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April 22, 2009


DOUG TOBIN, DEP (850) 245-2112
TOM BUTLER, DOE (850)245-0413

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist today joined Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole, Florida Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith and nearly 500 students at the Capitol to launch the Governor's Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards. The awards program, announced on Earth Day, recognizes the efforts of students, teachers, classrooms, schools and school districts in creating healthy, efficient and productive places for learning. Following the announcement, Governor Crist presented Serve to Preserve Scout Award insignias to Florida Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for their environmental achievements.

"I am a firm believer that the future of Florida is dependent upon two of our greatest resources - our environment and our children," said Governor Crist. "Protecting the environment, increasing student learning, saving our schools money by improving energy efficiencies - all at the same time - is a smart decision from every direction."

The Governor's Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards will be presented later this year to each of the five recipient groups: students, classrooms, teachers, schools and school districts. Applications will be accepted through May 2009 and will be reviewed during the summer. To complete a nomination application, click here.

Eligible projects will be categorized in four themes:

  1. Green learning environments including indoor and outdoor facilities.
  2. Exemplary green curriculum or teacher professional development programs.
  3. Green service learning projects.
  4. Green policies or partnerships.

The Governor's Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards is a partnership between DEP, DOE, the Governor's Energy Office, the Collins Center's Sustainable Florida Program, the Florida Education Foundation, the Governor's Volunteer Florida Foundation and the Florida Association of School Administrators.

"Each Earth Day people from around the world come together to pledge to protect the environment, and Florida's students and teachers are leading the effort with the help of this award," said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. "Students and teachers are making their schools greener places to learn while also generating a savings for their school districts."

In celebration of Earth Day, DEP also delivered the "Florida Green School Guide," a Newspaper in Education publication to more than 7,000 Northwest Florida teachers and middle school students in Leon, Wakulla, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Taylor, Jackson, Gulf and Madison counties. The guide, a first of its kind in the state, provides a variety of educational activities for students, teachers and school administrators that will enable Florida's classrooms to go green.

Serve to Preserve Scout Award

During the Earth Day celebration, Governor Crist presented Serve to Preserve Scout Award insignias to Florida Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for their environmental achievements. Age-specific requirements for the Serve to Preserve Scout Award were developed in partnership with leaders from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in Florida. Requirements for the award include:

Cub Scouts (ages 7 - 10) and Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts (kindergarten - 3rd grade)

  • Have a community clean-up day where your group picks up trash in a park, on school grounds, or another area that needs to be cared for.
  • Draw pictures or write a letter to Governor Charlie Crist showing ways young people can Serve to Preserve Florida's natural environment.

Boy Scouts (ages 10 - 18) and Juniors, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts (grades 3 - 12)

  • Organize a Serve to Preserve day in your community or school. Invite speakers from your community to speak to your classmates or group about ways to reduce pollution, conserve energy and help combat climate change.
  • Learn about biofuels and how they are made, and list some of the alternative energy projects taking place in our state.

Since announcing the Serve to Preserve Scout Award in February 2008, more than 700 Florida Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts throughout the Sunshine State have earned the award. For more information on the Serve to Preserve Scout Award, visit

Earth Day

The theme for this year's Earth Day at the Capitol is Green Schools: Creating Healthy, Efficient, and Productive Learning Environments. Celebrated worldwide, Earth Day encourages people of all ages and from around the world to protect and preserve the planet's natural resources. Today's celebration at the Capitol recognizes the important role education and science can play in environmental protection.

"Earth Day is a great opportunity to engage students to think about their roles and responsibilities in a globally changing environment," said DOE Commissioner Eric Smith. "Florida's diverse backdrop allows students in all corners of the state to witness the delicate balance between nature and development, giving them the tools to maintain and improve that relationship."

The first official Earth Day was held in 1970, with the mission of uniting the world toward a common cause of environmental protection and conservation. The United Nations observed the first global Earth Day with the annual ringing of the Peace Bell on March 21, 1971. Since that time, Florida has become an environmental leader - conserving more than 2.4 million acres of land, investing more than $380 million for clean drinking water and working with the federal government to restore America's Everglades.

Highlights of Governor Crist's Environmental Leadership

Governor Crist has made increased energy efficiencies, reduced greenhouse gases and conservation priorities in his administration. In 2008-09, the tightest budget year in Florida history, $50 million has been dedicated for Everglades restoration to continue the state's partnership with the federal government to restore America's River of Grass. In addition, Governor Crist has signed legislation expanding for another decade Florida Forever, Florida's land conservation program and the largest conservation effort in the nation. Through Florida Forever and its predecessor, Preservation 2000, Florida has invested $5 billion to place more than two million acres throughout the state in public ownership, conserving environmentally sensitive land, restoring water resources and preserving important cultural and historical sites.

In 2007, Governor Crist signed legislation that expands the restoration of the famed River of Grass to include Lake Okeechobee and the farthest northern reaches of the Everglades ecosystem, highlighting the connectivity of the entire ecosystem from the Kissimmee headwaters to the Florida Keys. This legislation requires the development of technical plans, schedules and provides dedicated funding to improve and protect the Northern Everglades, including Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee coastal estuaries. Also in 2007, the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund was extended for 10 years through 2020 and expands its purpose, underscoring Florida's commitment to Everglades restoration.

In June 2008, Governor Crist signed into law Energy and Economic Development legislation that builds upon the foundation for Florida's energy future to diversify the state's energy sources, spur economic growth and promote energy conservation and efficiency. This comprehensive legislative package authorizes the development of a cap-and-trade regulatory program, which gives businesses flexibility in meeting greenhouse gas reduction standards. It creates a renewable fuel standard for motor vehicles and a renewable portfolio standard for utilities; and provides grants and incentives to promote and enhance the use of alternative and renewable energy technologies. In addition, the legislation creates a new consortium of state universities to bolster and share energy research and discoveries.

For more information on Earth Day activities and the new Governor's Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards, visit