Will Griffin, DoDEA Europe Public Affairs
Kaiserslautern | May 2, 2016
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –April 29, 2016 –The Department of Defense Education Activity Europe's Kaiserslautern Elementary School was recognized for completing all requirements to earn the U.S. Army's Green Boot certification, a sustainability program that incorporates the identification and implementation of practices to reduce an organization's ecological footprint through conservation, recycling and waste prevention efforts.
Principal Penelope Miller-Smith accepted the award from U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz commander, Army Col. Shawn Wells. This was the first time Wells had presented the Green Boot certification, usually earned by military units, to a DoDEA school.
"This was a first for me, and I'm extremely proud of what the students here accomplished to earn the Green Boot certification," said Wells.
The road to certification began last year with an examination of how the school used its resources and how it could be more effective in conserving those resources. Students and faculty looked at every facet of school operations to determine where they could make changes. From the type and amount of lighting in school areas, to classroom-level sorting of recyclables to procedures in the cafeteria, nothing was off the table in their quest to reduce the school's environmental footprint.
Miller-Smith recognized the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for its willingness to join in making food service operations at the school more "green".
"AAFES was a phenomenal partner throughout this process," said Miller-Smith. "Incorporating washable lunch trays and silverware make a big difference and in the fall, we will begin sorting bio-waste and other recyclable trash at lunch."
"In addition, we looked at how students were getting to school and talked to them about making the most use of buses and carpooling," said Miller-Smith.
Some might think that a DoDEA school on an Air Force base getting an Army award is a little out of the ordinary. It did require some extra steps in the process, according to Miller-Smith.
"We worked through the Kaiserslautern District Superintendent's Office to connect with the Rheinland-Pfalz Garrison to take advantage of this opportunity and we received great support from Col. Wells and Brig. Gen. Thomas, the 86th Air Wing Commander at Ramstein," said Miller-Smith.
She added, "This recognition was not about any particular service. Our Air Force and Army community partners both have strong programs that contribute to environmental responsibility and sustainability. This was about military-connected students getting recognition from the military for their efforts."
The certification process was about more than just changing procedures. It was about changing how students think about their personal impact on the environment.
Miller-Smith emphasized, "One of the keys was to help students make the connection between how they recycle at home, at school, and to help them make that transition to recycling in the community. When they move, they continue to do it because it becomes part of who they are –and it's the right thing to do."