Virtual Green Schools Conference motivates and engages attendees

Published on: 
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Kristen Keim

On June 28 and 29, the Center for Green Schools (CFGS) at USGBC and the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) connected over 500 building industry professionals, educators, nonprofit and government professionals, and school or district leaders, representing 14 countries and 45 states, with fellow green school leaders and engaging education content in the first virtual Green Schools Conference (GSC).

The two-day virtual conference featured well-paced and diverse content on the latest research and practices in K–12 school sustainability. The conference also included peer-to-peer engagement with conversation rooms for attendees to exchange ideas with green school thought leaders and award winners—an opportunity never offered before.

Overall, the attendees were left feeling motivated, engaged and ready to apply what they’ve learned to their work and lives.“Telling isn't teaching. The real learning is the doing and the personal connections you make…So my advice is just do it!”, said Diane Lill, Green Kids director.

Opening keynote

Justin Shaifer, a LinkedIn Top Voice in Technology and rising star in STEM education and advocacy, kicked off the first day of the conference with a motivating keynote presentation on applying technology to engage young people in STEM. The keynote was capped with an engaging conversation between Shaifer and Angel Akinleye, the Best of Green Schools Student Leader winner.

“If you or I can light the spark in that young person’s mind and help them with social media…point them in the direction, show them role models and reasons they can succeed, I think that we’ll have a massively impactful generation of young people,” said Shaifer.

Youth keynote

The second day of GSC began with an inspiring keynote session presented by 10 dynamic youth climate activists representing three environmental youth councils and leadership groups. The cohort presented a compelling argument for the relationship between climate change education and equity by providing a series of personal narratives about their work. The session concluded with tangible strategies and a call for action for all to advance climate change education in their own community.

“While impacting my community by donating clothing items was inspiring,” said Paloma Jimenez, a youth climate activist, during the program, "what I found the most motivating was the support and trust our school administrators had in our power as youth. They believed in our ability to make change and gave us the time, space and resources to implement our ambition.”

Green Schools Awards

Presented in partnership, the CFGS and GSNN announced the seven Best of Green Schools Award winners on June 29. The winners included an international school, a Pennsylvania school district, a California K–12 educator, an incoming Howard University student, a CEO of a green schoolyard nonprofit, an outdoor education nonprofit and a sustainable flooring company.

Additionally, the CFGS presented the three 2021 Green Apple Award winners, which included a nonprofit for school gardens and two school environmental clubs.

Read about each of the Best of Green Schools and Green Apple Award winners.

“Our students are the livelihood and the heart of our district, so we want them to be involved," said Eddie Willson, curriculum director of Woodland Hills School District.

Continue accessing the content

Whether you missed an interesting session or just want to take advantage of more than 30 virtual sessions presented during GSC, you’re in luck! Registered attendees will have exclusive access to the all session recordings in the conference platform until Aug. 30.

If you couldn’t join us for the show, we are offering replay passes for access to the conference content. The replay pass will be available for just $60 from July 1–15.

We will also announce soon how the content will be made available for you to access after Aug. 30. Sign up for the GSC newsletter to receive the announcement.

“Sustainability is not just about environmental solutions—it’s about sustaining humanity,” said Jenny Seydel, executive director of the GSNN. We look forward to seeing you next year to continue supporting the future of our K–12 students.

Purchase a replay pass for the 2021 GSC