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Michigan Green Schools program grows by over 100 schools in 2023

Environmental stewardship and education were front and center at over 300 Michigan schools recently recognized as Michigan Green Schools.

Students part of Michigan Green Schools take part in a pollinator habitat project.

Students part of Michigan Green Schools take part in a pollinator habitat project.


This year marks the second year that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) was responsible for operating the Michigan Green Schools program, which was previously run by a non-profit organization.

In EGLE’s first year of program administration, 196 schools received recognition, and in 2023 that number grew by over 100 schools to a total of 306. EGLE also introduced a new, online application process that utilizes an ArcGIS Hub site to streamline the application and review process.

While the statewide program is facilitated by EGLE, a network of 30+ volunteer County Coordinators assist with supporting schools and reviewing applications each year.

“The Michigan Green Schools County Coordinators are essential to the success of the Green Schools program,” said Eileen Boekestein, EGLE’s Environmental Education Coordinator. “We wouldn’t have seen the growth in the program that we did this year without the hard work they put in to support schools through the new application process.”

The new Green Schools Portal allows those 30+ County Coordinators to receive and review online applications, a significant improvement from the days of paper and scanned application forms. EGLE’s innovative integration of the new online application with geospatial tools recently won recognition through Esri’s Special Achievement in GIS award.  

The Michigan Green Schools program was originally established through the work of student advocates in 2006. In 2010, the program was expanded to allow for multiple levels of recognition. The overall goal is to promote stewardship-themed activities and information to support environmental education in grades pre-K through 12.

“EGLE believes in the importance of environmental education as a pathway to increasing environmental stewardship, and we see the Green Schools program as an important way to promote that education and action in Michigan,” said Eileen Boekestein.

For the 2022-2023 school year, 306 schools were designated as Michigan Green Schools, as follows:

Green: 98

Emerald: 72

Evergreen: 136

Under the Michigan Green Schools program, schools may qualify for various levels of stewardship by earning points for activities:

  • Green School -- 10 total activities
  • Emerald School -- 15 total activities
  • Evergreen School -- 20 total activities

The four categories of activities for official Green School qualification are:

  • Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
  • Energy
  • Environmental Protection
  • Miscellaneous

A school is eligible to receive a Green School, Emerald School, or Evergreen School Environmental Stewardship Designation if the school or students perform the required number of activities, with a minimum of two activities from each of the four categories.

Educators who would like to participate in the program during the 2023-2024 academic year can learn more on the Michigan Green Schools Portal. Applications open January 1st of each year.

Individuals who are interested in volunteering to become a Michigan Green Schools County Coordinator can also check the MI Green Schools Portal to see if their county has a vacancy.

Questions about the program can be directed to Eileen Boekestein at