Three schools and one school district in California were honored today in the U.S. Department of Education’s annual Green Ribbon contest, which recognizes environmentally friendly facilities, outdoor education and healthy living.

Lowell Elementary and Mark Twain Elementary in Long Beach were named 2014 Green Ribbon Schools, as was the private San Domenico School in San Anselmo in Marin County. Encinitas Union School District, near San Diego, also won an award for its districtwide focus on environmental education and stewardship.

“The honored schools and districts have an important role to play in modeling best practices,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when announcing the 48 schools and nine districts awarded a prize in 2014.

The California winners have taken their focus on the environment beyond a basic recycling program or a big Earth Day celebration. Students in these schools are engaged in hands-on learning, often outdoors, throughout the year. Lowell, San Domenico and several school in Encinitas feature school gardens where children can learn how plants grow and pick their own fresh vegetables. Winners have also worked to eliminate waste and minimize energy use on their school campuses through everything from composting bins to solar panels.

No money is associated with the award, which schools and districts are nominated for by state education officials. California schools and districts won five Green Ribbons in 2013 and four in 2012, the inaugural year of the program.

Read more about this year’s winners.








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