Missouri Green Schools helps schools set, achieve, and recognize environmental sustainability, health and learning goals.

MGS Honorees


Missouri Green Schools Honors Six Missouri Schools in their Initial Awards Round

Oct. 5, 2021 – Missouri Green Schools (MGS), a support and recognition program for Missouri schools co-managed by the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter and the Missouri Environmental Education Association, just completed its inaugural year as a state level program and selected its first round of honorees. Six Missouri schools have been awarded Sprout Level recognition for their commitment to improving health and wellness of students and staff, lowering their environmental impact, and providing place-based education. Place-based education grounds students in local environmental and community systems, facilitates real-world problem solving, and helps students see the relevance of educational concepts to their lived experiences. Schools that embark on the MGS journey are taking steps to make an impactful difference in the lives of their students, staff, and surrounding communities.


The following schools achieved Sprout Level by involving school administration, beginning to benchmark and track improvement, and setting goals towards further advancement of green and healthy practices:

Central High School, Springfield Public School District, Springfield, MO

Central Primary School, Ferguson-Florissant School District, Ferguson, MO

Forsyth School, Independent, St. Louis, MO

Hixson Middle School, Webster Groves School District, Webster Groves, MO

Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, St. Louis Public School District, St. Louis, MO

St. Francis of Assisi School, Independent, St. Louis, MO

By achieving Sprout Level, these schools are setting the stage for continued improvements to their campuses, curriculum, and culture. 


Why did the 2021 MGS Sprouts commit to this journey?

“Central High School committed to this journey with Missouri Green Schools to make the school the best place it can be for its students, staff, and community.” Claire Bodnar, Student & President of Project Green Schools Club

“Central Primary School is rich in the history of education, since our school has been educating young people ever since 1880.  It is our dream to commit to a journey of goodness and greenness by partnering with Missouri Green Schools to honor our past history of Ferguson community and education with responsible consumption, planning, and action.” Ryan Young, Physical Health Educator

“At Forsyth School, we strive to be responsible stewards of the environment; sustainability is an important part of our culture. Future generations depend on the choices that we make right now, and we hope our students will see how their positive actions help all people and our planet.” Susan Zareh, Grade 6 Math Teacher and Sustainability Specialist

“Hixson Middle School had many changes to our facility recently, which has opened up the opportunity to enrich our students’ learning opportunities. One such addition is the creation of a new class centered around sustainability.  It has been an important topic to me, and I was excited to get to lead our students forward toward developing a “greener” building and shaping their life choices and decisions.  The Missouri Green Schools initiative was a natural fit into the new curriculum and as I started talking with those around me, the excitement was contagious.  It made so much sense to begin this journey with our building at this time and I am so pleased that we were selected into the program.” Eric Hayes, Teacher

“Patrick Henry committed to this journey because we care deeply about the health, well-being, and longevity of our school and neighborhood community. We believe becoming a Missouri Green School will challenge us to reach our goals and complete our green initiatives, providing the best environment for our students to thrive.” Deborah Rogers, Ed.D., Principal

“The Missouri Green Schools is the next step at St Francis of Assisi in our work toward improving our sustainability and impact footprint.  I look forward to seeing how our students embrace this next step”. Mike Herries, STREAM Coordinator

Want to Get Your School Involved?

Seeking Pilot Schools for the 2022-2023 School Year

Missouri Green Schools is a free tracking and recognition program designed to help PreK-12 schools in Missouri:

  • improve the health and wellness of students and staff,
  • reduce environmental impact, and
  • incorporate environmental and sustainability education.

Schools can see stronger educational outcomes and reduced costs as a result of big and small changes that also help the environment. These changes can happen throughout the school building and grounds, educational programming, and culture.

Schools with 60% or more free and reduced priced lunch programs have the opportunity for additional support, including access to one-on-one assistance in setting goals and tracking progress as well as financial support for staff professional development and through small grant opportunities.

Are you interested in becoming a Missouri Green School and venturing on the path towards state and national recognition for your efforts? Head on over to the Participate page to see how!

Seeking Applicants for the Federal Green Ribbon Award

In the state of Missouri, Missouri Green Schools (MGS) serves as the conduit for the U.S Department of Education Green Ribbon School (ED-GRS) Award. Both MGS and ED-GRS are aligned with and recognize schools for their achievements across all three “pillars” of a green school:

     1) reduced environmental impacts and costs;
     2) improved health and wellness of schools, students and staff;
     3) effective environmental and sustainability education.

In order to be considered please email mgs@meea.org

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools



Congratulations to the 2022 US Dept of Education Green Ribbon Schools Missouri honorees!

These winners exemplify what it means to be a green school, and we are proud they have achieved this distinction.

School District of University City--Whole School Health and Whole Community Health, Hand in Hand

Representatives from University City School District pose with EDGRS award plaque

  • Reducing Environmental ImpactsSDUC actively works to reduce environmental impact and costs through a variety of programs  and initiatives. The district plans to integrate benchmarking and tracking of energy use, water  conservation, and waste reduction into its efforts within the next two years, and expects to  involve students in its implementation. SDUC has constructed two schools that have achieved LEED Certification, Barbara C. Jordan Elementary School in 2011 and Pershing Elementary School in 2012. The district has eliminated the use of all plastic straws, and continues to work to eliminate other single use plastics.  
  • Improving Health & WellnessIn 2017 the school district was a part of national partnership with the Robert Wood  Johnson Foundation, America’s Promise Alliance, and Alive and Well Communities promoting healthy schools via the Whole School Whole Community Whole Child. SDUC has centered this process from a racial equity perspective. The school district puts a premium on integrating social and emotional health into everyday learning and school experiences and relationships. The district calls this SEEAL: Social, Emotional, Equitable and  Academic Learning. This program has achieved national recognition for successes in community engagement, increased joy and well-being, and reduced disciplinary events. This program has also led to the creation of Ubuntu circles to build healthy, authentic relationships between all members of the school community, and student representation in the school board. The district also promotes physical health via limits on idling, monitoring of CO2, and a health-oriented integrated pest management method.
  • Environmental and Sustainability EducationAll schools, PreK-12, have “Outdoor STEAM Labs”- Green Garden Spaces with a Garden Facilitator. These “STEAM Labs” offer multi-disciplinary learning experiences which are unique at each school site, including partnerships with the St. Louis Zoo and U.City In Bloom. The district has centered project-based/sensory learning across all ages, and deeply advocates for all students to participate in civic engagement through a district-wide STEAM Expo and partnerships with many local organizations.  

Principia School--UN Sustainable Development Goals as Tools for Schools

3 representatives from Principia School pose with EDGRS award plaque

  • Reducing Environmental Impacts–Principia’s strategic plan includes energy optimization to reach LEED standards. The school’s goal is to create an independent micro-grid through the use of solar panels and wind turbines.The plan also includes curriculum changes to ensure these choices are seen as cultural norms. Principia has purchased 100% Ameren Pure Power for eight years, substantially supporting  green energy infrastructure in Missouri. The new Simon Fieldhouse, opening Fall 2022, has been prepared for solar installation, and peak generation will represent 40% of energy usage for the school. Principia utilizes rain gardens for stormwater management, and has introduced native plants and removed invasives in rain gardens, as well as in restored native habitats on campus. In total, 2 ponds, a savannah, a permaculture orchard, and gardens total 48 acres of restored native plants throughout the campus, an initiative undertaken with student support. 
  • Improving Health & WellnessAir quality testing has shown that Principia’s indoor air quality is higher than the outdoor air quality via the use of MERV13 filters and ionization. For the last decade, Principia has prioritized and utilized Green Seal Certified cleaning products. School Physical Education classes are mandatory and teach holistic health, and at upper grade levels, alternative P.E. classes including Gardening and “Eco P.E.” are offered. Fresh vegetables grown in the school’s gardens are utilized in the school kitchen. The campus has a student  wellness facility for the boarding students called Campus House which is also available 24/7  for any student needing a quiet atmosphere or 1:1 care. Principia employs a full-time counseling team, which focuses on  academic, college and career, and social/emotional learning. In addition, there are several student-led affinity/advocacy groups to support people of color, the LGBTQ+  community, and those interested in mental health awareness. These affinity groups work hand-in-hand with the school’s DEI professional development and curriculum.
  • Environmental and Sustainability EducationLower, Middle and Upper Schools maintain an IDEA Lab that is STEM focused and staffed by full-time teachers. Curriculum is intentionally tied to the United  Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In Middle School, students work with St. Louis city planners to generate ideas to shift to more sustainable practices, study genetically modified organisms and even travel to Costa Rica and learn about agricultural  practices around bananas and coffee while also studying biodiversity. In the Upper School, Principia offers an elective sustainability class that uses the United  Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework of entry to what sustainability is and how we can each affect change towards the betterment of humanity and our planet. Principia also hosts the Impact Challenge, a project which engages multiple local schools, and uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a platform with which students can engage as change makers for good in our communities and the world.

Congratulations to the 2021 US Dept of Education Green Ribbon Schools Missouri honoree!

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Flance Early Learning Center--Infusing Health in All Aspects of the School

Flance serves quality education and care to a racially, culturally, developmentally, and socio-economically diverse population of children between ages six weeks and six years to ensure healthy physical, emotional, and social development. Flance was founded with a desire that all children have the best possible start in life, regardless of their families’ socioeconomic development, so we address healthy development in a comprehensive way. By providing students, families, staff, and community with resources and education, Flance encourages them to be environmentally and health-conscious to catalyze change within their communities.

  • Reducing Environmental Impacts–Flance was built with LEED certification in mind, and the building itself contributes to increased environmental literacy and wellness of people and the planet. It was designed to bring the outdoors in—daylighting is used in 90% of the building, every classroom has immediate access visually and physically to the outdoors, and classrooms are named for trees native to Missouri. 75% of our roof is comprised of reflective materials, and the HVAC system can be controlled remotely even when the building is unoccupied. We use Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track gas and electricity usage and we have reduced our total GHG Emissions Intensity by 37% over the past two years. Two-thirds of our grounds are comprised of water-efficient and regionally appropriate plants, and we have bioswales and raingarden plants to retain stormwater and minimize runoff. This school year, we have been more proactive in reducing our waste production. Flance received a donation of three compost bins located by our community garden to make use of food waste. We also received 30 recycling bins, 2 recycling carts, and numerous educational materials from St. Louis City Recycles to help us educate and practice good recycling habits. This inspired us to begin a recycling tracking system and become more cognizant about ways we can encourage and support sustainable practices. Our newly established Green Team, comprised of administrative, teaching, and custodial staff, is working to educate all staff about waste reduction and how to incorporate this topic into classroom curriculum and school culture.
  • Improving Health & Wellness–We encourage our families to make healthy life choices. Our chef prepares nourishing meals, including organic baby food, for our students incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Our deliberate programming includes ongoing nutrition education, gardening education, physical activities, outdoor playtime, and nutrition and health-based professional development at least twice a year for staff. As a result, Flance was named the only Gold Level Healthy Way to Grow Center in the United States by the American Heart Association in October 2020. Flance was recognized for providing healthy environments for children, families, staff, and communities. In partnership with Affinia Health Care, Flance houses an on-site health clinic to provide a wide range of health services for Flance families. As a designated EnVision Center by HUD, since May 2020 we’ve provided over 25 tons of free fresh produce valued at over $180,000 to Flance families and our 63106 community neighbors via a weekly Free Fresh Food Box program. The 63106-zip code is one of the poorest zip codes in Missouri and is a food desert with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. When safe to do so, we are eager to return to utilizing our school to provide support through cooking classes for families and providing meeting space in our community room for a variety of events that have included parenting classes, movie nights, resume workshops, and job trainings.
  • Environmental and Sustainability Education–Health and the environment are embedded in the curriculum, from math lessons that involve making a healthy snack to vocabulary acquisition reflective of the natural world and valuing stewardship. Community partnerships further enhance these efforts. For example, Flance partner Urban Harvest helps us with nutrition education with our on-site community garden. We incorporate Urban Harvest’s expertise in our curriculum for Pre-K classrooms, which includes planting, harvesting, gardening, and natural scavenger hunts. Children learn about fresh fruits and vegetables and the harvest supplements student and staff meals. When possible, we even share it with our families. In 2020, students harvested 200 pounds of produce. In August 2020, we started an after-school program that encouraged neighborhood children from ages 8 – 14 to explore and learn about our garden.

Congratulations to the 2020 US Dept of Education Green Ribbon Schools Missouri honorees!

These schools exemplify what it means to be a green school, and we are proud they have achieved this distinction.


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Parkway School District--Not One, but Two Sustainability Coordinators



  • Reducing Environmental Impacts–Parkway hired their first Sustainability Coordinator in 2010, setting the stage for the districtwide benchmarking and goal-setting that has led to the impressive decrease in energy use, water consumption, and waste of all sorts.
  • Improving Health & Wellness–From the Indoor Air Quality Task Force to the ropes course adventure learning opportunities to food pantries kept stocked at many of their schools, PSD works to improve the overall health of their students and staff in a variety of ways.
  • Environmental and Sustainability Education–In 2018, PSD brought in a second sustainability coordinator, this time focusing on the integration of sustainability into the curriculum. This school year, the Board of Education approved the inclusion of the Parkway Principles of Education for Sustainability into the elementary science curriculum, guaranteeing that students across this district will understand that they share the Earth with many others, learn how their actions make a difference, and develop their systems thinking skills.

Mary Institute Country Day School--Infusing Sustainability throughout the Curriculum, Buildings, and Landscape

Mary Institute


  • Reducing Environmental Impacts–Extensive improvements to the buildings that have earned the school an Energy Star Portfolio Manager score of 89 and adoption of landcare practices that include using a 10,000-gallon rainwater collection tank and 1,100 gallons-per-day greywater tank to irrigate the landscaping which now boasts 98% native plants.
  • Improving Health & Wellness–From providing small-batch, scratch-made meals are made daily and monitored by trained nutritionists, abundant opportunities before and after school for outdoor physical activity, providing natural light and CO2 sensors in buildings to create spaces that support student and staff wellness, MICDS supports students’ physical and mental well-being throughout each school day.
  • Environmental and Sustainability Education–Students at every level of this JK-12 school are exposed to sustainability as a primary value–from honeysuckle abatement to protect the school’s varied habitats to pursuing UN Sustainable Development Goals as part of foreign language instruction to plant-based research projects fusing computer science and biology.

Sunrise School--Leveraging Partnerships to Generate Momentum

Sunrise School

  • Reducing Environmental Impacts–Sunrise works hard to reduce waste at the school and develops creative partnerships to do so, from engaging parents in plastic trash reduction to partnering with local farmers to keep food waste out of the landfill.
  • Improving Health & Wellness–The school engages local farmers, University Extension, and the Jefferson County Health Department to provide ongoing health and nutrition education for multiple grade levels and hosts an annual community health fair to connect students, parents, and community members with healthy lifestyle resources and provide free health screenings.
  • Environmental and Sustainability Education–Annual professional development for teachers is provided to continually expand the use of their 22-acre outdoor classroom as a teaching tool. Again, they engage a variety of partners, from a local beekeepers association to the Missouri Department of Conservation, to help provide relevant and effective environmental education for students.

Apply to Become a 2023 Green Ribbon School Honoree

Contact mgs@meea.org to find out more about how you can apply. Click here for more information and access to the application.

MGS Case Studies

Nurturing the Young as a Catalyst for Healthy Communities – Flance Early Learning Center

Creative Collaboration – Sunrise School

Bench Marking and Goal Setting – Parkway School District

Student Leadership in Sustainability Education – Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School