Kentucky students and teachers were recognized April 28 for their accomplishments at the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools (KGHS) program and the Kentucky National Energy Education Development (KY NEED) Project’s ninth annual Youth Summit and Awards Luncheon in Frankfort. KGHS is a program of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC).
The event recognized students and their outstanding projects in promoting school and community health and environmental sustainability. Examples of student projects included: restoring a nature center; removing invasive species and creating wildlife habitat on the Shelby County High School campus; elementary students designing and building a solar-powered pump for watering their greenhouse at Virginia Chance School; and West Hardin Middle School students building a solar heater out of repurposed aluminum cans. In the morning, students showcased their energy, health and sustainability school projects to their peers, teachers and leaders in education, industry and environmental fields.
Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner was the event’s featured speaker. He highlighted the skills developed in green schools programs – including science, technology, and engineering and math (STEM) skills – with the needs of Kentucky’s workforce.
“Here in Kentucky and across the globe, jobs in STEM fields, on average, pay more than almost any other jobs,” said Sec. Heiner. “Today in Kentucky we have 140,000 jobs that are not filled because our adults don’t have the science, technology, engineering and math skills that our employers need. I want to encourage all of you – boys and girls, young ladies and young men – to consider continuing to build your STEM skills. What I have seen this morning is that you find school to be meaningful and exciting, while preparing you for the real-world challenges that we face every day in the workplace.”
Frankfort local and retired Kentucky State University pianist Patricia Griffith played for the students while they ate, adding a celebratory air to the convention center.
More than 200 students and teachers participated and were recognized for their efforts. Vivian Bowles of Kit Carson Elementary School in Madison County was recognized as the KGHS Teacher of the Year. Additional KY NEED schools were also honored for their projects.
“Mrs. Bowles’ ability to engage students in hands-on, project-based learning helps her students succeed in every way,” said KEEC Executive Director Elizabeth Schmitz. “Today’s awards highlight Mrs. Bowles’ leadership in environmental education at the school and state level.”
The following eight KGHS schools attended:
· Bullitt Central High School in Bullitt County
· Kentucky Country Day School in Jefferson County
· Sayre School in Fayette County
· Shelby County High School in Shelby County
· The Virginia Chance School in Jefferson County
· West Carter Middle School in Carter County
· West Hardin Middle School in Hardin County
· Zoneton Middle School in Bullitt County
In addition, Kit Carson Elementary in Madison County, Morton Middle School in Fayette County and
Pikeville High School in Pike County also received awards but were not able to attend the event.