Sustain DCSD

August 2016

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2016-2017 Sustainability Incentive Program

We are excited to announce our new and improved Sustainability Incentive Program for this school year. This year will be all about ENERGY! We have two options for participation: Energy Action Incentive (Behavioral) and the Green PBL Fund (Funding for Operational Upgrades). This year, you can do both!

Find all the 16-17 Sustainability Incentive Program materials HERE:

Register HERE:

Congratulations to our 15-16 Incentive Program Schools!

These schools worked tirelessly last year to address sustainability issues while earning money through our Sustainability Incentive Program. From energy to waste to transportation, schools turned off lights, unplugged devices, set up recycling, and created no idle zones. They created reusable dishware party kits, set up walk/bike to school days, and started composting. As a result, students learned the importance of environmental conservation and earned funds to keep their programs going. Thanks for being sustainability rock stars!
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Heather Berry, Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

EPA Region 8

Heather Berry, Highlands Ranch High School
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, recognized 18 teachers and 63 students from across the country for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship. These 2016 winners and honorable mentions for the annual President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) and 2016 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) were honored for their work at a ceremony at the White House. The event included remarks from Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator; Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s Chief Senior Advisor; and John King, Secretary of Education.

“These teacher and student winners are exemplary leaders, committed to strong environmental conservation and tackling problems including landfill waste and climate change head on,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Environmental education cultivates our next generation of leaders by teaching them how to apply skills in creativity and innovation. I have no doubt that teachers and students like these will someday solve some of our most complex and important issues.”

For a decade, Heather Berry has ignited her students’ passion about science and the environment through hands-on activities, connecting current events with classroom subject matter, and her unique “Project Based Learning Series.” By challenging her students to make their school or community more environmentally sustainable, they have developed several interesting year-long projects, including creating recycling and composting programs, using outdoor classrooms, installing a solar- powered cell phone charging station, and working with elementary schools to increase their environmental sustainability. Her students also complete research projects on population growth, environmental biodiversity, and energy consumption and savings that require consideration of economic, religious, cultural, and governmental topics at the country level. Heather recently began an international collaboration opportunity; her students communicate about their daily lives and share sustainability projects with a school in Taiwan. In a similar fashion, she has extended environmental education beyond the classroom by taking her students on local, national, and international field trips. She and her co-workers have taken students to Hawaii, Iceland, the Galapagos Islands, and elsewhere to explore human impacts on these areas and participate in volunteer activities to improve the environment.

Heather participates in numerous speaking events, surveys fellow teachers to help integrate environmental curriculum into other content areas, and serves on a district Sustainability Steering Committee to add environmental education to other schools’ curriculums. She is planning a retreat with at least one teacher from each of the district’s schools to help broaden the scope of environmental education. Heather is also developing a partnership with a middle school in Taiwan so that her students can correspond on tree- planting and pond-building projects.

A New Year, A New (Green) Look for High School Lunch!

Nutrition Services is revamping high school lunch! This year, they are creating a more upscale approach to their themed stations. Each day, students have a different theme to choose from and can custom select their choices. Items are made to order and will have both signature items and Create Your Own choices.

Part of the up-scaled approach also comes down to new disposables or packaging. Our themed bars are now using a completely compostable fiber material!

  • Utensils made from plant starch
  • Plant fiber bowls made from wheatstraw, a leftover agricultural fiber and an annually renewable resource
  • Compostable paper bowls and lids lined with a plant based material instead of polyethelene

A pretty amazing student from Castle View High School, Kristen Plonsky, designed the new logos to go along with the new brand. They also used a local company to print the new menu boards. Super exciting move Nutrition Services! Thanks for doing what you do!

Planning & Construction, Safety Collaborate for the Earth!

Thunder Ridge High School underwent hardware replacement this summer, which meant a lot of old metal hardware and doors that needed to be disposed. By just taking a little extra time, the DCSD team encouraged the contractor (Bassett & Associates) to collect it in containers and take it to the recycling center, Western Metals. As a result of their hard work, they diverted 3,000 pounds of hardware from the landfill. Thanks for helping us reduce our impact on the environment!

Awards for Excellence in Environmental Education!

Each year the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE) recognizes and honors individuals, organizations and schools from around the state of Colorado for their innovation and dedication to moving the field of environmental education forward. Click here for award information and how to nominate!


  • Advancing Environmental Literacy Award
  • Enos A. Mills Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Innovative Environmental Education Program Award (formal and nonformal programs)
  • Outstanding Environmental Educator Award (for formal, nonformal, volunteer educators)
  • Outstanding Retiring Educator Recognition
  • Outstanding Youth Environmental Leadership Award

Nominations are due September 19, 2016. Apply here!