Interlochen's Green Team with representatives of the Michigan Department of Education.
Arts Academy students at work in one of Interlochen's hoophouses.
On May 22, 2019 representatives from the Michigan Department of Education presented the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award to the Interlochen Arts Academy on the campus of Interlochen Center for the Arts. The award will be celebrated again in the fall when representatives of Interlochen Arts Academy will travel to Washington, D.C. to be officially recognized at a series of events, culminating in an event at the White House.
The aim of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program is to inspire schools, districts, and Institutions of Higher Education to strive for 21st century excellence by highlighting promising practices and resources that all can employ. The award recognizes schools, districts, and Institutions of Higher Education that reduce environmental impact and cost, improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff, and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
Combined progress in all three of these areas, known as Pillars, serves as the basis for recognition. The U.S. Department of Education found that Interlochen Arts Academy met and surpassed all qualifications.
“We had to complete an extensive application process and an intensive review that delved deeply into the three Pillars,” said Emily Umbarger, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy, and also the Sustainability Coordinator and Instructor of Agricultural Sciences. “We are the only school in the state of Michigan to receive this award this year. Once this award is earned, the institution is recognized as a lifetime recipient.”
“There were several distinguishing factors the Green Ribbons Schools considered, including our compost building that will allow our entire campus to move to a compost-first model as well as a new dishwashing room in Stone Cafeteria that has reduced our water consumption by 600,000 gallons of water each year - the size of an olympic swimming pool,” continued Umbarger, “Other factors included our focus on health and wellness plans and incentives, student activities and fitness and active opportunities, staff support for bio-screening and health initiatives, and our educational programming, which demonstrates incredible opportunities for students to engage in sustainability within their curriculum.”