Two Schools Top of Class in Environmental Education

These Magnolia Nature School at Camp McDowell students are Jamison Blake, Michaela Brandon, Ashtin Hall, Brody Tidwell and Betsy Feltman. Photo by Jess Lingle

Magnolia Nature School at Camp McDowell and Morris Avenue Intermediate have been named 2020 Alabama Green Ribbon Schools by the Alabama State Department of Education.

The award recognizes innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness and promote environmental and sustainability education. The schools will be nominated to be recognized as U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools in the spring.

“We are so proud to have schools that are recognized for not only being beacons of quality education, but that are serving as leaders in innovation — especially in the important role of reducing our carbon footprint. We must be good stewards of the world around us and all of its resources,” said Eric Mackey, secretary and executive officer of the Alabama State Board of Education. “The effort put into developing efficient use of electricity, maximizing recyclable materials, and honing solar energy is truly admirable.”

Magnolia Nature School at Camp McDowell, located in Nauvoo and teaching children ages 3-5, uses geothermal systems, solar arrays and a hydro system called Archimedes screw on an existing dam, which, combined, reduce energy consumption and allow less dependence on carbon burning systems for electricity.

In addition, in 2015, Camp McDowell received a $30,000 grant from the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church to construct a recycling center on campus. This helped garner the school the Best Environmental Education Program award from the Environmental Education Association of Alabama in 2019.

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Morris Avenue Intermediate, part of the Opelika City Schools system, has developed a fruit and fitness trail, which provides students with a connection between physical activity and nutrition. In addition, the school has a student-led recycling program, an Ambassador garden and grade-specific environmental education units that promote the use of environment and sustainability to develop STEM content knowledge and thinking skills.

Morris Avenue works with several organizations to provide students with opportunities to develop and apply civic knowledge and skills in environmental education, health and wellness. These partners include Keep Opelika Beautiful, Opelika Grows, Opelika Master Gardeners, Opelika Environmental Services, Pratt Industries, Opelika Bicycle Advisory Committee, Auburn University, Southern Union Community College, Creekline Trails and the city of Opelika.

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