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Presentations were made at the recent the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Portland

CONTRIBUTED - Pictured from left: Eco-School Network program manger Rachel Willis, board chair Jeanne Roy, executive director Amy Higgs, and Student Leader Award Winner Henry Anderson.Local students, parents and others were honored for their efforts to help make area schools more sustainable during the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Portland on Monday, March 2.

They were recognized during the Green Schools Awards Luncheon held at the event, which was sponsored by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network.

"This year's awardees are the best of the best among education, environmental and business leaders," said Center for Green Schools director Anisa Heming. "Their commitment to breaking out of the status quo and charting new ground make them excellent examples for all those working to make our schools sustainable, healthy places where students learn to lead the way forward and protect our environment for future generations."

Local winners included:

• Henry Anderson, a freshman at Sunset High School in Beaverton, who received the Student Leader Award. While an 8th grader at Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School last year, Anderson worked with the Beaverton School District to eliminate all plastic silverware from his school cafeteria, raising necessary funds, collaborating with school staff and producing creative outreach and communication materials. His efforts have resulted in 20 additional Portland-area schools eliminating plastic utensils in their cafeterias.

• The Portland-based Eco School Network, which received the Michelle Curreri Collaborator Award. The network equips parents and students in the Portland, Beaverton, West Linn and Clackamas school districts with free training and ongoing support to advocate for sustainability improvements in their schools. The corps of 150 volunteer parent leaders engages over 35,000 K-5 students in practicing sustainability every day at school.

The award was presented in Michelle Curreri's memory by her colleagues at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Environments Division, commemorating her lifelong dedication to promoting healthy school environments through collaboration.

• Reilly Loveland, project manager of the New Buildings Institute & Portland Green Schools Committee, received the Ambassador Award. It recognizes her professional and volunteer efforts to improve school environments for students by providing trainings across the country that have led to greener schools, including schools pursuing zero energy and zero carbon.

The Special Recognition - Moment for the Movement Award recognized student-led climate protests worldwide, which have also taken place in the Portland area. Advocates of green schools have been moved and inspired by these student activists, who have ignited the discussion around the urgent climate issues affecting our planet.

Six other awards were presented to people, businesses, organizations or movements outside the local area.

Speaking about the award presented to the Eco-School Network, executive director Amy Higgs said, "This national award is an honor for all the parents and students in our network who have overcome barriers to make their schools greener and healthier through collaborative relationships with teachers, school staff and district administrators. By making one change at a time in their own schools, these parents and kids are shifting practices and norms in our districts and even helping advance the green schools movement at a larger level."

The Eco-School Network just completed a Waste Fellowship, funded by Metro, that reduced waste in 49 schools in four districts: Portland, Beaverton, West Linn and Clackamas. Fellows recorded an average reduction of 54% in weight of landfilled cafeteria waste, with two schools reporting a reduction of over 90%. At least 315,973 gallons of waste were diverted from landfills (or 72 school buses full of waste) through prevention, reuse, and recycling. Here are some of the results:

• 15 schools began cafeteria food waste separation, reducing landfilled waste by 127,075 lbs. this year

• 18 schools replaced disposable utensils with metal avoiding 734,230 plastic forks/spoons.

• 17 schools launched durable party packs or low-waste events, reducing landfilled waste by 9,152 gallons. Emerson School's auction created one handful of landfilled trash.

• 8 swaps were held for clothing, shoes, books, bikes, and costumes. Bridlemile swapped 7,500 books!

• 12 schools hosted non-curbside recycling programs (home appliances, batteries, car seats, playpens, holiday lights, lightbulbs, Styrofoam, dental hygiene products, cosmetics, Brita filters, chip bags, and wrappers). Eight schools recycled 4,221 lbs of plastic bags/film.

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council encourages communities to work together toward a future that is healthier for people and the planet. The Green Schools Conference and Expo is in its 10th year and is the largest gathering of green school advocates. It offers education and networking opportunities focused on creating healthy school environments, driving culture and behavioral change, designing schools for the future, and engaging and empowering students.

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