UWSP childcare center honored as ‘Green Ribbon’ school

Metro Wire Staff

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center (UCLCC) has been recognized among the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

The center, nominated by the Wisconsin Department of Public instruction, is one of three early learning centers across the country to earn the recognition. The center was chosen for its innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.

“The University Child Learning and Care Center is honored to receive recognition for our work in environmental education and sustainability practices,” said Alicia Utke-Becher, a preschool teacher at the center. “Our mission to develop better practices has been a long-term effort. Through continual education of teachers, a relationship with Wisconsin’s Green and Healthy Schools, and our university and community partnerships, we have developed a school culture of environmental awareness of which we can all be proud.”

Among the UCLCC’s many sustainability practices:

  • Use of a natural playscape playground using environmentally friendly and recycled materials, an eco-friendly artificial turf that eliminates watering, and adding a tree for cleaner air and shade
  • Using the outdoor areas for a play-based approach for environmental STEM exploration
  • Use of natural light, energy-efficient light bulbs and designating students who turn off lights when not in use
  • Off-site visits to Schmeeckle Reserve, local farms, gardens to teach environmental citizenship
  • Teaching children composting of waste through the center’s two vermicomposting units (using worms) and using it in the center’s garden as well as compost from local organic farms
  • Using fresh produce from the center’s garden as healthy snacks
  • Earning the highest designation as a Green and Healthy School Wisconsin

“At UW-Stevens Point, our commitment to sustainability begins at the earliest ages at the Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center and continues across our campuses, from our curriculum to our residence halls and grounds,” said Chancellor Thomas Gibson. “We are delighted to recognize our center and its efforts to build Earth-friendly activities into young lives.”

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 20 states. The selectees include 24 public schools, five charter schools, one magnet school, and three nonpublic schools. Over half of the 2021 honorees are in communities where over 40 percent of the student body are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

This is the second Green Ribbon award UW-Stevens Point has received. In 2017, the university won the Postsecondary Sustainability Award.

The list of all selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities, as well as their nomination packages, can be found here.

To learn more about the UCLCC, go to the center’s website.

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