Our Eco-Friendly Journey

By Ashley Ireland
May 24, 2024

Our journey toward this certification began with a deep commitment to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly school environment. Over the past year, students, teachers, and staff at Annandale Terrace Elementary have collaborated on a variety of green initiatives aimed at reducing our ecological footprint and fostering a culture of environmental stewardship.

A Year of Get2Green

Key Initiatives

Here are some of the key projects and activities that helped us earn the Silver EcoSchool Certification:

  1. Recycling Programs: This year we completed Rubicon's "Trash or Treasure" program. For both Halloween and Valentine's Day, students brought in their candy wrappers from these waste-filled holidays. This trash was then recycled into plastic pellets to be used for other plastic items. This work could not have been done without our dedicate Get2Green students who dutifully collected the candy wrappers and counted the pieces for our school- wide competition. We even won Rubicon's photo contest!
  2. School Garden: Our school garden has flourished, providing a hands-on learning experience for students. They learned about plant biology, sustainable gardening practices, and the importance of local food production. The garden has also become a beautiful, serene space for the entire school community to enjoy.

    We also had a special visitor to the garden this year! United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, came to help us plant some pollinators so our edible garden could flourish. He also rolled out the new School Lunch Program where students now have access to fresh grown fruits and vegetables. 

  3. Environmental Education: Environmental themes have been integrated into our curriculum across various subjects. Students participated in projects and lessons that emphasized the importance of protecting our natural resources and living sustainably.
  4. Wildlife Habitat: We enhanced our school grounds to create a welcoming habitat for local wildlife. Bird feeders, butterfly gardens, and native plantings have attracted various species, providing students with the opportunity to observe and learn about local ecosystems.
  5. Tree Planting: With the help of Fairfax County's Urban Forestry and Merrifield Gardens, we planted a total of 20 trees this year! Not only do our students now have a fun memory they can visit as they grow, but the trees will do wonders for the enviornment! They will provide oxygen, animal habitats, and most importantly shade for our teachers and students when they are out at recess. 

    We were even able to have an Arbor Day Ceremony, which was featured on local news!

Community Involvement

Our success would not have been possible without the support and involvement of our wonderful community. Parents, local organizations, and volunteers have played a crucial role in our environmental initiatives, from helping to plant our garden to participating in clean-up events and fundraising for eco-friendly projects. We would like to give a special thanks to Rubicon, Fairfax Urban Forestry, Fairfax County Master Gardeners, Stuart Farms, Merrifield Garden Center, and Home Depot for their help in expanding our efforts. 

Looking Ahead

Achieving the Silver EcoSchool Certification is a testament to the collective efforts of our school community, but our journey does not end here. We are committed to continuing our sustainability efforts and striving for even higher levels of environmental excellence. Our next goal is to aim for the Gold EcoSchool Certification, and with the ongoing support and enthusiasm of our students, staff, and community, we are confident we can achieve it.

Celebrating Our Success

Here is what United States National Wildlife Federation had to say about Annandale Terrace, "Your students' work in tree planting, recycling, and edible gardening has been impactful and engaging. The way your very active Annandale Terrace Elementary School Get2Green Club has shared the environmental stewardship actions they are taking, not just with the rest of the school, but with the broader community has been impressive. They have formed partnerships and worked closely with many groups and local businesses including the local Master Gardeners, Urban Forestry, the county government, Stuart Farms, Home Depot, and Merrifield Garden Center. Their efforts have been highlighted on the local news, bringing more awareness to sustainability at their school. 

We are proud of all the work you have accomplished this year. We look forward to your participation and continued action in the next school year."

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making our school a greener, more sustainable place to learn and grow. Together, we are making a difference for our planet and inspiring future generations to continue the important work of environmental stewardship.

Let’s keep up the great work, Annandale Terrace Elementary School! Here’s to a greener future for all.

Go Get2Green Club!