Ways to Earn Points
You can earn points by completing one of the activities from the list below. If you have another idea, you can also create your own activity and submit it. We will review your submission and assign a point value. Either way, you will use the same form to Report Points.
Ongoing Engagement & Campaigns
Green Team Meeting
This is an activity we hope you repeat often! Anytime your green team has an official meeting (either in person or online), you can earn points! This group could be known by other names like Eco Club, Garden Club, Recycling Club, etc. but the goals and objectives of the group should align with sustainably centered themes. Our Green Team Handbook is available as a reference for those starting a green team or wanting more information.
*50 points maximum can be earned from this category per school, however activities accomplished during the meetings are still eligible for points
Nature Club Meeting
To help foster the continued exploration and study of nature and the environment, the Lower Platte South Natural Resource District (LPSNRD) offers nature clubs in several of our district schools. These clubs meet after school and provide students time to be actively engaged in hands-on activities while learning about nature. Nature club activities include making bird feeders, dissecting owl pellets, and embarking on nature scavenger hunts. This is an activity we hope you repeat often! Anytime your nature club has an official meeting, you can earn points! Contact LPSNRD here (email@example.com) for more information on starting a nature club.
Water Waste Campaign
Design posters and signs to put up in bathrooms and classrooms to remind students to save water. Include facts and tips on reducing water waste to further engage students in this campaign.
Tip of the Week
5 points per four tips
Create an environmental or sustainability “tip of the week” in your school newsletter, announcements, or social media. This project can either engage students or be staff led. Submit copies of newsletters, announcements, or social media posts to the GSRP activity submission form when four tips have been completed in order to earn your school points.
Establish or maintain an active school garden! Our Lincoln Public Schools Garden Manual is available for anyone interested in starting up a school garden or utilizing an existing outdoor space better.
*5 points each time a classroom lesson or other outdoor education activity takes place in your outdoor learning spaces such as planting, watering, pulling weeds, etc.
*30 point maximum for additional activities
Idle Free Campaign
Promote sustainability by putting together an idle-free campaign. The Idle Free Schools Toolkit includes all of the information needed to run an effective idling reduction campaign at a school in order to reduce student exposure to toxic vehicle exhaust. It also provides the resources to make this a student-run science or community involvement project, providing students with the opportunity to learn how to run a public service campaign while expanding their science and math skills.
Establish a student power patrol to check on classrooms, offices, and other areas of your school to provide feedback on energy savings. “Oops” and “Thank you” cards can be left to inform staff on how they are doing on conserving energy. Get more information and ideas from our Power Patrol Resource.
Save a Tree Campaign
Create signs for paper towel and napkin dispensers, make announcements, change default printer settings to double-sided, etc. You can even pick a date for a school-wide no paper day and educate students and staff about the importance of reducing our paper waste. Earn an extra 10 points if you engage staff in a competition to reduce paper consumption across departments or grade levels. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information about a staff competition.
Walking School Bus
Identify and map safe routes to school and develop a plan to coordinate a walking school bus for a group of your neighbors or friends.
Start an energy saving campaign at your school by implementing a school wide “lights-off” hour at the same time each day for a week, or the same time for one day a week per month. Encourage other energy saving tips by informing teachers about Five Ways to Save Energy in the Classroom. Teach a lesson on Energy Efficiency to take your energy saving campaign to the next level!
Bring Your Own Water Bottle Campaign
LPS has been installing new water fountains that allow for easier access to fill a reusable water bottle, thus reducing waste! Earn your school points by creating a poster to place near these new water fountains encouraging the use of reusable water bottles. Be sure to emphasize the fact that reusable water bottles reduce waste and create a healthier environment!
Speakers & Presentations
Sustainability Presentation at Staff Meeting
Invite someone from the LPS Sustainability office to speak at a staff meeting (anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes) and review available programs and existing efforts and resources available in the district.
Native Plants Save Resources!
Partner: Spring Creek Prairie Audubon
Introduction and outdoor activities about planting native Nebraska plants for birds & bugs. This not only provides great and much needed habitat for our Nebraska birds & pollinators, it saves on water usage, gas usage for mowers, and maintenance (money & time resources). The activity can be for all ages, but will end with a portion where students help to think of projects and plans to increase habitat on school yards and at home and help birds AND to save resources and be GREEN. E-mail Jason St. Sauver at email@example.com to schedule the presentation.
Let’s Talk Energy!
Partner: Lincoln Electric System
Invite your local electric utility, Lincoln Electric System, out to your school for one of their presentations that can cover a variety of topics including energy saving strategies, renewable energy sources, or something more specific on wind or solar energy. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a presentation.
Natural Resource Classroom Presentations
Partner: Lower Platte South Natural Resource District
10 points each
To help facilitate and integrate environmental education into classrooms, LPSNRD offers classroom presentations on a variety of natural resource topics. Fun activities raise environmental awareness and stress the importance of conservation. Our presentations are aligned to fit curriculum and state standards. A few examples of popular presentations are below. Contact LPSNRD here (email@example.com) to learn more about these activities, schedule a presentation, or work on a custom presentation for your class!
- Wetland in a Bag (grades 2-5)
- Tree Trivia (grade 3)
- Wildlife CSI (grades 4-8)
- Incredible Journey (grades 4-6)
- Ground Water Flow Model (grades 4-8)
- Don’t Lose Ground (grade 6)
- GPS and Geocaching (grades 5-12)
- Any Natural Resource Topic (all grades)
Community Engagement & Special Events
Green Apple Day of Service
Join an international movement of nearly a million volunteers in over 70 countries to celebrate the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of global leaders in sustainability. Get more information and project ideas on their website. (Hint: Choosing one of our other activity ideas and registering it on the Green Apple website will earn points for both!)
Host an NRD Nature Night
These free evening events are designed for students and their families to experience and connect with nature. All students in the school and their families are welcome to attend and participate in activities like potting plants, making paper, creating recycled art, and interacting with live animals. Nature nights are a great way for a school to engage their families in learning together while increasing their knowledge of Nebraska’s natural resources. The number of nature nights we can organize each year is limited. Contact the NRD for more information.
Community Litter Clean Up
Partner: Keep Lincoln Lancaster County Beautiful
Clean up litter near your school, or anywhere in the community! Supplies for the clean up are available through the Keep Lincoln Lancaster County Beautiful Community Improvement Program. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a clean and receive your supplies.
Walk/Bike to School Day
Step right up! Join the movement that inspires the entire community to come together in order to promote health and safer routes for students to walk or bike to school. While October 2nd is this year’s official date, communities are welcome to celebrate any day that best fits their schedules. For more information and to register your school visit the Walk and Bike to School website.
Host an Earth Day Celebration at your school. The official date is April 22nd, but we hope schools will schedule their celebrations all month long! This celebration could be an assembly, a family night, a series of lesson/activities throughout the school, or whatever other creative way your school chooses to celebrate and educate.
Zero Waste Event
Make one of your school events a zero waste event! Whether it is an athletic event, family night, or some other school activity, strive to make it zero waste by choosing materials/supplies wisely and making recycling and composting containers available to attendees. Always avoid styrofoam when planning school activities – go for paper or something reusable! For more information and ideas visit this website.
Recycling Challenges and Programs
Cans4Books Recycling Drive
April is National school Library Month AND Earth Month, so that means it is time for the LPS Cans4Books Recycling Drive! Raise money for your school library AND help the environment by recycling your aluminum cans. Bring your cans to A Can Recycling from April 1st – April 30th and be sure to mention that you are donating to the LPS Cans4Books drive. Donations made for your school will be used to purchase books for your school library. The drop off location is A Can Recycling, 3255 S. 10th St. Schools with the top dollar earnings (per capita) will win Barnes & Nobles gift certificates for their library.
PepsiCo Recycle Rally
Participate in the PepsiCo Recycle Rally competition that began on September 3rd and ends on April 28th. LPS schools are eligible to join the Challenge League which has a grand prize of $50,000! Go to the PepsiCo website to fill out the Recycle Rally application form. Schools must be accepted by PepsiCo as participants for the program. LPS already tracks the weight of waste so all you have to do is record the weight of the recyclables in your PepsiCo Recycle Rally account that will be made when you apply to be a participant. There are resources and prizes available through this competition. Happy recycling!
Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge
Enroll in the Plastic Film Recycling Challenge and set up a collection system for plastic film (grocery bags, newspaper sleeves, ziploc bags, etc.) to be recycled from your school. The challenge begins each year on America Recycles Day, November 15, and lasts until April 15. Trex will provide your school with promotional materials and three recycling bins. A volunteer must weigh and report the collected materials every month before delivering them to one of the participating drop-off retailer locations. Check out their website for more information and to enroll.
**Crayola offices have shut down due to COVID-19 so collected materials need to be stored at the school until the facility reopens.**
Set up a collection system for used/dried up markers in your building. Any markers can be recycled through the free Crayola ColorCycle program. To get Crayola ColorCycle started in your school, you’ll need to select someone to be the ColorCycle Champion. The ColorCycle Champion will organize the collection and shipment of markers to the conversion facility and spread the word about the program and its features.
ColorCycle is also a great opportunity for teachers and their students to explore eco-friendly practices. Specially developed standards-based lesson plans are available to enrich instruction and promote lively class discussions.
*5 bonus points for doing one of their lessons*
Goodwill Donation Drive
Host a donation drive with Lincoln Goodwill to collect clothing, electronics, and home goods at your school to divert products from the landfill. Donation drives generally last two weeks. You will need to decide what days you would like bins dropped off and picked up and how many bins you want placed. Goodwill will provide flyers and announcements for you to get the word out about the drive. Contact Molly Deaver, email@example.com, (402) 438-2022 ext. 118 to set up the drive.
As of the fall of 2019 all LPS schools were participating in a school lunch composting program! Go the extra mile and introduce composting across the whole school including classrooms, offices, and restrooms. This will include new waste stations that have a container for compost and a small hanging trash can with a LANDFILL sticker to help students and staff understand that we should be recycling and composting more than we put in the trash. Contact the Sustainability Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to implement this setup.
Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus
Participate in a journey to turn your school into a Tree Campus! This program was developed by the Arbor Day Foundation and provides a checklist guide and further resources and information on how to become a Tree Campus on their website.
Submissions due April 1
Repurpose used cartons to enhance the school garden and learn about environmental stewardship, sustainable packaging and healthy living. Enter the Carton2Garden contest and participants have a chance to win $5,000 if they are chosen as the winner! More information on the contest can be found on the Carton2Garden website.
Curriculum & Activities
Save or Waste
Practice recognizing saving and wasting behavior with this matching activity. This activity can be adapted to multiple age groups and aims at starting conversations about conserving energy at home.
Take it Outside
Take one of your classroom lessons and adapt it to be an outdoor lesson. For example, conduct your math lesson outside counting with flowers, or a science lesson identifying parts of the plant. This can be done with any age group or subject area, but here is a great resource for Using Nature to Meet Educational Standards at the elementary level.
*50 point maximum can be achieved in this category
Have students complete a carbon footprint calculator activity and brainstorm ways they can reduce their impact.
From Paper to Paper
Explore the steps required to make recycled paper by doing them yourself! Follow these simple steps to make paper from recycled paper!
Nebraska Project Learning Tree
10 points per completed activity
Explore the importance and diverse uses of trees and forests in all seasons. Refer to Nebraska Forestry Connections Curriculum for different lesson plans applicable to all ages. Have your students complete one or multiple activities from the guide to earn your school points.
Craft your own reusable bag out of an old t-shirt! Use these instructions to learn how to make a reusable bag without using sewing.
10 points per completed lesson
Visit the Learning Lab website to get access to dozens for free learning tools that students can do while participating in remote learning. Lessons and activities cover all age groups and offer detailed instructions for teachers to use the materials. Here are some of our favorites: Sustainable Intelligence, Exploring Nature’s Patterns, Earth Waters Our Lives, and Urban Trees.
This carbon lesson blends science and math curriculum and is designed for high school students. The activity involves going outside, using angles and calculating the amount of carbon stored in one tree.
Environmental Education isn’t just for science! Help your students understand the importance of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, while creating some beautiful art pieces with recyclable materials. Displaying these pieces can also help students see the visual representation of what it would mean for all that material to go to the landfill instead. Here is a list of Classroom Activities Using Recycled Materials to get you started!
Polar Bear Lesson
Explore how polar bears are being affected by the warming climate in this detailed lesson. Multiple activities are available to enhance this learning experience and get students thinking about how they could help save the polar bear habitat. View this document to access more information and activities.
Use natural materials found outside to make art! Discuss all the possible materials that can be found around your school then have your students collect their own materials that they discovered. Draw, paint, or make a creation that pertains to nature, makes a pattern, or feeds your students creativity. Refer to this website for inspiration for projects and ideas to use in the classroom.
Air Pollution Activity
Visualize how polluted our air can get from activities we do everyday. This 20 minute activity requires a few materials but is a lesson that is sure to stick out to students.
Map It Out
Have students create a map of the school and mark where all the trash bins are and all the recycling bins are. How many are there? Are they next to each other? What could be the solution? Refer to this slide deck for further instructions on how to conduct this activity. If new/more recycling bins are needed they can be ordered HERE.
Take a break from the classroom and find a tree by your school or in your neighborhood and spend some time observing it from various perspectives. After spending time with the tree, write words or a poem about it. Visit this website for more detailed directions about this activity.
Tree Map Activity
Trees are important. Trees help us live. But why are they important and how do they help us live? Have students explore these questions and also map all the trees around the school. How many are there? How do trees help our planet? Make note of the different types of trees and research what each one might be and the different needs for each species. Refer to this website for a lesson plan with explanations of 5 major benefits of trees.
Learn what other students do to save energy by using this group activity bingo card that requires students to get up and move and discover new energy saving techniques.
10 points per film
Have students create a short music video, play, commercial, movie, etc. that explains a topic dealing with sustainability. This could be a composting help video to show the school at the beginning of the school year, facts about saving energy, a description of different items that can be recycled, etc.. To receive points the videos must be sent to Brittney Albin and at least one of the videos must be shown at an assembly or during school announcements.
*40 point maximum earned per school
15 points for each investigation
Have students explore different aspects of Energy, Environmental Quality, the School Site, Waste and Recycling, and Water and brainstorm ways to improve each one. Investigation guides for each activity can be found on the website. A number of free lesson plans are offered on the site and the completion of all 5 investigations earns your school a GreenSchools status!
Track your school
Renewable Energy Tour
Partner: Lincoln Electric System
Contact Tiffany Mousel at email@example.com to find out more information about joining LES for a renewable energy facility tour (Terry Bundy Generating Station, wind turbines and solar facility). This activity is for middle and high school students only. Please request this tour opportunity well in advance due to schedule and space limitations.
Arbor Day Farm Youth Tours
Arbor Day Farm can provide your class with a fun and educational experience. A wide variety of tours and activities can be tailored to fit your schedule, age groups, and interests. All field trips at Arbor Day Farm are compliant with the Nebraska State Science Education Standards for K–12 students, creating an enriching experience with plenty of fun. Visit the Arbor Day Farm website for more information.
Lower Platte South Natural Resource District
The Lower Platte South NRD offers four field trip options that allow students to apply classroom learning to nature. They provide field trips to Eastern Saline Wetlands, Nebraska Prairies, Water Quality Testing, and Platte River State Park. Each field trip is designed to fit educational curriculum while allowing students to experience first-hand what they have been learning about in the classroom. To learn more email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pioneers Park Nature Center
There are several activities available at Pioneers Park Nature Center for green teams and classrooms to take advantage of. These activities include a garden composting demonstration, educational exhibits that highlight the importance of biodiversity, and hikes through natural prairies/woodlands/wetlands that show the success of environmental preservation efforts. There are also several volunteer opportunities in the gardens at the Nature Center for green teams to get involved with. To learn more visit the Nature Center website.
Resource: Target Field Trip Grants
If you need help with funding for a school field trip check out the Target field trip grants!! It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target has launched the Target field trip grants program. Target has made it possible for millions of students to go on a field trip across the country. As part of the program, Target stores award field trip grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued at $700. Grant applications are accepted between noon CT Aug. 1 and 11:59 p.m. CT Oct. 1. Check out the website to apply and for more information HERE.