Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo
California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #24-22
April 26, 2024
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2024 California Green Ribbon Schools Award Honorees

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 20 schools, 14 school districts, and two county offices of education earned 2024 California Green Ribbon Schools awards. Among these state honorees are five “Green Achievers” nominated by Thurmond to receive U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition. The U.S. Department of Education today confirmed all five Green Achievers as ED-GRS honorees, which are recognized for conserving resources while promoting health and environmental literacy. California’s honorees are among 41 schools, 10 districts, three postsecondary institutions, and one early learning center being honored nationally.

“Allow me to extend my heartfelt congratulations to this year’s distinguished honorees," Thurmond said. “California Green Ribbon Schools stand as beacons of innovation that showcase pioneering approaches toward enhanced indoor air quality, the implementation of outdoor classrooms, and comprehensive environmental education initiatives. Within these institutions, students are not merely recipients of knowledge; they are active participants in addressing pressing global issues, such as climate change, alongside tackling local challenges like water quality, food security, energy conservation, waste management, and emotional well-being. It brings me immense satisfaction to note that more than half of these commendable honorees hail from communities with the greatest need within our state. California’s Green Ribbon Schools are at the forefront of nurturing the next generation’s capacity for creativity and critical thinking, thereby equipping them to become effective stewards of our environment both today and in the years to come.”

California’s 2024 ED-GRS honorees are:

  • Cabrillo Unified School District (USD), San Mateo County
  • Claremont USD, Los Angeles County
  • Rio School District, Ventura County
  • Trabuco Elementary, Saddleback Valley USD, Orange County
  • Pacific Ridge School (a private school), San Diego County

The California Green Ribbon Schools award uses applications submitted for ED-GRS recognition to recognize schools and districts for environmental excellence. Private school awards are conferred by the California Association of Private School Organizations.

Details on California’s ED-GRS honorees and a list of the California Green Ribbon Schools honorees are below. For more information, please visit the CDE Green Ribbon Schools Award Program web page.

California’s 2024 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Honorees

Cabrillo Unified School District, San Mateo County

Cabrillo USD promotes environmental literacy and sustainability through strategic plans and districtwide initiatives. Teaming up with the local county office of education, Cabrillo USD actively supports teachers and staff in designing project-based learning units emphasizing environmental action and justice. To enrich the educational experience, the district has established community partnerships and is committed to providing diverse outdoor learning opportunities for each student. Gardens are integral to the schools and include notable examples such as Cunha Middle School’s Little Cunha Farm and the district’s collaboration with the Health Environmental and Agricultural Literacy Project’s Intensive Garden Program 26-week course for elementary students. High school students benefit from agriculture Career Technical Education and Future Farmers of America programs that utilize an outdoor classroom at Half Moon Bay High School. Tri-bin collection systems at each school enhance waste diversion, and students are educated on proper sorting. Cabrillo USD’s 11-year partnership with Safe Routes to School focuses on strategic infrastructure upgrades and events promoting alternative transportation. The Half Moon Bay High School Environmental Club inspired change in the district with a presentation to the school board about zero waste programs. The presentation inspired the school board to collaborate with the club to form the district’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, which involves students, staff, board members, and community partners in shaping the district’s ecological efforts.

Claremont Unified School District, Los Angeles County

Claremont USD has several board policies to guide the district’s commitment to sustainability, environmental literacy, and school community wellness. In 2009, the district collaborated with a sustainability consulting company and hired a district energy manager to monitor energy use. With these two initiatives, the district changed the behavior of staff and students and reduced energy consumption by over 19 percent in six years. Most district schools feature programs that divert waste from landfills through recycling and composting. All Claremont USD schools have gardens and many feature outdoor learning environments. Schools focus on environmental learning, which includes studying the world’s biomes, revitalizing green spaces, and honoring the local indigenous peoples’ respect for natural resources. The district collaborates with the community organization Sustainable Claremont to consult on sustainable district initiatives and support the care of the gardens. Claremont High School offers four sections of Environmental Science and a list of environmental community projects. Fifth-grade students engage in a nine-week Leadership in Environmental Education Partnership project at neighboring Claremont College to learn from college students in outdoor labs and engage in real-time research.

Rio School District, Ventura County

Rio School District is in an ecological setting and is climate conducive to year-round cultivation, which inspires educators to foster sustainable interactions with the environment. Since 2015, district teachers have convened a group that conducts curriculum design sessions led by teachers and outside experts covering ethnobotany, native plants, remedies, and sustainability projects. Rio School District emphasizes a respectful relationship with the local environment; sustainability; collaboration with the indigenous community; and science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) integration through its newest school, Rio Del Sol STEAM Academy. The district’s interdisciplinary approach emphasizes hands-on, experiential learning by integrating field trips and place-based learning to deepen student understanding of local ecosystems and inspire sustainable practices. Since 2018, Rio School District has hosted Compost Tea Parties to enrich soil and promote natural garden management. In 2021, the district established the Rio Regenerative Farm to provide all Rio School District students with the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities to build a healthy and resilient environment, food system, and community. Rio School District conserves resources using automatic shut-off systems, timed irrigation, and waste reduction initiatives such as Zero-Waste Awareness weeks and food-sharing tables. Student advocacy prompted impactful changes in school cafeterias—from removing straws to integrating local food through farm-to-school programs.

Trabuco Elementary School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Orange County

Trabuco Elementary School is in Trabuco Canyon and surrounded by O’Neill Regional Park. The school hosts on-campus field trips that allow schools across Orange County to partake in the school’s outdoor learning environments. The school has three gardens: a vegetable and fruit garden, a pollinator garden, and a mindfulness garden. Additionally, the school has a farm with miniature donkeys, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, and other animals. Rigorous problem-based science instruction incorporating California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts extends to farm and garden lessons and fosters hands-on learning. Environmental education offers hands-on experiences with natural systems. Trabuco Elementary operates recycling and composting programs where students sort leftover food for landscaping or supplementing the farm animals’ snacks. The Trabuco Coyote Green Team, which consists of kindergarten through sixth-grade students, regularly meets to brainstorm ways to enhance campus eco-friendliness. Their initiatives have led to a 19 percent reduction in energy usage and a 7 percent decrease in water usage from the previous year.

Pacific Ridge School (private school), San Diego County

Pacific Ridge students participate in service-learning projects in collaboration with local sustainability-focused organizations for beach clean-ups and wildlife conservation efforts. Moreover, the school’s Global Travel program provides students with opportunities to learn about economic dynamics, sustainable strategies of different cultures, and place-based environmental concepts. Pacific Ridge School’s Upper School Urban Agriculture Club manages an organic garden and shares its produce with the community through on-campus “farmers markets” to raise funds in support of garden projects. The school reduces energy consumption using high-efficiency lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. It also uses solar panels to generate 85 percent of the school’s electricity. The school uses 100 percent reclaimed water for irrigation and has adopted mulch and drip systems. The school also encourages waste reduction by using reusable items; compostable serve ware; and a three-bin sorting system for green waste, mixed recycling, and landfill waste.

2024 California Green Ribbon School Awardees

Public Schools
  • Trabuco Elementary, Saddleback Unified, Orange County (Green Achiever)
  • Oxnard High, Oxnard Union High, Ventura County (Gold)
  • Bella Mente Montessori Academy, Vista Unified, San Diego County (Silver)
  • Captain Leland F. Norton Elementary, San Bernardino Unified, San Bernardino County (Silver)
  • Community Roots Academy, Capistrano Unified, Orange County (Silver)
  • Gretchen Whitney High, ABC Unified, Los Angeles County (Silver)
  • La Colina Junior High, Santa Barbara Unified, Santa Barbara County (Silver)
  • Magnolia High, Anaheim Union High, Orange County (Silver)
  • Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley, Petaluma City Schools, Sonoma County (Silver)
  • Raymond Temple Elementary, Centralia Elementary, Orange County (Silver)
  • Temecula Luiseño Elementary, Temecula Valley Union, Riverside County (Silver)
  • Walnut High, Walnut Valley Unified, Los Angeles County (Silver)
  • 24th Street Elementary, Los Angeles Unified, Los Angeles County (Bronze)
  • Charlotte N. Werner Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Bronze)
  • Foothill Middle, Mt. Diablo Unified, Contra Costa County (Bronze)
  • John Muir Elementary, Berkeley Unified, Alameda County (Bronze)
  • Levi Bemis Elementary, Rialto Unified, San Bernardino County (Bronze)
  • Longfellow Elementary, Compton Unified, Los Angeles County (Bronze)
  • Santiago Charter Middle, Orange Unified, Orange County (Bronze)
Local Educational Agencies
  • Cabrillo Unified School District, San Mateo County (Green Achiever)
  • Claremont Unified School District, Los Angeles County (Green Achiever)
  • Rio School District, Ventura County (Green Achiever)
  • Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, Solano County (Gold)
  • Laguna Beach Unified School District, Orange County (Gold)
  • Modesto City Schools, Stanislaus County (Gold)
  • Mountain View Whisman School District, Santa Clara County (Gold)
  • San Mateo County Office of Education, San Mateo County (Gold)
  • National School District, San Diego County (Silver)
  • Pittsburg Unified School District, Contra Costa County (Silver)
  • San Joaquin County Office of Education, San Joaquin County (Silver)
  • Moorpark Unified School District, Ventura County (Bronze)
  • Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, Los Angeles County (Bronze)
  • San Benito High School District, San Benito County (Bronze)
  • Santa Clara Unified School District, Santa Clara County (Bronze)
  • Vista del Mar Union School District, Santa Barbara County (Bronze)
Private School
  • Pacific Ridge School, San Diego County (Green Achiever)

# # # #

Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, April 26, 2024
Recently Posted in News Releases