USGBC’s Connect the Dots program challenges K–12 schools across the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia regions to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools. Participating schools target projects that aim to lower operating maintenance costs, improve indoor air quality, conserve natural resources and more.
Schools are matched with volunteer mentors from the building and design industry to guide project implementation and development. Projects are also registered as part of USGBC’s annual Green Apple Day of Service campaign to contribute to the global impact of increasing sustainability in schools.
Registration for both schools and volunteer mentors for the 2017–2018 program is open through October 13.
Each spring, the schools that most effectively meet this challenge are recognized for their achievements at a ceremony around the time of Earth Day. In 2016, the Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia, was given the Honor Award for their comprehensive approach to promoting sustainability. The school constructed its own learning gardens, using the vegetables and herbs in cooking classes to promote healthy eating. To engage the whole community in this effort, the school organized a Healthy Living Night for students and parents.
The Albermarle County School District in which Agnor-Hurt Elementary is located has also been a past recipient of USGBC’s School District Scholarship program, and is currently part of a small cohort of school districts using the Arc platform to benchmark, track and take action on sustainability metrics at each school. Energy, water, waste and other data can be collected by students through hands-on auditing activities and then incorporated into STEM curriculum for ongoing engagement and action. The data is also used by school personnel to make informed decisions about school improvements.
The 2016–2017 Connect the Dots School Champions at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School were Adam Mohr, Courtney Wood, Brittany Mullinex, Marci McKenzie, Michael Thornton and Drew Craft, and their volunteer mentor was Tish Tablan, a national organizer with Generation 180.
After participating in the program, Mohr, who was also Agnor-Hurt’s multiage team leader/teacher for grades 1–3, commented, “This was a fabulous opportunity for our school and existing garden-to-table project. It helped us reflect on what successes we have had thus far, and what we still need to improve upon moving forward. Other schools should take part in this important challenge, so we can all benefit from each other’s work and share ideas.”
Register your school to participate in the 2017–2018 Connect the Dots Challenge by October 13.