On the ground, the efforts of some Northern Virginia schools to make their communities more green can seem small.
But organizers of Saturday's first-ever Northern Virginia Green School Expo hope they can show elected officials, educators, parents and community members all their efforts are part of a larger movement to reduce waste, conserve energy and connect students to their environments.
"[We] wanted to give teachers, students and school volunteers an opportunity to share the good work they are doing and to learn from others in the region," Nova Outside cofounder Elaine Tholen said.
The event, organized by NoVA Outside, an alliance of environmental educators, will bring together officials and educators from Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria County school systems, along with local and state leaders.
Last year, the group organized its first Leadership Summit on Children in Nature, which brought together educators and leaders to brainstorm ways to encourage environmental education and action and help it grow.
The summit will return for its second year Saturday at George Mason University, with the U.S. Department of Education’s Andrea Falken as the keynote speaker, highlighting the department’s Green Ribbon Schools program and leading officials in discussions about the future environmental education in public schools.
This year, the summit will be followed by a Green Expo featuring 33 businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and schools that are currently engaged in green projects, from geothermal wells at James K. Polk Elementary School, to native gardens at Marshall High School, to schoolwide composting programs and creating outdoor classrooms.
"All of the programs link to the Virginia Standards of Learning, but provide a venue for children to learn hands-on and outdoors," Tholen said in a statement.
For a full list of schools and organizations participating, click on the PDF at the top of this article.
The Children in Nature Leadership Summit will run from 8:30-10 a.m. The Green Schools Expo will run from 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Both will be held at GMU Fairfax Campus Student Union II Ballroom (The Hub II), 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. Admission at the door is $10, but kids are free.