Green and Healthy Schools Program

Spotlight shines on Green and Healthy Schools Program

Environmentally Focused Nonprofit Seeks to Grow its Network of Educators and Administrators While Informing the Public of its Presence in Gwinnett County Public Schools with Video Campaign

While much of the work Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful (GC&B) tackles around Gwinnett County is highly visible, its efforts behind the scenes can be equally impactful. With a focus on Connecting People and Resources for a Sustainable Gwinnett, the eco-friendly organization looms large in the public’s minds for its cleanup efforts, recycling events and year-round programs like Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-Stream. In an effort to foster an up-and-coming generation of environmental stewards among some of Gwinnett’s youngest citizens, GC&B has had a long-standing presence in Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) through their shared Green and Healthy Schools (GHS) Program. There are currently 79 elementary, middle and high schools represented in the program. Out of a desire to grow its GHS network further, the Lawrenceville-based nonprofit plans to release a series of videos to illustrate the power of the program and its impact on educators and students alike.

To create the videos, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful tapped into the talents of Green Shortz’ Tom Mills. His own YouTube Channel is filled with short videos created to outline ways his viewers can pursue sustainable practices and “be green.” The initial release of the Green Shortz-GC&B collaboration showcases five videos with the promise of more content to follow. GC&B plans to release the videos in the months leading up to its March 30 meeting with GCPS educators and administrators. In addition to having a permanent place on the GC&B website, the videos will be featured in a series of e-mails and social media posts. Beyond providing an overview of the Green and Healthy Schools Program, they will highlight impactful initiatives within the program, including Plant-It Forward, Food Waste Warriors and Compost Connectors.

“Not only do we show these initiatives in action, but each video is supported by personal testimony from educators who have a hand in the application of projects like leading their students in the planting and maintenance of pollinator gardens, the collection and reporting of food waste, and the delivery of food waste to their school’s compost system,” said Schelly Marlatt, Executive Director of Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. “I am incredibly proud of the collaboration between our Green and Healthy Schools Program Manager, Brenda McDaniel, and Tom Mills in creating these videos and shining a well-deserved light on this very important program in our schools. We believe they will be instrumental in helping us grow our GHS network. By growing our network, we can increase our impact on an up-and-coming generation of environmental stewards. That’s how meaningful change happens.”

A joint initiative of Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and GCPS, Green and Healthy Schools provide integrated environmental education that incorporates applications of Science AKS, problem solving, civic skills, and green career pathways. The many benefits to being a Green and Healthy School include opportunities to engage students in environmental problem solving – right on the school grounds, eligibility to apply for a mini grant for environmental education projects, connections with community partners and experts to take learning beyond the classroom walls, participation in community events related to green school programming, annual recognition and more. Marlatt believes that the top reasons the Green and Healthy Schools Program resonates with administrators and educators is the opportunity to have a hand in protecting the local environment, reduce their school’s impact on the natural world and inspire students to pursue environmentally-sound practices and possibly even environmental careers.