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Outdoor classrooms in use at Westside High School in Houston recently served as the backdrop to illustrate a new collaboration between Houston schools and the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program.
The new program expands on NWF’s Schoolyard Habitat program already in place at more than two dozen local schools and on the Houston school district’s Green School Challenge, which was launched last school year and has 30 participating schools.
Eco-Schools USA will support the use of outdoor classrooms and offer new ways for participating schools to make their buildings and campuses more eco-friendly while also raising student achievement. The program has the capacity to save schools money through energy savings.
The program is open to all K-12 schools in HISD that wish to participate. The first training session attracted 22 teachers from 15 schools.
Westside High is among the local schools expected to benefit. It has vegetable and herb gardens on campus and its environmental science and urban agriculture students helped restore 1.5 acres of Gulf Coast Prairie in partnership with Katy Prairie Conservancy and other groups. The school also has an active Ecology Club, which manages the campus recycling program. Carolyn Klein, who teaches environmental science, is the club sponsor.