The Green School House Effect

Sustainability Newsletter - November 2020

What is Green Iowa AmeriCorps?

Green Iowa AmeriCorps (GIA) is a state-wide community service program that operates out of the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE). It is made up of three branches, Energy and Community, Land and Water Stewards, and Sustainable Schools. Members of GIA are located all over the state at different “host sites.” The Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) started partnering with GIA in the fall of 2019. For information about Green Iowa AmerCorps click here.

What does Green Iowa AmeriCorps do?

This school year, two full-time GIA members, Lisa Stark and Meg SmolikHagen, will be working with the ICCSD. They are working on sustainability-related projects such as developing a model composting and recycling program, supporting school gardens, increasing prairie habitat, environmental/sustainability related education outreach, as well this monthly newsletter.

Fall Highlights

Farm to School Program

The Iowa City Community School District partners with Field To Family to offer fresh and local produce through the Farm to School program. Here are the farmers providing fresh fruits and vegetables for your school lunches this fall. Learn more about how local food gets to your lunch room here.

  • Apples from Wilson’s Orchard, Iowa City
  • Yogurt from Country View Dairy, Hawkeye
  • Sweet Potatoes from Organic Greens, Kalona

District Update

Climate Action Plan: What is it?

In December 2016, the Iowa City Council outlined goals that aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. The city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan was the result of ten public meetings and significant community and stakeholder input. The plan was finalized by September of 2018. Below is an outline of the city’s action steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about the Iowa City Climate Action plan click here.

The school district soon followed suit and adopted their own climate action plan. For the school district, it is the process of measuring greenhouse gas emissions, forecasting future emissions, and modeling strategies to reduce overall emissions. Some of those reduction strategies include geothermal heating and cooling, transitioning to electric buses, and the installation of solar panels. For more information check out the district’s resolution to address climate change here.
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Garden Update

The Iowa City Community School District is fortunate to have a number of schools with vegetable gardens. Check out this video made by Field to Family featuring Liberty High’s school garden. The video highlights the Farm to School program and the importance school gardens can have for students. Gardens allow students to learn where their food comes from, encourages eating more fresh veggies, while providing gardening experience. Video Tour: Liberty High School Garden

If you'd like to get involved in the school garden at Liberty High contact Jenny Saylor at

Action Steps

Try Composting at home!

With so many of us working from home and taking classes online, you may notice needing to take the trash out more often. Composting is an easy way to reduce your waste and help the planet at the same time. First you will need a container to collect your compost in. Just about anything will work: a five gallon bucket, an old garbage bin, or a plastic tub. If you live in Iowa City or North Liberty you can request a compost bin and the city will pick up your compost. If you live in Coralville, you can purchase a compost bag or sticker. Or you can keep your compost for your own use. Check out the EPA’s How to Create and Maintain an Indoor Worm Composting Bin. If you get a composting bin set up, post a picture on Instagram! Tag @greeniowaamericorps_ss and use the hashtag #theCompostesswiththeMostest for a chance to be featured on the GIA Sustainable Schools social media or next month's newsletter!
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In general, a good compost pile needs a balanced amount of these three ingredients: brown stuff, green stuff, and water. Browns or carbon would include things like fallen leaves, twigs, and used paper towels. Greens or nitrogen are all of your food scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds (and the filter). In order for the compost to develop correctly, your pile needs the right amount of water. Usually, water will not need to be added; the composted materials provide enough water. For a more complete list of compostable items visit your city’s website.

Iowa City Residential Curbside Composting:

  • Available to residents in single-family homes up to 4-unit apartment buildings

  • $2 per month on utility bill

  • Contact Resource Management at 319-356-5151

  • Visit their website for more information

North Liberty Curbside Compost:

Coralville Yard Waste:

  • Buy Coralville Biodegradable Yard Waste Bags for $1 per bag

  • Or send a check for $25.50 - include your name and address - to Coralville City Hall

  • Contact Eric Fisher at 319-248-1740 or with questions

  • Visit their website for more information

Clubs and Events

Get Involved!

  • City of Iowa City’s Climate Action Commission Meetings | More information can be found at their website.

  • City High Environmental Club | Contact Mary Lestina

  • South East Jr. High Recycling & Repurposing Club | Contact Heather Crandell

  • Liberty High Garden Club | Contact Jennifer Saylor

  • Northwest Jr. High Ecology Club | Contact Dan Hill

  • West High Environmental & Sustainability Club | Contact Brad Wymer

  • West High Save the Environment Club | Contact Phil Keitel

If you have an event/club you would like to feature, contact us!

Contact us

Lisa Stark |

Meg SmolikHagen |

Check out our Facebook Page!

Check out our Instragram!

Green Iowa AmeriCorps website