Home » Lexington’s Morton Middle School wins USDA Green Ribbon School Award

Lexington’s Morton Middle School wins USDA Green Ribbon School Award

For environmental projects

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 4, 2017) — Morton Middle School in Lexington is one of 64 schools, districts and postsecondary institutions nationwide recognized for the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Award. Morton was the only Kentucky school honored.

Schools were honored for:

  • Reducing environmental impact and costs
  • Improving the health and wellness of the school, students and staff
  • Providing environmental education that incorporates areas such as STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways

Morton’s recycling program raises money for bird seed for feeders, which are designed and built by students in the technology education classroom and placed on campus. Also, plastic lids are turned into furniture for the outdoor classroom.

Morton monitors energy costs by conducting monthly energy audits working with the NEED Project and E=USE. The school has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent and energy use by 49 percent during the past six years. Money from energy savings is put into a fund for new sustainability projects. Morton also was the first middle school in Fayette County to initiate a no-idling campaign and it does not use water for outside irrigation.

Each year, the school participates in the spring World Fit Campaign, where all students and staff walk regularly. Morton offers clubs that teach self-help skills, communication, and self-confidence, including peer mentoring. The school employs a nurse and a behavioral therapist, and implements an asthma management plan, as well as an indoor air quality program.

The school plants two raised garden beds with tomatoes, strawberries, catnip and mint. Students use the plants to feed school pets and also are able to take food home. Chickens are raised in classrooms, then transferred to a teacher’s chicken coop, where students are encouraged to continue to care for the birds and can take eggs home to eat.

Each content area teacher offers opportunities to write and conduct hands-on experiments on such topics as deforestation, pollution, water quality, energy and botany. Language arts classes commonly move outdoors to read and hold class discussions.

The school has partnered with Trout Unlimited and Food Chain to learn about the nitrogen cycle, life sciences and aquaponics. Students, who have cultivated three trout farms, raise the fish from eggs to fingerlings, then release them in a cold water stream at Red River Gorge.

Morton teams with Bluegrass Greensource to teach students about water quality, air quality, recycling and energy efficiency, participates in the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools nine goal program and has partnered with a local elementary school to mentor green schools efforts.

Students in 7th and 8th grade learn how to write grants, which have funded the school’s water bottle refilling station, power strips and a butterfly garden.