Seattle Public Schools Wins Green Ribbon Award

Last updated: March 22, 2023, at 5:01 a.m. PT

Originally published: May 14, 2020, at 1:09 p.m. PT

Green Ribbon

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools winner this year! Their application highlighted the strong partnership they have with YMCA Earth Service Corps (YESC) and the great work it does in each of their high schools. YESC has been a proud partner of the SPS’s efforts to reduce environmental impacts for over 30 years. 

A History of the YESC and SPS Partnership 

YESC began in 1989 as a collaboration between Garfield High School and the YMCA of Greater Seattle. The successful gathering of hundreds of youth and the planting of 1,000 trees in celebration of Earth Day led to a long-term partnership between YESC and each of the district’s high schools. 

YESC’s desired outcome is to create lifelong environmental leaders by providing real-world training and experiences. Over the last three decades, YESC and SPS have worked together to educate youth about the environment, instill stewardship behaviors, and engage teen leaders in addressing real environmental issues with innovative solutions. 

YESC youth played a critical role in reducing waste at SPS high schools through recycling in the 1990s and again in the early 2000s with the implementation of student-run composting programs. In 2016, YESC youth across each of the district’s high schools came together to raise awareness about single-use plastics and successfully campaigned for the funding and installation of water bottle refilling stations at every middle and high school campus. 

More recently, the Earth Service Corps club at Ingraham High School won the Washington State Envirothon and competed against 52 other schools at the National Envirothon competition held in North Carolina. Throughout the week-long competition, students demonstrated their knowledge of soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, and wildlife management through written tests and interactive stations featuring North Carolina’s natural resources. The team also prepared oral presentations on the topic of “Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge and Technology to Feed the World.”

The YMCA of Greater of Seattle knows that it takes the entire community to reach such lofty goals and is proud of the longstanding relationship it has fostered with SPS, its staff, its families, and its youth. A YESC participant from Chief Sealth High School summed it up best when they shared, “YESC made me realize I have a voice. And when I combine my voice with others, I can change the world.”

“YESC made me realize I have a voice. And when I combine my voice with others, I can change the world.”

We’re looking forward to another 30 years of amazing work together!

More About Green Ribbon Schools

The aim of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts, and institutions of higher education (IHEs) to strive for 21st-century excellence by highlighting promising school sustainability practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:

  1. reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. provide effective environmental and sustainability education

More About YESC

YESC is an innovative youth-led program that empowers students to take a hands-on role in creating a healthier environment in their schools, communities, and region while nurturing a respect for diversity within the natural world.

To learn more about YMCA Earth Service Corps, visit us on our website, Facebook, or Instagram.

Category: Youth Programs