About the Green Education Foundation
Creating tomorrow's environmental leaders
A student proudly shows off the squash at the Green Chimneys vocational farmstand. Students are responsible for harvesting produce, stocking the stand and keeping track of sales and inventory.
About the 2012 Winner of the Green Thumb Challenge
The 2012 winner of the Green Thumb Challenge, Green Chimneys, was founded in 1947 as a 75-acre private school, where its 11 young students could garden and interact with animals. Today, the residential and day school in Brewster, NY, serves nearly 200 K-12 students with special education needs, including emotional disturbances, mental illness, social and behavioral challenges and other disabilities. The campus has grown to 200-plus acres and includes two organic gardens: a 1-acre children's garden and the 5-acre Boni-Bel vocational garden. In addition, the school runs a small maple sugaring operation, a greenhouse, an orchard, a farmstand and a country store.
Green Chimneys uses therapeutic horticulture, animal-assisted therapy and other services to help build self-esteem, social intelligence, coping strategies and practical life skills, as well as appreciation and respect for all living things. Its gardening programs, integrated throughout the curriculum, allow students to see that their work has a positive effect on the lives of others.
"We're working with kids who were born to stand out, not fit in," says Michelle Marquez, the Green Chimneys horticulture teacher. "Gardening helps our students define themselves based on what they can do, not what they can't."
Learn more about Green Chimneys in our blog post.
It's no secret that the future will hold many environmental challenges, from pollution and climate change to invasive plant and animal species. How can we prepare ourselves and our children to overcome these challenges?
One organization, the Green Education Foundation, is doing just that. The GEF develops and distributes classroom curriculum that teaches sustainability and environmental science to children K-12. Formed in 2008, this effective nonprofit organization has quickly become a leader in environmental education.
The GEF not only has dozens of classroom curriculums, but they also have courses to train teachers in the new science of sustainability. They also create fun events, such as Green Thumb Week, which got 770,000 kids gardening, and the Waste-Free Snack Challenge for Earth Day. They even have a new course in green building. During National Green Week 2011, the foundation mobilized more than five million children to participate in school-based sustainability programs that cut energy usage and promote recycling.
GEF isn't about politics; it's about teaching kids the skills they'll need to address the environmental conditions they'll face as adults. And it's about success in life: Just as free enterprise thrived during the Industrial Revolution and the Computer Revolution, a new generation of entrepreneurs will make their living in the Green Revolution. The GEF is giving them a great start.
There's no single answer to the challenge of building an environmentally sustainable future, but the work of the GEF is a good beginning. Gardener's Supply is proud to support the GEF and we hope you will too. You can learn more at greeneducationfoundation.org
At Green Chimneys, 2012 winner of the challenge, students have a greenhouse where they can start plants from seed.