DATE: November 14, 2017
Vero Beach, FL – November 14, 2017 – Pelican Island Elementary earned its “Green Apple” designation in the Florida Green School Designation Program.
“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recognizes schools that make a commitment to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources through the Green School Designation Program. The Program’s environmental guidelines help Florida primary and secondary schools evaluate operations, set goals, and take specific actions to improve environmental performance. Designated Green Schools create a healthier environment for students, employees, and communities. Reducing water and energy use and reducing waste also reduces operating costs.”
Pelican Island Elementary Principal, Mr. Christopher Kohlstedt, stated, “Students at Pelican Island are making an impact! Our Recycling Team, led by 2nd grade teacher Ms. Jessica Kirk and supported by Ms. Sue Flak, Resource Teacher, regularly collects and weighs the recyclables in our cafeteria and around the school campus to monitor how much waste vs. recyclable material we use. In the effort to reduce our waste and recycle more material, the students have earned the Green Apple Award. We are very proud of our students and our school for their environmental efforts.”
Ms. Kirk, who assists in managing this project said, “We first became a Project Learning Tree School a couple of years ago and realized that we, as a school community, needed to work together to close the gap on ensuring that students become lifelong learners of ways to help protect the environment. We did this by implementing several activities like grade-level planting, school beautification days, composting, and recycling. With these activities, students have an understanding that within the bigger picture, the small steps we humans can take to better the Earth. I got involved by entering our school in the PepsiCo Rally Challenge. I believed that our students needed to see the process of collecting and documenting recyclables at our school, rather than just putting cans and bottles into a bin and not knowing what happens to them afterwards.”
Ms. Flak, who initiated the project, said, “I think that this is a vital and wonderful opportunity for our students to become ambassadors for our environment. We are putting it in their hands.”
The goal of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to raise awareness and have the students become ambassadors. “Green Teams” are formed throughout the school consisting of students and adults. Some of the topics the “Green Team” focuses on are: waste reduction, reusing and recycling, energy consumption, water conservation, air quality, and transportation. Students keep data and record information for the program, maintain, and make changes. FDEP will visit and evaluate the campus to see which areas meet program standards and which need improvement. When the process is completed, which could take up to 3 years, Pelican Island will be designated as a green school.