The District aims to provide students with nature-based learning; access to nutritious, sustainably-sourced food; and knowledge about sustainable food systems. Together, these improve social, emotional, health, and academic outcomes and nurture an appreciation for the environment in our next generation. As such, Austin ISD:
- Signed the Pledge to support the Austin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, which was passed by City Council in 2017.
- Collaborates in the Cities Connecting Children to Nature program to create Green School Parks.
- Provides the AISD Garden to Café program to put school-gown produce in the cafeteria for our students to taste.
- Has approximately 120 gardens at Austin ISD schools, many of which are Wildlife Habitat Certified by the National Wildlife Federation for monarchs, birds, and other native wildlife.
- Participates in the Good Food Purchasing Program to purchase high-quality local foods.
- Is aligning curriculum across all core subjects with lessons that can be performed in nature.
- Has a rich and varied tree canopy that includes some of Austin’s most notable Heritage Trees. The AISD Forester ensures that trees stay healthy and safe, and that they are able to thrive and grow as valuable assets to our schools and community.
- Partners with local organizations to support school reforestation efforts.
- Provides hands-on teacher professional development and field trips to Discovery Hill, the District’s demonstration habitat garden.
- Includes “Outdoor Learning” in the revised Educational Specifications so that outdoor spaces will be deliberately designed to support learning activities at our schools.
SFC cultivates a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and increasing access to nutritious, affordable food. Through classes and trainings for home, school, and community gardens; farmers’ markets, farmstands, and other outlets for local producers; and cooking and nutrition classes, children and adults have increased access to fresh, local food and are empowered to improve the long-term health of Central Texans and our environment. SFC’s Grow Local program offers consultation and trainings on how to start, use, and sustain school and community gardens, food gardening and beekeeping classes, free gardening resources for low-income residents and schools, and field trips to the SFC Teaching Garden.
The National Wildlife Federation works with AISD schools to create Schoolyard Habitats® that restore wildlife habitat on school grounds while providing outdoor classrooms for learning across the curriculum. Schools can further their sustainability journey by becoming a certified EcoSchool!
PEAS provides knowledgeable educators to deliver TEKS aligned science lessons at your school with a secondary focus on health or environmental science.
The Austin Area School Garden Collaborative is a coalition of individuals and organizations with an interest in helping schools create, sustain, promote, and utilize onsite edible and habitat gardens by compiling useful resources and mobilizing collective action. Their website has info on how to start, maintain, and teach with schoolyard garden projects.