At the GSCE Student Summit, students champion green schools movement

Published on: 
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Marissa Vessels

This year, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC is hosting the 6th annual Green Schools Conference and Expo (GSCE), which brings together thought leaders and champions of green schools. The GSCE Student Summit, which runs concurrently with the GSCE, is curated by Greening Forward and the Center for Green Schools, and provides a unique event for middle and high school students to convene, learn and share their environmental work.The student summit will take place March 31 through April 1, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Penn. Students can register online now through March 31 for a discounted student rate of $200.

Marissa Vessels is the program director at Greening Forward, one of the largest entirely youth-driven not-for-profit organizations. Through grants, mentorships and other programs, Greening Forward catalyzes the youthful energy and mindset of students to create a more sustainable world. Here, Marissa explains why growing and supporting the green schools movement is key to growing a better future for all. 

The habits we learn during our childhood never truly leave us. Whether it’s eating a balanced diet, working hard in school or treating others with respect, our years of youth are the most transformative when it comes to building positive habits that stick with us for life—and caring for our planet is no different. 

Every single day, young people all over the United States spend between six and seven hours at school, or about 29 percent of their day. This means that they are spending 140 hours a month, or 1,680 hours a year, at school—more waking time than they spend at home or participating in community activities during the week. This is why growing and supporting the green schools movement is the key to helping young people develop healthy environmental habits and, in turn, a brighter (and greener) future for us all. 

The green schools movement is rooted in the idea that all students in all school districts should have access to environmentally equitable school buildings and the opportunity to learn environmental literacy. Whether it be indoor air quality, chemical exposure or the physical construction of school buildings, students have the ability to make tangible change on green issues that matter. The movement is the perfect opportunity for students to learn about, and take action on, these critical issues, grow their personal and professional skill set from an early age and ultimately pave the way for a future in the green collar industry. 

For today’s youth, living a sustainable lifestyle means so much more than simply knowing how to recycle or compost. Instead, our planet is relying on young people to build sustainable habits that will transform the way they live their daily lives into the future. From being conscious about water consumption to knowing how the food we grow and eat affects climate change, students are the key to solving the global environmental issues we all face—and the green schools movement is where this change begins. 

Students who attend the summit will be able to

  • Meet and network with other passionate young people from all over the country.
  • Hone core leadership skills from industry-leading experts that will help them take sustainability projects to the next level.
  • Learn more about how they can transform their passion for sustainability into a career.

The skills, friendships and ideas students acquire during their time at the GSCE Student Summit will stay with them as they head home and put their dreams to work, bettering their local communities and creating a greener future for us all. 

Register for the Student Summit

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and let us know what you hope to gain from the Summit.