News Releases

News Releases

Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School, Furman University Receive National Awards in Virtual Green Ribbon Ceremony

August 13, 2020


COLUMBIA, S.C. —  During the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE) Virtual Ceremony Celebration Week, August 2-8, Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School (CREECS) in McClellanville and Furman University in Greenville were honored as South Carolina’s 2020 Green Ribbon Schools. Despite the interruption in the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19, these schools pressed forward and were recognized for reducing their environmental impacts, improving the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff, and developing an effective sustainability-focused curriculum.  

This national designation commends schools in their efforts to incorporate “green and sustainable” practices as part of their curriculum and day-to-day operations. CREECS and Furman University were recognized during the virtual ceremony along with 39 other schools, 11 districts, and 5 post-secondary institutions across the country.

“DHEC is very proud of the hard work and dedication of these two schools to receive this national award designation, especially during these difficult times as we continue to experience the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Rhonda Thompson, Chief of DHEC's Bureau of Air Quality. “Both Furman University and CREECS are setting an example of how we can all be committed to caring for our environment and the health of our communities”.  

Some of CREECS’s initiatives include: 

  • A waste free lunch program which encourages upcycling common trash items and rewards older students for working with younger students to reduce the number of single-use plastic containers on campus.
  • Reducing the use of harmful pesticides by posting “Do Not Spray” signs around campus. Instead, natural strategies, such as providing bat boxes, goats, sheep, and chickens for weed and pest control, are put in place to reduce the need for pesticides.
  • Gardening to provide healthy food choices such as a side dish at lunch, as well as planting native species which attract butterflies and other helpful pollinators.
  • Participation in SCDHEC’s Breathe Better anti-idling program to reduce air pollution on campus and protect the health of the students, faculty, staff, and the environment.

Some of Furman University’s efforts include:

  • Student-driven initiatives to reduce the school’s carbon footprint, such as developing a climate action plan as part of the American College and University President’s Climate commitment.
  • Offering free energy efficiency home weatherizations to underserved area residents through the University’s Community Conservation Corps program. 
  • Building partnerships to strengthen community health and providing faculty and staff an online self-help tool which includes resources to reduce stress, anxiety, and track personal progress.
  • Providing healthy, sustainable foods through their Farm to Fork program. Furman is committed to supporting local farmers and keeping money invested in their community, preserving biodiversity and protecting open spaces.  

Each year, the USDE Green Ribbon Schools program gives schools across the USA the opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding efforts in sustainability, health and wellness, and environmental education. In South Carolina, schools interested in applying to become a USDE Green Ribbon School should apply to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The new application period will open September 1, 2020.

Please visit for more details regarding the application process and to access previous awardee’s applications as well as additional resources. More information about the USDE Green Ribbon Schools is available at




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