health, it teaches us about the natural systems that support our everyday lives. 

Read More

Inspiring School Grounds Conference coming up in September!

Join us in Bali (September 28th - 30th, 2015) for the 4th International School Grounds Conference - the first of its kind to be held in AustralAsia. 

Visionary leaders of the school ground movement from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and North America will share their experiences, case studies and best practices. Participate in this exciting conference to learn more about cutting edge school grounds, meet like-minded colleagues and organizations from around the world, share ideas, tour fantastic local school grounds and be inspired to bring new ideas to your own community.

Learn more here.

Schoolyard Habitat Workshops for Teachers in San Diego

Schoolyard Habitat Workshops for Teachers in San Diego

Thanks to a grant from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE),SD Children and Nature, SD Master Gardeners and Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting partnered to host two training workshops on Creating Schoolyard Habitats for Play and Learning. Over 50 teachers attended the workshops to learn about designing and utilizing schoolyard wildlife habitats. Three more workshops will be offered in the Fall. 

The workshops took place at San Diego Botanical Garden, Encinitas, CA and the Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden.

Read More

Spring Valley Elementary Builds Raised Garden Beds!

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

Spring Valley community members and students ended the year by adding raised vegetable beds to their living schoolyard.

See more information on Spring Valley’s blog.


Contributed by Rachel Pringle, Senior Director of Programs, Education Outside
Photos by Taryn Colonnese, Education Outside Corps Member

San Francisco, CA

National Green Schoolyard Summit in Chicago

Green Schoolyards America was represented at the National Green Schoolyard Summit in Chicago on May 12th and 13th. Sharon Danks gave a joint presentation with Professor Bevin Ashenmiller (from Occidental College) about their ongoing cost-benefit analysis of green schoolyards.

More information on National Green Schoolyard Summit’s website.

View Dr. Bevin Ashenmiller & Sharon Dank’s slide presentation here.

Sheet Mulching Project at Sequoia Elementary

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

This May, StopWaste led a lawn replacement at Sequoia Elementary. They had help from the community and the California Conservation Crew. 

StopWaste recommends these 5 steps for sheet mulching:

1. Prepare the site. Knock down or mow existing vegetation so that it lies flat. Remove only woody or bulky plant material.

2. Plant the larger plants. Before installing the sheet mulch, plant any 5 gallon or larger plants specified in the design.

3. Add a weed barrier. The next layer is an organic weed barrier that breaks down with time. It is essential that the barrier is permeable to water and air. Do not use plastic. Cardboard rolls are best with 8″ of overlap minimum.

4. Layer compost and mulch. This layer mimics newly fallen leaves, needles and other organic matter in forests. Good materials for this layer include chipped plant debris, tree prunings, leaves and straw.

5. Plant the smaller plants. Punch a hole in the cardboard and place plants in the soil under the sheet mulch. Smaller plants can often be planted right into the mulch/compost layer. 

More information can be found at StopWaste.org and in the 2015 Living Schoolyard Month Activity Guide.

Contributed by Cassie Bartholomew, Program Manager, StopWaste.
Photos by David Fenton

Oakland, CA

Students Learn about Bees through Firsthand Experience

Alice Fong Yu K-8 in San Francisco partnered with Planet Bee Foundation to place and maintain a live bee hive in their living schoolyard! Kindergarten and first graders enjoyed observing a frame from the school’s bee hive and had fun identifying the different parts of dead bees. 

Then they learned the basics of pollination through a fun game: each student received a pipe cleaner bee and then searched the garden for flowers to pollinate. After finding a flower their pipe cleaner “bees” were covered in pollen and they returned to their “bee hive” (egg carton) to deposit the pollen into cells. Third and fifth graders also looked at the hive and learned more about the honey bee life cycle. 

And lastly, the middle school Green Club students extracted honey from the frames. They scraped off the wax and then strained the honey over the weekend. They put the honey in jars and had enough honey for every student to take one home.

Learn more on Education Outside’s Alice Fong Yu School Blog


Contributed by Rachel Pringle, Senior Director of Programs, Education Outside.
Photos by Education Outside Corps Member, Kristin Owyang

San Francisco, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

Presentation at Occidental College

On May 27th, Green Schoolyards America and Occidental College co-hosted a celebration of Living Schoolyard Month in Los Angeles, CA. The evening included: a presentation by Sharon Danks of vibrant schoolyard examples from around the world; networking time; and a discussion with audience participation about how to create more living schoolyards throughout the LA region. This free public event was attended by a dynamic group of leaders from local school districts, facilities departments, public agencies, nonprofits, and design firms, and engaged teachers, PTA representatives and community members.

The green schoolyard slide presentation given by Sharon Danks at this event was recorded and will be available on our website’s resources page by the end of June.

Please contact us at info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org if you’d like to host a similar event in your region in the future.

Occidental Arts Celebrated Living Schoolyard Month with Dr. Ming Wei Koh

On May 26th, the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC) invited School Garden, Living Learnscape and Ecological Literacy champions to join us for an evening of celebration of their dedicated service at the Salmon Creek School in Occidental.

Special guest Dr. Ming Wei Koh of the Kohala Center and Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) shared an international perspective on the role of garden-based learning in living schoolyards around the world. A Montessori educator with her PhD in Sustainability Education, her dissertation is an inspiring reference: Discovering Learning, Discovering Self: the effects of an interdisciplinary, standards-based school garden curriculum on elementary students in Hawai'i.

More information about OAEC’s events can be found here.


Contributed by Vanessa Carter, Resilient Schools Program Director, Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC)
Photos by Vanessa Carter

Occidental, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  
—GSA

Rainwater Cistern at Manor Elementary School

Our cistern holds 3,000 gallons of rainwater. We use this water to water our Pollinator garden. We know that we are not using water from [the municipal water department] when we use the water from our cistern. We bring our one-gallon jugs from home to reuse as watering cans. 


Contributed by Laura Dax Honda, Teacher, Manor Elementary School
Photos by Laura Dax Honda

Fairfax, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA