Students learn about wetlands for Green Apple Day of Service (USGBC Central Pennsylvania)

Published on: 
Friday, September 29, 2017
Heidi Kunka

Every day on my commute, I pass my local school district, Susquenita, and then the mighty Susquehanna River. The Susquehanna is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the nation’s largest estuary—and the Susquenita school district has wetlands on its property that are directly connected to the river and the bay. This connection gave me the idea for a Green Apple Day of Service project for USGBC Central Pennsylvania.

As an environmental scientist, my husband Greg performs wetland delineations, so I decided to recruit him to lead a mock wetland delineation for students at our local school district. I also found a biology teacher at the middle school who was interested in helping me coordinate this activity for a Green Apple event.

On September 21, Greg, along with his coworker Melissa, joined me for the event at Susquenita School District. Fifteen students participated from middle and high school. We described to the students the paths of our careers in the environmental industry. Since career pathways are part of pillar three in the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program, it was important to have that preliminary discussion.

USGBC Central Pennsylvania wetlands Green Apple project

Next, Greg and Melissa talked about why wetlands are important and how to identify them. Wetlands are not only a habitat for animals, but also a natural filtration system for water before it enters our rivers. They also help to control floods. Students learned the criteria for defining a wetland: 1) water, or signs of water; 2) hydrophytic vegetation (plants that love water), and 3) hydric soils (they show signs of being wet and without oxygen, or anoxic environments).

Armed with this knowledge, as well as site-specific plant identification guides created by Greg, the students went out onto their school property to observe a wetland firsthand. Greg and Melissa showed the students how to use an auger to dig down into the soil and observe its profile for signs of hydric soils (reddish colors, similar to rust, occur where oxygen is not present). They also helped the students identify the wetland plants and place delineation flags in the ground to identify the boundaries of the wetland.

USGBC Central Pennsylvania wetlands Green Apple project

To close out our wetland delineation, I reminded students that everything is connected in this great “circle of life”—that this wetland on their school property connects to the Susquehanna River, which is in turn part of the largest estuary in the United States. It is my hope that the students will remember our activity and how important wetlands are, motivating them to be caretakers of this planet.

Green Apple events will be occurring at K–12 schools in Central Pennsylvania through April 2018. If your company, organization or school is interested in organizing a Green Apple Day of Service event, please email Heidi Kunka or call 202.706.0836, and we’d be glad to assist.

Learn more about Green Apple projects

Find the funds to complete your Green Apple Day of Service project

Published on: 
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Kristen Keim

Green Apple Day of Service is off and running in states and countries around the globe. Many project ideas can be implemented with volunteer service and donated materials; others require a financial investment. If you need funding for your project, here are some opportunities and resources to help.

Our Green Apple Project Checklist covers each step of making your project happen, from getting it off the ground and enlisting volunteers to executing the event. ”Part Two: Putting the Pieces Together” provides tips for creating a budget and raising funds.

Because these service projects unite parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations to transform our schools into healthy and sustainable learning environments, they are often attractive to prospective funders, such as companies, foundations or individual donors.

For first-time fundraisers, it’s good to familiarize yourself with your options. You’ll want to know the difference between sponsorship and donations, according to the IRS:

  • In a sponsorship, the business or persons giving money receives a benefit from the donation. That money will only be tax-deductible if the donation given exceeds the market value of the benefit the sponsor is given.
  • A donation is given without any benefit for the donor and is tax-deductible. Grants are a great way to receive funding for your projects.

Organizations willing to fund projects require an application and have deadlines for applying. Here’s a few we think are tailor-made for funding Green Apple Day of Service projects. Read closely to ensure you meet grant requirements and deadlines:

  • Miron, a construction company, is offering $1,000 to the winner of its “Be Green in ‘17” contest. To apply, create a one-minute video explaining how your school would use the money to go green and upload it to your school's Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram page. The contest runs through October 20, with the winner announced on November 3. Visit Miron's video contest page for details.
  • The Nature Conservancy is donating 60 individual $2,000 grants to schools where students are creating solutions to environmental challenges in their community. Check out The Nature Conservancy's info page for more information. The deadline to apply is November 3, and winners will be announced November 30.
  • Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awards grants from $2,000 to $100,000 to projects that upgrade their school’s technology, renovate the school and improve safety or provide tools for STEM programs. The applications close September 29. Visit the Lowe's grant page to learn more.
  • Home Depot grants up to $5,000 to schools looking to repair, refurbish or modify the school building or weatherize or improve its energy efficiency. As a school, you would fill out the "government" application on Home Depot’s grant information page.
  • Staples gives grants of up to $25,000. Through its 2 Million and Change program, Staples creates a chance for local employees to nominate projects for a grant. Visit 2 Million and Change for more information.
  • Walmart provides $250 to $2,500 through its foundation. To qualify, you just need to submit an application. The application deadline for this year is December 31. Visit the Walmart Foundations grant page to apply.

Visit the Green Apple project guide

Conserving water and energy with Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Monday, September 25, 2017
Kristen Keim

Did you know that a significant amount of a school's budget is dedicated to energy and water costs? Behind salaries, energy is the biggest expense for schools. Additionally, 25 percent of the energy a typical school uses is wasted, according to the EPA. Through their Green Apple Day of Service project in 2016, students at Boston Arts Academy learned about water and energy conservation. Additionally, the school wanted to explore the types of sustainable features they might include in their new building, which was in the design phase.

Boston Arts Academy Green Apple Day of Service project

The Boston Arts Academy audited their school’s water and energy usage with the help of the architects for the new building, HMFH Architects. A group of environmental science students calculated their school’s water usage from everyday activities, such as flushing the toilet or washing their hands. Then, they conducted an energy audit to calculate the amount of energy wasted throughout the school, specifically when the appliances were off, and compared different light sources’ efficiency.

Boston Arts Academy Green Apple Day of Service project

After gathering the data, the students decided to convert the school's energy usage into pounds of coal. They calculated that it takes 1,300 pounds of coal to power the lights in one classroom for 180 days. The students were surprised to discover how much water and energy is wasted every year in the school, and made commitments to be more thoughtful in their water and electricity usage.

The students’ eagerness to create change within their school was carried over into the design for the school’s new building. Along with HMFH Architects, Boston Arts Academy is working to make their new building as energy- and water-efficient as possible.

Want to find out if your school could improve its water and energy usage? Check out our specific tips and resources for projects to Reduce Water Use and Reduce Energy Use.

Create a Green Apple project

How to fund your Green Apple Day of Service project with

Published on: 
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Kristen Keim

If you have a Green Apple Day of Service project that requires funding, consider receiving donations through If you register your Green Apple Day of Service project and link your donation page to your project, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC will match donations you raise, up to $200.

What is is a crowdfunding platform that is free for public and charter school educators to help raise funds for classroom supplies and projects. Educators raise money through the website for supplies or equipment listed in’s extensive catalog. Once the fundraising is complete, will order and ship supplies directly to the school.

For more information, go to For directions on setting up an account, visit's help page.

How do I get mini-grant funding?

Receiving matching mini-grants from the Center for Green Schools for your Green Apple Day of Service Project only requires a few steps.

  1. Register your Green Apple project through Click “Log in” to make an account or log in to an existing account, and you’ll see a place to “Add a project.” Make sure your project adheres to on one of the three pillars of a green school: improving environmental impact, health and wellness or increasing environmental and sustainability literacy.
  2. Decide what materials or resources your project requires. Have an educator on your team sign up on and request those materials. When the project is approved on that site, you’ll receive a six-digit project ID.
  3. Link your page to your Green Apple registered project by copying the six-digit project ID from into your project in the field within project registration. You can make changes to your Green Apple project any point, while registering or after registration has been completed.
  4. Raise the money. Remember, if your project is registered at and your page is linked to your project, the Center for Green Schools will match what you raise from your friends and family, up to $200, while the funding lasts.

Register a Green Apple project

Register now to get funding for your Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Anisa Heming

Registration is open for Green Apple Day of Service, and now is the time to commit to engaging in a day of action to support sustainability at your local school, your kid’s school or a school you care about.

This year, when you link your registered project on to a donation page on, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC will chip in with matching funds to help meet your project’s goals.

Green Apple Day of Service

We’ve introduced lots of new things for the Day of Service. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting projects from previous years to give you some inspiration. We have plenty to choose from; over the past five years, we’ve seen thousands of projects in 73 countries, impacting the lives of over 7 million students.

Wondering what counts as a Green Apple Day of Service project? Check out these project ideas, look over our FAQ section for answers to commonly asked questions, and explore our resources page for promotional and planning tools.

Sign in to register your project

What's new with Green Apple Day of Service?

Published on: 
Monday, June 26, 2017
Anisa Heming

Green Apple Day of Service is a unique moment to join schools across the world in celebrating the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of leaders in sustainability.

Over the past five years, we’ve seen participation from almost one million volunteers in 73 countries, and our actions have impacted the learning environments of over seven million students. This year, we’ve taken a close look at what’s worked and what hasn’t over our short history, and we’re rolling out some exciting new features for this year:

  1. The most notable change is that, starting this year, you’ll register your project at the beginning of the school year and name your own date. The projects themselves can happen at any time from August 2017 through May 2018. However, the projects can only receive official support with funding, volunteers and other resources if they sign up on the website during September and October. We encourage schools to think about the right time for a day of action for them, and we’ll communicate with project leaders based on the chosen date.
  2. We have a new website that's been redesigned to provide with more of what you need to create a successful project. Resources and information are available now at, and project registration will open in September. Sign up on to receive updates leading up to the official registration period (check off "Green Apple Day of Service" on your subscription options).
  3. The new focus is on incentivizing school staff and teachers to lead action at their schools. They know what’s most needed at their schools, and they’re the ones who will keep sustainability values strong after the day of action is over. We’re making it worthwhile for them to join in: matching funds are available for supplies through our corporate partners on, volunteer assistance is available through our community teams around the country, and fun downloads and planning resources are given to those who sign up. You'll find out more about all of these offerings when you register a project.

Green Apple Day of Service projects create measurable change on one or more of the three pillars of a green school: environmental impact, health and wellness and environmental and sustainability literacy. Each project directly and positively affects the students at a particular school.

Is your school’s Earth Day celebration a Green Apple Day of Service? It can be, if it includes service activities that impact sustainability at the school. Is the annual school service day a Green Apple Day of Service? It might be, if it focuses the service activities on sustainability. The Day of Service is unique because it brings together school service and sustainability on one focused day of action.

Visit our website to learn more