COLRAIN — Colrain Central School’s reusable bag program and efforts to replenish the local trout population are garnering attention from Project Green Schools, a Plymouth-based organization that seeks to develop the next generation of environmental leaders.
Project Green Schools has named Colrain Central School a 2020 Green Difference Award winner in the Land, Air, Natural World category for its project to replenish the trout population in the North River after a September sulphuric acid spill killed tens of thousands of fish, and in the Waste Management category for its reusable bag program.
According to a Colrain Central School press release, the school was nominated for its service learning initiatives that directly tie students to real-world application and problem-solving in their own communities. The service learning initiative began two years ago as a way to give real-world context to the academic content taught in the classroom.
“Being recognized for not one, but two of our projects is amazing,” said Colrain Central School Principal Amy Looman. “These awards help to honor and showcase the hard work of our staff, students and community partners. Our students can see first-hand that they don’t have to wait until adulthood to make a difference in their community.”
Looman said service learning provides students with the opportunity to work as problem-solvers with community partners to find solutions. This real-world application of problem-solving puts students in the driver’s seat with their learning and helps to build a strong sense of community.
“In both the trout restoration and our reusable bag projects, our students were able to learn about a problem, determine their own solutions and engage with community partners throughout the process,” Looman said.
“Having these experiences builds a sense of meaning and agency in our children, helping them to become more resilient during uncertain times,” added Service Learning Coordinator Talia Miller. “We appreciate the recognition for our work and look forward to continuing to make an impact on our community.”
Miller emphasized the importance of service learning to help students see themselves as problem-solvers while learning the process behind completing a project of their own design.
“It’s also important for our students to see themselves as integral parts of the community,” Miller said. “Students were not just a part of the projects, they were the force that helped them come to fruition. When students engage in this kind of active, authentic learning, the results are lasting and deep.”
Project Green Schools’ Green Difference Award winners are typically celebrated at the State House for an award ceremony, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual celebration will be held.
“I want to congratulate all of the 2020 honorees who have stepped up to implement creative solutions to real-world sustainability-related challenges experienced in their school community,” said Robin Buchanan, founder and executive director of Project Green Schools. “Creating a pathway through STEAM education and experiential learning for youth involvement provides a strong foundation for the next generation of environmental leaders to take on 21st-century challenges with profound impact.”
For more information about the awards, visit