The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday honored a Nebraska school and district for their environmental protection efforts.
Gerald Otte Blair Middle School in Blair was named a Green Ribbon School.
The Newman Grove Public Schools system was recognized as a District Sustainability Awardee.
The Nebraska school and district were among 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts and five postsecondary institutions honored across the country. The department said they were selected for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
Gerald Otte Blair Middle School partnered with Washington County Recycling to place a recycling bin on school property where sixth grade students collect recycled materials from all the classrooms.
Students participate in the Trex Challenge for the recycling of plastic bags.
The school has a composting program run by students, using 1,700 pounds of food scraps each year. The school incorporates hands-on learning in the school garden and partners with DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge to provide Outdoor Environmental Science Class at the refuge.
Newman Grove Public Schools built a new school featuring efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning, LED and motion-sensor lighting, energy-efficient doors and windows, and automatic faucets and toilets.
The school FFA program oversees paper and aluminum recycling. The agriculture mechanics class partners with a local manufacturing company to collect and use its metal scrap in the welding course throughout the year.
Future Business Leaders of America and FFA groups participate in a trash pickup on a local highway.
FFA students also maintain a greenhouse where they grow lettuce for the school cafeteria. They are in the process of setting up a larger herb and produce garden.
Local families also donate beef for school lunches through the Nebraska Beef in Schools program.