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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, December 1, 2022
HomeCommunityOrganizationsV.I. Conservation Society Launches Eco-Schools in the Territory

V.I. Conservation Society Launches Eco-Schools in the Territory

Eco-School at Lockhart Elementary School

The Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS) has announced the launching of the Eco-School program in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

VICS identified the need for the U.S.V.I. schools because there was not a recognized, integrated program connecting students with their immediate environment in a way that empowered them to act and experience the benefits. Some schools have elements of such a program, but they do not have the overall structure and processes to ensure its holistic development and management.

The Eco-School program is an education platform, an award system and an environmental management structure. It promotes long-term, whole school (student, teachers, parents, community) action for sustainability and community reliance: economy, society and environment.

Eco-School class

Eco-Schools is the world’s largest international environmental education program that engages pre-K through 12th grade students, faculty, administrators and community volunteers in a comprehensive, environment‐based program to improve student environmental literacy and skills. In addition to direct environmental benefits, the program helps to dramatically improve student skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). It is also a proven framework for promoting youth leadership and community service.

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Eco Schools offers hands‐on learning opportunities and support inquiry‐based education, critical thinking, use of technology and problem solving. The Eco-Schools model enhances the content and teaching methods while engaging the students in a positive transformation of their physical, social and mental learning environments, while also providing financial savings and improved aesthetics to schools and school campuses.

VICS is collaborating with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) https://www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA and with an international organization, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) http://www.ecoschools.global/. They are introducing Eco-Schools, which is a globally-established environmental educational program, to the U.S.V.I.

Eco-Schools has 25 years of demonstrated success operating in over 67 countries, engaging close to 19 million pupils worldwide.

An MOU has been established with NWF which will allow registered USVI schools to utilize all Eco-Schools USA materials free of charge immediately. In conjunction, Eco Schools USVI will foster private/public partnerships to support local sustainable education initiatives and collaborate in developing locally relevant education materials.

“As of June 1st – 7 public schools and 1 private school have registered for the program, and we anticipate that several more will sign up in the weeks to come,” said Valerie Peters.

With support of the VICS staff, participating schools will follow a clearly laid out process and are evaluated after a period of participation, earning the Eco-School’s green flag upon completion. They tackle one “theme” at a time (i.e., energy, waste, food…) and progress from creating an action plan to incorporating it into their curriculum to involving their community.

By the end of spring 2019, many of the first registered Eco Schools should achieve the bronze level in the program and should be recognized/awarded accordingly. Tysha St. Jules, at teacher at Claude O. Markoe School, has already been implementing the Eco-School seven step process with her school garden, and she was awarded the first bronze level in the U.S. Virgin Islands in recognition of her outstanding work in schoolyard habitat.

Any students, teachers, parents, business and community members wishing to get involved or find out more are invited to contact Valerie Peters at blueflagusvi@gmail.com

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