Why Forest Lovers Should Celebrate Bat Week

By Rachel Hamilton and Darren Sleep

When thinking about bats, you might be reminded of the saying “blind as a bat” or remember one of the many movie scenes where a bat is tangled in someone’s hair — or perhaps the fangs associated with blood-sucking vampires. Maybe they are depicted as rats with wings or frothing at the mouth, a trait associated with the deadly rabies virus. These tropes about bats help give them the universally creepy and spooky allure that makes them centuries-old inspiration for Halloween. But these associations are mostly myths based on half-truths.

In fact, we at SFI would like to clear up a few of these misconceptions and take a moment this Bat Week (annually timed to coincide with the week of Halloween) to share our appreciation for the ways forests and bats work together. Bats are not blind (they actually have rather good vision for nocturnal creatures), but they do rely on echolocation, which is essentially “sound radar,” to help them locate and capture prey. This unique navigational trait is also why bats don’t get tangled in your hair—no matter how long it is. As for the vampire connection, vampire bats do exist in Central and South America, feeding mostly on sleeping birds and mammals. They don’t turn into human-like creatures that fear the sun and a delicious piece of garlic bread! Like rodents, bats are mammals, but they belong to their own unique order called Chiroptera, which are not related to rats. As for rabies, bats can be hosts but are most likely not infected—and as with all wildlife, it is best to call a professional to handle a bat, especially if it is acting abnormally.  

What is less known about bats is far more interesting:

  • Bats are pollinators; their feces have been used as fertilizer for hundreds of years, and they are significant factors in the control of insect and pest populations.

  • Bats are found almost everywhere in the world and are particularly abundant in forests.
    Bats can often be detected at night zipping between trees and above the canopies of forests worldwide, especially in North America, where forests sustainably managed to the SFI standards provide significant bat habitat. In the Canadian boreal, it’s not unusual to find colonies of mother bats and their pups living together in aspen trees, sometimes in hundreds at a single location.

  • Bats do have a scary issue affecting their health and survival.
    Described as “the most precipitous wildlife decline in the past century in North America,” white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fungal infection deadly to bats, was first identified in a cave in New York in 2006 and has now spread across bats in much of eastern North America. The fuzzy white fungus often appears on the face and wings of hibernating bats, causing them to wake more frequently during hibernation, burning up important fat stores needed to survive the winter. WNS has resulted in the death of millions of bats and contributed to the listing of several species as “imperiled” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Canadian Species at Risk Act.

Bats are an important component of forests and how they are managed. At SFI, biodiversity values and ensuring protection for threatened and endangered species — including bats — are an important focus of what we do to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration.


An educational sign created as part of the SFI Community Grant-funded Forest Bat Habitat Improvement Project

Collaborating for Our Flying Friends

SFI’s collaborations support bat conservation to help protect our flying friends. Through SFI’s Conservation Grants Program, SFI funded Nature Conservancy of Canada’s conservation grant project to help protect bats from WNS, in partnership with International Forest Products and British Columbia Timber Sales. The project identified significant bat hibernation sites in British Columbia and resulted in installing cave gates on the abandoned Queen Victoria Mine, which enable entry by bats while keeping people out. Reducing human access to bat roosting and hibernating sites limits disturbances and decreases the risk of human-caused spread of WNS. Though WNS has not yet been found in British Columbia, it has been found in neighboring Washington State – and it may only be a matter of time before it spreads northward.

SFI has also collaborated on research to look at how bats use forests following harvest and regrowth. Working with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc., the Forest Products Association of Canada, and the University of Regina, we joined a conservation project examining the use of SFI-certified forest areas harvested 25 years ago to see the effect on bat populations. Researchers found that bats returned to previous levels of activity as the forest’s trees, bugs, and bushes also returned.

SFI also engages in community outreach and youth education to raise awareness about bat conservation. In 2021, SFI’s Community Grants Program funded the Minnesota SFI Implementation Committee’s Forest Bat Habitat Improvement Project, which collaborated with the Boy Scouts of America to build and erect over 100 bat roosting boxes from SFI-certified wood donated by Norbord Inc. (now West Fraser). In the summer, bats can be found roosting in trees, caves, buildings, and under bridges. Bat boxes provide an alternative “housing” option, particularly for mother bats to raise their young in the summer, which promotes bat population health for these declining species in Northern Minnesota, where they are particularly vulnerable to WNS.

PLT has compiled a selection of free Bat Week resources for anyone celebrating with children

To further introduce and connect youth to the world of bats, SFI is celebrating Bat Week, which annually occurs in the last week of October, from the 21st to Halloween, the 31stProject Learning Tree, an award-winning educational initiative of SFI, compiled a great selection of resources to engage youth in learning about and celebrating bats through activities, arts, and crafts for a variety of ages. Through education, research, and engaging partnerships at various levels, SFI hopes to dispel some misconceptions about bats, raise awareness about challenges they face, and highlight the critical role bats play in helping sustain our forests and contributing to our everyday lives.

SFI’s Rachel Hamilton holds a bat

Rachel’s Bat Story

Bats have a reputation for being spooky and scary. Through my bat research experiences, while pursing my graduate degree, I found these furry friends to be fascinating. This graduate opportunity led me to study bats in Ontario, Jamaica, and Cuba – exploring caves, mines, forests, and barns. It was not the bats that I feared, but rather other uncomfortable encounters that occurred while in their environments.

One early morning in Ontario, my co-researcher and I were taking turns checking mist nets, soft “volleyball” like nets specialized to safely catch unsuspecting flying animals for migratory bats passing through the area. I was walking solo down the dark path, with just my headlamp illuminating the way when I spotted eyeshine from a somewhat large animal in the distance…was it a deer? Was it a bear? I will never know, and I wasn’t going to stay long enough to find out! I promptly returned to the safety of our field station to get support from my research partner (safety in numbers!) to finish our rounds.

A different evening in Jamaica, exhausted after a long night of catching bats in the forest, the research team finally laid down to get some rest at the research station when my roommate woke up with a scream. She said something just fluttered across her hand. I said maybe she screamed loud enough to scare it away. Then we heard more scuttling noises. Quickly turning on the lights, the biggest rat we ever saw was scampering across the ledge beside my roommate’s bed.

However, the most memorable experience I have had with bats was a trip to a hot cave in Cuba. As our research team made our way to a back chamber of the cave, we crossed paths with cockroaches and large centipedes. Cave crabs scurried across the ground and our headlamps illuminated spiders in their webs. At one point, a scorpion tried to hitch a ride on the back of my co-researcher’s pant leg, which I had to quickly brush off. After reaching the back cavern there was a rockface that reached almost to the ground. At the entrance to the rockface, Cuban boas were lying close by, ready and waiting to strike a bat that flew too close. We had to crawl on our bellies under the rockface to reach the inside of the chamber. We were instantly hit by a wave of heat and humidity. Much like a sauna, these enclosed, humid, pocket-like chambers can reach temperatures around 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

The intensity of heat is due to the body heat of the high density of bats which creates a microclimate. Thus, bats can live in a protected, high-heat chamber that is unsuitable for most other species, especially predators or even visiting researchers who can barely stand the heat. I was thankful to go back to the cool cave with the other creepy-crawly wildlife. So, in my experiences, I didn’t find bats scary, but rather eyeshine in the night, rats in my room, and scorpions crawling on pants made for less-than-ideal situations! 

Darren’s Bat Story

As a kid, the only thing that scared me was the dark. I didn’t really fear what might be in the dark – I felt I could handle the critters – it was just not knowing where they were or what they were doing that weirded me out. So naturally, I chose to pursue graduate studies in nocturnal ecology, giving all sorts of critters the chance to sneak up and scare the bejeepers out of me. I’ve been startled and caused to jump out of my skin by bears, moose, elk, wolves, coyotes, skunks, porcupines, most owl species in North America, and many, many bats.

When you are a wildlife biologist, it’s often assumed you can simply solve simple human-wildlife conflict issues quickly and effectively. Helping bats find their way back outside of a human’s home is a popular request friends ask me to help with. I have easily caught bats inside and let them go after a quick natural history lesson. Others have evaded me for hours, making me look like a stumbling fool and discrediting me in front of friends and family.

It’s been said that doing research is “…what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing,” and that’s certainly been my experience with wildlife. Bats are particularly reliable for being anything but reliable as research subjects. When I was first trained to mist net bats, we caught 20-30 bats in one evening outside of a well-known little brown bat maternity colony. Little browns are cute and harmless critters, about as non-threatening as their name sounds. Weighing in at less than half an ounce, even angry a little brown bat could not bight through the skin on your finger on a good day. Ready to take on the bat world, the next night, I was mist netting over a nearby river. After handling a couple of little browns, a bat hit the net so hard I was sure I had caught a crow. Instead, I was faced with a fistful of a spitting and hissing bat, nearly 5-6 times the size of a little brown. Hoary bats have formidable teeth, and this one was quick to express his displeasure at being caught while out looking for his dinner. After extracting him from the net, he calmed down nicely. We processed and weighed him, and he was on his way. He might have calmed down, but it took me quite a while to do the same.

In the forest, several bat species roost in holes and crevices in trees, particularly in aspen trees that develop heart rot as they age. Identifying which crevices are used and why can be a challenge. Researchers usually try to catch females at night using mist nets and affix radio-telemetry tags to them, following them the next day to find communal roosts where 3 to 5 females might be hanging out for the day. Radio-tagging is tricky business, and the bat is very carefully handled to gently affix the tag so it won’t hurt her, inhibit her flight, and she won’t lose it. Bats naturally switch between roosts daily, so if researchers can capture and tag some of her friends, it can help find other roosts and better understand what makes a “good” day roost.

A colleague of mine in grad school came up with a brilliant way to efficiently capture the other female bats in a roost. Bats don’t generally take off from a sitting position as they are not usually on a flat surface like the ground. (Note: a bat on the ground is NOT acting naturally; call a professional to handle a bat on the ground). Bats normally fall from a height before opening their wings to fly, as from the roof of a cavern, a wall, or the opening of a tree crevice. My colleague took a box from a 24-case of beer (I never found out what he did with the previous contents) and stapled it to the tree just below the crevice in the tree. He then opened the bottom of the box and stapled a garbage bag to the bottom. It looked like a giant black sock hanging from the side of a tree. He then sat under the tree and waited for dusk.

Bats tend to emerge just as the sun sets, making the most of the pulse of insects at that time of night. It was no surprise to hear the “plop” in the bottom of the bag above his head at the witching hour. As he was about to celebrate the joy of an idea well-conceived, his joy turned to terror as the “plops” increased in both total and frequency. All told, there were more than 30 females in that one roost. He had neither the time nor the tags to process all the bats he caught that one night in his 24-trap, and he ended up releasing some and working all night to process the ones he kept.

I have never regretted working late at night in the dark. Now I’m very comfortable in the darkness, and I love the possibility of seeing bats against the night sky, hearing distant owl or wolf calls, and knowing the forests I love continue to hold their secrets I can explore – even if sometimes I might get a fright!


Rachel Hamilton is SFI Manager of Conservation Programs, supporting the SFI Conservation Program by aiding in conservation grants program tracking and contributing to conservation communications, research, and collaborative projects.

Darren Sleep is SFI Lead Scientist, responsible for the incorporation of up-to-date and scientifically rigorous technical content across all SFI’s pillars, ensuring that SFI’s work is grounded in thoughtful, science-based knowledge and communications, and that SFI standards and education programs reflect the latest in scientific understanding.

Rachel and Darren are members of the SFI Conservation Team, working across the SFI footprint to help address sustainability challenges and inform global conservation efforts. To learn more about SFI’s conservation work, please visit forests.org/conservation.


This updated story (October 24, 2023) was originally published by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. To view the original article, visit https://forests.org/why-forest-lovers-should-celebrate-bat-week/

Earth Day 2023

Earth Day this year is held April 22, 2023 and the theme is Invest In Our Planet—because a green future is a prosperous future. 

To celebrate, we’ve compiled stories and resources to help educators and youth learn about sustainability issues, climate science, and actions they can take this #EarthDay2023 and every day.



beavers faceGuide to Curriculum for Teaching About Climate Change 
PLT teamed up with Earth Day Network, Project WET, and Project WILD to produce an up-to-date guide that lists all our available education resources to help you teach about climate science and the impacts of climate change. Use our “Teaching About Climate Change: Water, Trees, and Wildlife” guide to help plan a series of lessons that fit with your teaching situation to teach about the impacts of climate change on water, forests and biodiversity.


Pencil transforming into a tree above a notebook

Student Worksheet 
Learn about the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals with our guiding questions. Young people will explore how the Goals are interconnected and address the global challenges we face, including those related to inequality.



Free Activities for Families and Educators:

pine trees with a purple borderTREES AS HABITATS 

From their leafy branches to their tangled roots, trees provide a habitat for a host of plants and animals. Take inventory of the life in, on, and around trees to discover how plants and animals depend on trees in many ways (available in English and Español.)


tree cookie with blue arrows in a circle indicating renewabilityRENEWABLE OR NOT?

Children often do not know which resources are renewable and nonrenewable. Use this activity (in English and Español) to learn what these terms mean and discover why sustainable use of natural resources is so important.


recycling symbol with triangle of arrows surrounded by a red borderREUSE AND RECYCLE AT HOME 

Learn how to analyze waste and whether items being thrown away could be reused, recycled, or composted. Bookmark our handy chart (available in English and Español.)



student craft of a planet drawn on paper with messages below each corner of the pageEARTH DAY ACTIVITIES TO INSPIRE YOUR STUDENTS AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Earth Day is about raising awareness about the importance of protecting our planet and taking action. Use these activities to inspire your students to take action this Earth Day and every day.


child hands with blue paint on their palmsARTISTS FOR THE EARTH (EarthDay.org)

Celebrate the many sights, sounds, and textures of the natural world by becoming an artist for the earth. Filled with creative exercises for children and adults, alike, this webpage contains ideas and inspiration for sustainable creative expression.


young indigenous men in orange safety vests and hardhats hug in a forestLEARN ABOUT FORESTS

Engage middle school aged youth in learning about trees, forests, and sustainable forest management with PLT’s 12 free, ready-to-use, hands-on activities. Each 50-minute activity offers simple suggestions for leading learners ages 10–16 in themes related to sustainable forest management, stewardship, and green careers.



Free Teacher Stories and Resources:

wood boardwalk surrounded by grasses12 NATURE WALK ACTIVITIES FOR EARTH DAY (OR ANY DAY!)

Getting outside can be one way to boost our resilience. Try these activities to ensure your walks are an engaging and enriching learning experience.


young woman poses in front of a painting of an eagle13 YOUNG ENVIRONMENTALISTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Young students don’t need to wait until they’re older to make a difference! Share these inspiring stories that show what’s possible when young environmentalists take action.


ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY TIMELINE (EarthDay.org)photo of an alarm clock with a purple border

The big events that shaped our environmental history can fascinate kids. These printable timelines (in English and Español) can be used as a research activity for students.


young girl drinking a glass of waterBECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST

From tackling plastic pollution to supporting the global food supply to observing local bird species and more—this article is your go-to guide to classroom community science.


photo of lettuce planted in rows of soilSOIL EROSION: WHY IT HAPPENS AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

Soil erosion is a natural phenomenon caused by water and wind, but can become more of a problem as humans inhabit and develop more of the planet.


children gather around a tree being plantedTIPS FOR PLANTING TREES WITH KIDS

Express your appreciation for trees this Earth Day (or any day!) by planting a tree at your school or in your community. Here’s some inspiration and a few tips to get you started.


photo of a tree surrounded by a purple borderHANDS-ON ACTIVITIES TO EXPLORE THE MANY USES OF TREES

If you’re brainstorming ideas for outdoor lessons, trees are a great place to start! Bookmark a few of these fun and engaging outdoor activities to explore how trees and forest products are used every day!



In recent years there has be an increased urgency to implore policymakers to make a change for a zero-carbon future. Celebrate this Earth Day by exploring ways you and the young people you work with can become advocates for the planet.

PLT’s Newest Activity Collection: Connecting for Health and Planet

Project Learning Tree recently launched a new theme-based activity collection!

The Connecting for Health and Planet Activity Collection is our latest release featuring three PLT activities for educators of students ages 8-11 and grades 3-5. And if you work with older students, the activities also contains age-appropriate adaptations for educators working with grades 6-8.

Designed to be flexible, the activities can be used as stand-alone lessons, or all together as a cohesive unit of instruction using a storyline technique.

green get the activities button




Connecting for Heath and Planet: Grades 3-5 Activities

The three downloadable activities were developed with support from Nice-Pak and invite students to investigate how being outside—and among trees, specifically—provides people with many different physical, emotional, social, and learning benefits:

    • Get Outside!: Students investigate the physical and emotional benefits of working or playing outside.
    • Poet-Tree: Students explore the benefits of being outside as they make observations of how trees make them feel. This activity also incorporates traditional knowledge with a gratitude walk.
    • Helping Hands: Students plan and carry out a project to improve a shared, local outdoor space.


How do trees connect with human and environmental health?

A growing body of research confirms that children are healthier, happier, more creative, and have better knowledge retention when they consistently play and learn outdoors. Some benefits of time outdoors for youth include:

  • Increased attentiveness and better recollection of information, even after they go back inside.
  • Improved performance on tests and other external measures of knowledge gains.
  • Greater feelings of competence and motivation to learn.
  • Elevated mood and better ability to regulate emotions.
  • Decreased stress and anxiety.
  • More physical activity and improved physical health.
  • Improved balance, coordination, and problem-solving skills through less structured play.
  • More frequent and more effective conflict management, communication, and peer cooperation.

While much of the research focuses on children, there is also evidence that being outdoors is good for adults as well. Plus, an additional benefit of spending time outdoors is an increased investment in these places and spaces by the people who experience them.


green get the activities button

Learning Progressions

Storylines provide connectedness and continuity to individual activities and can serve as the instructional glue that holds areas of knowledge and skills together. The activities in Connecting for Health and Planet may be linked together into a unit of instruction using a storyline technique, such as the one that follows.

Guiding Question: How does being outside benefit people?

Storyline: Being outside and among trees provides people with many different physical, emotional, social, and learning benefits.

The sequence of individual activities supports this storyline:

1. Get Outside!
Investigate the physical and emotional benefits of working or playing outside; encourage students to design and plan the investigation and analyze their results.

2. Poet-Tree
Explore the benefits of being outside and make observations about how trees make us feel. Invite students to gather “tree impressions” and to use these impressions to write poems centered around trees.

3. Helping Hands
Challenge students to describe the feelings a local area evokes and what they wish were different about it. Plan and carry out a model project to improve the site, and reflect on the environmental, community, and personal benefits of the project.


New Features Within Each Activity

In addition to the typical elements that educators have come to rely on from PLT, the following new features in our theme-based series will further help educators adapt the activities for specific groups and settings.

Academic Standards
Classroom educators and nonformal educators alike need to ensure that instruction helps diverse learners meet rigorous academic benchmarks. Each PLT activity displays explicit connections to practices and concepts mandated by the following national academic standards. Here’s an example from the first activity in the collection, Get Outside!:




Take It Outside!

Describes how to extend student learning into the outdoors.

icon of a grey arrow pointing right


Differentiated Instruction Strategies

      • Cooperative Learning
      • Literacy Skills
      • ELA Skills
      • Hands-On Learning
      • Higher-Order Thinking
      • Multiple Solution Pathways
      • Nonlinguistic Representations
      • Personal Connections
      • Student Voice

question mark made of tree canopy with text reading did you know above


Did You Know?

Forest Facts present interesting insights into forests as global solutions for environmental, economic, and social sustainability.



Career Corner

Introduces youth to forest-related careers.



green get the activities button

Purchase Connecting for Health and Planet now from PLT’s Shop for $5.95



Like what you see? Check out our other low-cost, downloadable activity collections:



This collection is supported by Nice-Pak.

Join the 2022 SFI/PLT Annual Conference

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Project Learning Tree (PLT) will host their first ever joint annual conference from June 14-16, in Madison, Wisconsin. With a theme of Collaborating for Communities and Forests, the event will be a week filled with learning and opportunities to discuss the most-pressing issues and challenges facing the people and the planet, including how sustainable forest management and environmental education provide effective solutions.

Conference participants will come away from the event with:

  • Best practices on climate-smart forestry and fire resiliency.
  • Knowledge and tools to meet and report on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) targets.
  • Key initiatives to be forest sector leaders on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
  • Pathways to grow the next generation of forest sector leaders through Project Learning Tree (PLT).
  • Opportunities to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaborations.
  • And much more!


red button with learn more



Preview the full schedule at forests.org/conference-schedule-2022


photo of buddy huffaker president of the Aldo Leopold FoundationKeynote Speaker: Buddy Huffaker

Don’t miss keynote speaker Buddy Huffaker, Executive Director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation!

For more than 20 years, Huffaker has been instrumental in leading the Foundation’s efforts to advance a land ethic.

These efforts have included stewarding the Leopold Shack and Farm National Historic Landmark and advocating for a conservation ethic. Learn how the Foundation balances ecological, economic, and cultural values in managing its own property—and engaging neighboring landowners—and how it benefits from greater collaboration, innovation, and community connections. This session will leave participants further inspired to address this convergence for positive change—real-world change that benefits all stakeholders.


Session highlights:

  • Growing Forest-Literate Citizens: By gaining forest literacy, people acquire the tools and knowledge they need to keep our forests sustainable over the long term while continuing to benefit from them. This session explores the role of the private and public sectors in supporting a forest-literate society and available tools to advance that goal. You can also read our Forest Literacy Framework—a free guide that translates the language of forests and sustainable forest management into 100 concepts for grades K–12.


  • Advancing Opportunities for Diverse Communities in the Forest Sector: Transformative solutions are needed to create more inclusive, sustainable communities. Learn about efforts by SFI and partners to support career awareness, recruitment, mentorship, and other opportunities that will help the forest and conservation sector advance a diverse and resilient workforce. Explore our Green Jobs quiz, curriculum, and training to introduce young people to green jobs and encourage young Black students and professionals to explore our partnership with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) and resources for rewarding careers in the forest and conservation center at PLT.org/journeys.


  • Urban and Community Forests—Collaborating for Environmental and Social Health: Urban and community forests deliver crucial social, environmental, and economic benefits. Explore how urban and community forests provide opportunities to engage new audiences through management practices and education tools. Our Discover Your Urban Forest Activity Collection is the perfect complement for urban educators seeking to strengthen middle school student connections to urban forests and invites learners to explore their environment and investigate environmental issues that affect their community.



Students can access virtual registration to the conference for free!

Email [email protected] with subject line “Student registration for the SFI/PLT Annual Conference” to receive the code.

4 Ways to Support Forests With Family

4 ways to support forests with family text overlaid on photo of older woman walking with children through a forestMay, June, and July are notable months for the transition from spring to summer, the anticipation of breaking from school, and a few of our favorite family-focused holidays: Mother’s Day (May 8), Father’s Day (June 19), Parents’ Day (July 24).

We also want to acknowledge the great diversity of families that exist by both blood and bond, as well as how difficult these holidays can be for families who have lost a loved one.

Strong family memories are made outside. And all children should have the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the outdoors with the grownups who love them. This summer, dedicate yourself to finding time to spend time in nature with your family—we promise it’s time well-spent.

Plus, despite what you may think, you don’t need to drive far away and buy fancy shoes or expensive accessories to visit a forest! We encourage you to make a plan and recreate responsibly, but forests may be closer than you think, even in busy urban areas!

Drop what you’re doing, grab the rest of the family, and hit up a forest! Sustainably managed forests are good for you and good for the planet.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.



1.) Take a Hike or Walk Together

More than 350 million acres (142 million hectares) of forestland throughout the United States and Canada is certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Forest Management Standard, and a 96% of this vast area is open to the public for recreation. With all those certified acres, it’s likely there’s a great opportunity for a hike or leisurely nature walk with smaller children in a National Park or forest near you.

  • Birdwatch! Bird watching with children can build respect and compassion for nature and all living things. Birding can also help kids refine their skills in concentration and observation. Head out as a family on a nature walk to a local park, forest, or nearby area and observe birds. Watch Maya the Science Kid for some helpful tips on getting started and some essentials you’ll want to have on your excursion, or read Audubon’s tips and games to encourage children to try birding.



  • Listen to birdsong and check out these STEM-focused ideas for elementary, middle, and high school students inspired by the Sounds Around activity found in Project Learning Tree’s PreK-8 Guide. A simplified version of this activity is downloadable as a free family activity (in English and Español) and watch PLT Colorado‘s Danielle Ardrey demonstrate how families can try the activity out in their own backyard to grow their STEM skills and environmental literacy.


  • For younger children ages 1-6, trees are the perfect early childhood introduction to nature! Make the most of the trees and forests near you (in any setting!) by exploring nature through the five senses and four seasons. Trees & Me: Activities for Exploring Nature With Young Children includes indoor and outdoor activities and downloadable music to accompany.

National park service logo

  • Head to a national park! Getting kids outside has many benefits beyond physical health. When spending time outdoors, kids develop respect and understanding of the natural world. With over 400 national parks and monuments to explore, national parks are a great way to inspire a love of nature in kids. Check out PLT’s Celebrating National Parks to explore the history of national parks, activities to try with children, and how to incorporate PLT curriculum to enhance learning. Plus, the Every Kid Outdoors pass allows any fourth grader (and a car full of family and friends) to enter National Parks, Forests, and many other national lands and waters for free!


  • Connect children to nature through sensory experiences on your visit with the handy Seeds to Trees Pocket Guide. Designed for families with children ages 3–6, it includes four hands-on experiences to do with children with tips for leading outdoor activities and embracing play and exploration. Plus, at just 4 by 6 inches, the guide is small enough to fit into a pocket or backpack!


  • Scavenger hunts are a fantastic way to get kids outside and learning about nature! Make a list of the items you hope to find on a walk or in the garden. Split up into pairs or play individually, then have children search for items on the list. Print this Bingo sheet created by Michigan PLT or create your own grid suited to a particular level or topic.



2.) Get Artsy and Inspired by Nature

Mix up your family time outside by looking for natural elements and discarded materials to turn into eco-friendly art projects. Here are a few ideas bring outdoor experiences and lessons back into your home, celebrate someone special, and make new memories.


  • Nature Cards are a great gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Parent’s Day, or any day of the year to celebrate someone special! This activity is simple and easy to prepare, and kids will have a great time enhancing their creative skills. Head outside to collect various natural elements such as fallen leaves, branches, grass, acorns, and whatever else they can find, then have them decorate their card with the items they found. Check out this Father’s Day nature card for some inspiration to get started!


  • A nature scrapbook (all ages) is also an excellent way for you to remember those special days. Take photos on your walk and let children collect flowers, leaves, seed cases, twigs, and other nature finds to decorate scrapbook pages. Collecting and arranging materials is a fun approach for children to practice fine motor skills without having to write complex sentences.


  • Have young learners take a closer look at the leaves and objects you find by searching for shapes and colors with Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) The Shape of Things family activity (in English and Español) and investigate shapes and colors found in both natural and built environments. This free family activity ideal for ages 5-9 is a simplified version of Early Childhood Guide: Activity 1—The Shape of Things. Follow along as Maine PLT facilitator, Joanne Alex, reads aloud a story about shapes in the human world then uses a simple, paper “shape necklace” to hunt for shapes in nature. She shows us how to make different shapes out of twigs and then give us a challenge. 


  • There are so many creative ways young learners can put their studies into action with a three-dimensional forest diorama. Experiment with moss and other natural objects, paint, cardboard boxes, animal figurines kids find or make, and more. For a few ideas, check out our “Tree Art Projects” Pinterest board full of ideas to supplement lessons from PLT’s Trees & Me: Activities for Exploring Nature with Young Children.

seven different art project tiles using leaves and recycled objects



3. Cook and Relax by the Deck or Garden

If your Mother’s, Father’s, or other Parents’ Day tradition is firmly founded in spending time grilling or relaxing on your deck or porch, you can still support forests from the comfort of your chef’s hat and lawn chair! Look for paper supplies like cups and plates with the SFI label. The label means the fiber used to make the supplies was sourced responsibly, meeting SFI Standards for water quality, biodiversity, wildlife conservation, and more. Products certified to SFI Standards are sold in more than 120 countries. You’ll find on a wide range of both everyday items and once-a-year items like Father’s Day cards.

children stand in front of three tall bat boxes made with sfi-certified cedar

  • It may have been a while since your family last built something, but you can make an easy bird or bat house with SFI-certified wood together. Bats and birds have a close relationship with forests, providing insect eating and seed spreading ecosystem services that create healthy habitat for other animals, so consider giving back with a project that supports the birds, bats, and forests nearest you.


  • Families with younger children can take learning about the bats, birds, and other animals that call trees home a step further with PLT’s Trees as Habitats family activity (in English and Español). Encourage kids to observe the different stages of tree growth and the relationships between animals that live in a forest. Be sure to check out the full activity (and 49 others!) in Project Learning Tree’s PreK-8 Guide.


  • Set up a bird feeder to birdwatch from home. When children take responsibility for a bird feeder it can help educate them about the wildlife in their community and foster an early appreciation for nature. Get tips and ideas for creating your own bird feeders made of recycled and natural materials and learn about why we should be careful with them. If you are going to set up a bird feeder, be aware that collisions with nearby glass windows are very dangerous to birds, causing up to 1 billion bird deaths each year in the U.S. alone. Whether you use tape, paint, or film, research and install a few inexpensive and easy solutions to reduce bird-window collisions near any feeders.students-gather-around-school-pollinator-garden


  • Start a garden bed this summer! Untreated SFI-certified wood makes an excellent border for your backyard vegetable garden beds and gardening is a terrific way to spend time with kids in nature. Children won’t even know they’re learning while the discover the delights of seeing seedlings sprout and taste things they’ve grown (while learning new skills and building confidence.)


  • Perfect for ages 5-12, PLT’s free family activity Have Seeds, Will Travel (in English and Español) encourages kids to observe, collect, and classify plant seeds. Have children examine their seed collection and invent a system for sorting or classifying them. Explain that plants have developed many different methods of seed dispersal to ensure the success of their species. This activity is a simplified version of PLT’s PreK-8 Guide: Activity 43—Have Seeds, Will Travel.



4. Encourage Passion to Become a Profession

Do your children love spending time outdoors? Are they enthusiastic about sustainability and learning and sharing about the environment? Help inspire ages 13+ to follow their dreams and find a green career pathway that matches their personality with PLT’s free trial of the Green Jobs Quiz

The forest and conservation sector offers many rewarding, diverse jobs—some you may have never known existed!


  • For young adults ages 18+, mentorship programs can help determine their goals and consider the many green jobs available. PLT Canada’s Green Mentor program is a chance to network with other professionals to learn more about their experiences starting a green career pathway. The next cohort is starting in October 2022—but you can sign up and read a few first-person stories from program participants today!


  • Are you planning to attend the SFI/PLT 2022 Annual Conference in Madison, Wisconsin from June 14–16? The SFI Conference Green Mentor Program is currently recruiting mentors! Anyone attending the conference with over three years of professional experience can sign up (it includes a four-month commitment to meet with mentee 2–3 hours per month virtually and at the conference).


  • If the young people in your life already know they’re interested in a forest or forest product-related profession, encourage them to check out the annual Thru The Trees Video Contest. You can also support their interests by exploring the Forest Literacy Framework, tailored to American and Canadian audiences, to learn the forest, tree, and sustainable forest management concepts that everyone should know by the time they’re 18. 


Looking for more ideas and resources to support your family learning about forests and encouraging green career pathways?

Be sure to sign up for SFI’s, Project Learning Tree, and PLT Canada’s Newsletters and check out “11 Tips for Parents to Connect Kids to the Outdoors”.



PLT’s New Video Brings Forest-Focused Education to Life

We are proud to share a new video about Project Learning Tree, produced in collaboration with BBC StoryWorks, and featuring USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.



The video, entitled “The Forest Classrooms Raising Responsible Children”, was presented at the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit as part of the Better Lives Through Better Business series that explores the brands and organizations around the world working to improve global sustainability and support future generations. PLT is a program of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration.


The video helps tell Project Learning Tree’s story through the voices of Forest Service Chief Christiansen, local youth, and PLT-trained educators, and features a handful of activities that can be found in PLT’s new Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide, an award-winning collection of 50 hands-on educational activities that get children ages five through fourteen outdoors to learn about the natural world.


In addition to the new guide, Project Learning Tree offers a variety of resources for parents, educators, sustainability professionals, and community leaders, including:


Please share this video and connect with your local PLT State network to access high-quality professional development tailored to your state’s standards and environment.


Interested in supporting PLT’s goal to get more youth learning about and in nature? Please consider a one-time or recurring gift to Project Learning Tree. Visit plt.org/donate or contact us to learn more!


PLT GreenSchools Honored With 10th Anniversary of Green Ribbon Schools Awards

us department of education green ribbon schoolsTen years ago, many national and state agencies and organizations joined together to urge the US Department of Education to help promote sustainable school facilities as a proven means to engage students in hands-on learning and increase achievement. The group urged the Department to create an award to provide incentive for more green school activity across the United States. Today, the award is known as the Green Ribbon School program, serving as a symbol of green school excellence.

This year, we are thrilled to announce that many registered PLT GreenSchools have been recognized as awardees of the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program. They are among the 27 schools, three early learning centers, five districts, and five post-secondary institutions that are being honored for their innovative efforts to:

  • reduce environmental impact and utility costs
  • improve health and wellness
  • ensure effective environmental and sustainability education


Among these outstanding, award-winning PLT GreenSchools are:

Alabama  — Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa, AL

Florida — Christ the King Catholic School, Jacksonville, FL

Indiana — Discovery Charter School, Porter, IN

North Carolina — Wake County Public School System, Cary, NC

Utah — Shadow Valley Elementary School, Ogden, UT

Virginia — Prince William County Public Schools, Manassas, VA

spread of plt's greenschools investigations
Learn more about PLT’s GreenSchools program and register to access five hands-on, student-driven investigations to green your school.

Wisconsin — Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center, Stevens Point, WI


Highlights from Two Registered PLT GreenSchools

Gain a little inspiration with these highlights from the nomination packets of two registered PLT GreenSchools recognized as 2021 US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools:


Discovery Charter School

Discovery Charter School (DCS) is a Title I school in Porter, Indiana, comprised of 60 staff and nearly 500 students in grades K through eight. The school was founded in 2010 as the direct result of efforts undertaken by a group of families who wanted a school that incorporated place-based education for their elementary school-age children.

students care for the school beehive

The school building is adjacent to woodlands and the Indiana Dunes National Park, so DCS students have easy access. The neighboring forest and 14,000-year-old dunes provide a natural laboratory for students to make observations, explore plants, animals, waterways, to learn to care for the environment and develop a sense of place.

The school grounds are recognized as a Schoolyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. In addition, the native plantings have been recognized with the Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s Bringing Nature Home Award.

The site was designed to benefit pollinators, too! DCS is a certified Monarch Waystation with beehives and pollinator plantings, bat houses, and a rain garden.

Care is taken to spend time outdoors, and DCS is committed to using their outdoor spaces to contribute toward students’ mental, emotional, and physical health. When weather permits, students dine in an outdoor lunch space and learn in an outdoor classroom that allows for outdoor seating and includes a rolling table and chalkboard.

children walk through a forest

Teachers plan regular field experiences where students reinforce their classroom learning outdoors with a hike or other outdoor activity. The school also has a dedicated school naturalist who prepares mini-lessons and creates resources for teachers, leads outdoor activities, organizes schoolwide events, and helps maintain garden spaces.

Environmental education is a cornerstone of the DCS experience, built into the curriculum of every grade level.


Here is an example of what that might look like across the school:

  • Kindergarten students use their five senses on the trail to explore the forest adjacent to the school. They visit the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve once a month throughout the school year to observe seasonal changes.


  • First Graders are learning about soil through a hands-on program, then explore different soils on school grounds and use soil colors to paint; finally, they put together a classroom worm bin to observe soil formation in action.


  • Second Graders are integrating STEM while learning about weather, creating structures to withstand different “wind speeds” from a fan.


  • Third Grade hunts for examples of common and proper nouns (or other parts of speech) as they hike the trail.


  • Fourth Graders learn to identify and tap maple trees on school grounds; they calculate quantities of sap and syrup by applying volume conversions and adding fractions.


  • Fifth Graders learn about energy sources, energy use, and conservation; students receive Take Action Kits filled with energy-saving products for their home.


  • Sixth Graders learn to identify invasive plants in the field and to use appropriate tools to remove them from the native forest ecosystem.


  • Seventh Grade identifies the need to improve the school’s nature play area through an “Earth Force” project and research outdoor play elements, writing letters to request donations, installing a boundary rope, planting native plants to restore surrounding forestland, and creating a video for fellow students.


  • Eighth Graders work with the school naturalist and the technology teacher to procure labels for native plants along a school nature trail, complete with QR codes linking to student research on each plant.


Christ the King Catholic School

Christ the King Catholic School (CTK) is an urban parish school in the heart of Jacksonville, Florida. Built in 1955, the school grounds include 40 acres and serves nearly 300 students from grades pre-kindergarten to eighth Grade.

CTK’s green school journey began in 2008, when parents met with the principal and middle school science teacher to discuss how to make the school’s science education more memorable and meaningful. CTK’s subsequent pursuit of sustainability and STEM-focused education has paid off with several awards and accolades, including being designated a Florida Green Apple School and the first STREAM (Science Technology Religion Engineering Art and Math) accredited Catholic School in the State of Florida.

The school is known for its successful agricultural focus, and students participate in agricultural education programs that highlight student choices to reduce environmental impacts by collecting organic matter for composting, sustaining vermicomposting, and using recovered rainwater. CTK has impressive school gardens that feature a salad bar and stone beds. They are also in the process of developing field trips to the extension service canning facility to make canned foods from produce collected from garden harvests, as well as becoming a part of a program to raise chickens through their 4H club.

More than 75% of CTK’s educators have received Project Learning Tree training for environmental science and integrate our hands-on lessons across all grades. Environmental science and STEM are integrated into long-term projects for each grade level. These projects are data-driven and are carefully woven into the curriculum, designed for different progressions of learning:


  • Kindergarten students study butterflies, propagating lantana and other butterfly “food,” and tagging the butterflies as part of a national butterfly migration study. Students learn about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies by counting caterpillars and chrysalis in the garden and observing them until they hatch. They also have an engineering project where they create “hand pollinators” for milkweed plants.


  • First Graders grow lettuce and marigolds as part of their salad garden. The students incubate chickens and raise them over the course of the year, partnering with 7th grades and 4H Club members to show chickens at the Jacksonville Agricultural Fair.


  • Second Grade is in charge of the composting system that provides the soil for all of CTK’s gardens. Students advertise and collect composting scraps each week, weighing the compost and measuring moisture and temperature. This data is used to make adjustments to the compost and students graph their data in math classes.


  • Third Grade maintains the blueberry garden by weeding, fertilizing, maintaining bedding covering, and harvesting. The students then use their crops to make blueberry muffins to sell and raise funds for the L’Arche Harbor House, a nearby community for people with intellectual and developmental differences. The students even practice their engineering skills by designing a robotic “blueberry picker”!


  • Fourth Graders serve as energy “consultants,” using solar panels to do experiments to improve energy efficiency. Students have online digital access to the output of both panels at any given time and are able to see the effects of weather, season, and panel angle on output.


  • Fifth Grade serves as CTK’s 4R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink) experts. Students take a yearly field trip to the local recycling center and take part in the Junior Master Gardener program offered through the University of Florida’s Extension Service, meeting weekly with two master gardeners to plant, harvest, and maintain the school’s gardens.


  • Sixth Grade is part of the St. Johns Riverkeeper backpack program. The now seven-year-old project began by going to the creek and wetlands on Christ the King Property to learn about long-term data collection and observations. Then students, teachers, and volunteers visit the creek weekly to gather data on tides, water depth, turbidity, pH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, salinity, and species identification. The students spend time with Riverkeeper educators learning how to utilize the tools to collect data and create presentations of their observations.



A Healthy, Efficient Learning Environment

Now, more than ever, green schools are inspiring students and educators and connecting communities to nature. US Department of Education Secretary Cardona recently spoke about how many of the green schools were uniquely prepared for the global pandemic with outdoor classrooms and social-emotional curriculum. And still, many took the creative initiative to keep kids engaged while learning remotely and with new distancing protocols.

Hear Secretary Cardona announce the 10th annual cohort of Green Ribbon Schools and share what makes a green school successful. The Secretary goes on to describe how the awardees “use sustainability in context to teach important civic values and skills that encourage students to grow into responsible, compassionate, and contributing global citizens…This is even more important as we work to recover from a global health pandemic, where all schools have been forced to confront issues of school air quality, nutrition, and outdoor learning more directly than ever.”

Congratulations to the above awardees and to all the 2021 Green Ribbon Schools, school districts, and post-secondary institutions who have been honored with the US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools recognition awards this year. 

Learn more about PLT’s GreenSchools program and discover how PLT’s GreenSchools Investigations connect with ED-GRS’s three Pillars that the US Department of Education uses to define a green school.

PLT GreenSchools Honored as 2020 Green Ribbon Schools

Project Learning Tree is thrilled that 18 registered PLT GreenSchools have been recognized this year as part of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program. They are among the 39 schools, 11 school districts, and 5 postsecondary institutions that have been recently awarded for their innovative efforts to:

  1. reduce environmental impact and utility costs
  2. improve health and wellness
  3. ensure effective environmental and sustainability education


California  — Anderson W. Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta

Florida — Hobe Sound Elementary, Port Salerno Elementary, and Dr. David L. Anderson Middle with Martin County School District, Stuart

Hawaii — SEEQS: The School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability, Honolulu

Indiana — Fishers Elementary and Riverside Intermediate with Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation, Fishers

Kentucky — Redwood Cooperative School, Lexington; Locust Trace AgriScience Center with Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington

Maine — Camden Hills Regional High School, Rockport

Minnesota — School of Engineering and Arts, Golden Valley

New Jersey — Readington Middle School, Whitehouse Station

North Carolina — Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School, Raleigh

South Carolina — Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School, McClellanville

Utah — Bonneville Elementary School, Salt Lake City; Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant

Washington — Grover Cleveland STEM High School and Northgate Elementary School with Seattle Public Schools, Seattle


Congratulations to these awardees and to all the schools, school districts and postsecondary institutions who have been honored with the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools recognition award award this year. ED-GRS is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s effort to identify and communicate practices that result in improved student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness.


Two PLT Highlights

Here are some highlights from the nomination packets of two registered PLT GreenSchools recognized this year as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School:


School of Engineering and Arts, Minnesota

Recipient of a 2018 National Blue Ribbon Award, the School of Engineering and Arts (SEA), located in Golden Valley, MN is no stranger to US Department of Education accolades. Originally built in 1970 with an open school concept, SEA was named after Minnesota environmentalist, Sigurd Olson, as an environmentally focused school. Their Fuel Up to Play leadership group of 60 students advocates for in-school health and wellness activities like the daily morning “Jammin’ Minutes” program, which caught the attention of the Minnesota Vikings and earned them $15,000 in grants to produce more creative videos promoting healthy eating and the importance of drinking milk.

Student from the School of Engineering and Arts biomonitors a local river
Twice a year, fourth-graders from the School of Engineering and Arts biomonitor a local creek in partnership with the Hennepin County RiverWatch Program


  • Approximately 95% of SEA’s population either walks, bikes, buses, or carpools to and from school each day.
  • SEA utilizes SkySpark Analytics to benchmark utility consumption, including electric and gas. This is compiled into daily and annual trend data, which is continuously improved each year.


  • SEA does not use irrigation on the grounds, instead focusing on maintaining native habitat to balance soil biology.
  • There are low flow faucets on all sinks, all flushing devices are automated, and there are currently two bottle filling water fountain stations on site.

Waste & Recycling

  • 56% of SEA’s solid waste is diverted from landfilling or incinerating due to reduction, recycling and/or organics diversion.
  • The school is currently seeking funding to start district-wide composting.
  • 30% of paper used within the school’s office is post-consumer material or fiber from certified sourcing with the sustainable forestry initiative.
  • Cafeteria food service waste of fruits and vegetables is fed to onsite animals (chickens, reptiles, etc.)

Environmental Quality

  • Each of SEA’s classroom have at least two large windows, so most teachers do not turn on the fluorescent lights, due to adequate natural lighting.

School Site

  • Since occupancy in 2012, SEA has been working to re-establish native plants, orchards, and gardens.
  • A recycling and composting program has been in practice for the last eight years.
  • Junior Naturalist student leaders monitor and educate the school community energy use, proper recycling, and care of the school’s yard, gardens, and chickens.
  • Approximately 18% of SEA’s school yard is devoted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s School Forest program, where students not only learn core content, but also sustainable forest management practices as they work alongside Minnesota DNR Foresters and Minnesota Conservation Corps members.
  • SEA’s school site has more native and natural green space than typical of a public elementary school with approximately 75% of the school grounds devoted to ecologically beneficial use.
  • SEA’s school grounds feature a number of opportunities for outdoor learning, including:
    • Chickadee Landing (a designated bird observation area where students feed birds in the winter months)
    • 7 acre School Forest
    • 800 ft. of Native Prairie Patch (students collect seeds in the fall and grow seedlings in the greenhouse to be transferred to school grounds in the spring)
    • Native Butterfly Garden
    • 60 ft. Chicken Coop and Run (students take care of the chickens with daily feedings and watering, monitoring health, and collecting eggs)
    • Pumpkin Patch and Sunflower Garden
    • Kindergartener’s Tulip Beds
    • 30-tree Fruit Orchard
    • Raised Vegetable Garden Beds
    • 10’x16’ Greenhouse
    • Bluebird Houses (located around campus and managed by both students and staff to observe bird life cycles)

Read more, and check out a local profile of the School of Engineering and Arts, to learn how SEA is virtually celebrating amid COVID-19 pandemic self-quarantines, “Because,” as Principal Heather Hanson says, “in the midst of the dark cloud, this is a real ray of sunshine for us. It’s something to be celebrated and be proud of.”


Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School, North Carolina

Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary aims to develop environmentally-minded citizens who will change the world. Students are immersed in nature-based learning, including on-site rain, pollinator, and edible gardens installed on campus. School grounds are certified as Wildlife Habitat and they have significantly reduced the use of pesticides around campus. The student-led Green Bees Team implemented a school-wide recycling and food waste diversion program and feature bi-annual waste audits.

Here are some more highlights:

Kindergarten students release butterflies
Kindergarteners take part in a butterfly release during their Environmental Inquiry class at Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary School


  • Millbrook’s Green Bees and faculty Eco-Action Team members are working to reduce the school’s carbon footprint through energy conservation lessons, whereby children will design an action plan to reduce energy consumption.


  • The school’s outdoor learning spaces feature native plants and are designed for North Carolina’s climate to be water efficient. A rain garden helps reduce stormwater runoff across campus, reducing flooding and curbing erosion.

Waste & Recycling

  • Students collect and deposit recycling waste once a week and the school offers a composting program in the cafeteria, where students compost food scraps, which is used (in part) to feed the campus gardens, and then the excess is taken to a composting facility.
  • The school participates in a paper reusing program

Environmental Quality

  • 5th-grade students annually complete a Problem Based Learning (PBL) unit focused on improving the school’s air quality. NC Department of Environmental Quality representatives present at the school and ask students to use their research to create public service announcements, brochures, and posters to present to parents and other community members to educate them on the air quality.

School Site

  • In 2005, a 0.375-acre watershed was constructed. This wetland drains 14 acres of the 16-acre site, reducing the annual Neuse River nitrogen load 85% below the existing school site.
  • Students maintain Millbrook’s on-site food garden with the help of the Raleigh InterFaith Food Shuttle. InterFaith Food Shuttle has placed a Food Corps volunteer at the school, and the volunteer is on campus two full days per week, co-teaching garden curriculum, maintaining garden space with student help, and monitoring the cafeteria and composting.
  • Students participate in yoga and meditation classes throughout the year. The students are led through mindfulness activities and yoga routines, by a teacher trained in trauma-informed outreach, to promote students’ mental and physical health.

Millbrook prides itself on being a comprehensive, nature-immersive school with daily instruction delivered through the lens of Environmental Science and Sustainability education. All licensed staff received training from Project Learning Tree. Read more.


Learn more about PLT’s GreenSchools program and discover how PLT’s GreenSchools Investigations connect with ED-GRS’s three Pillars that the U.S. Department of Education uses to define a green school.