Types of Green Teams

How to set up a Green Team





Green Teams for Transportation

greenteam mind map

walk & bike to school

Basic Steps to Green Team Activity,
with Suggested Activities

Identify an ecological goal
  Reducing the CO2 emissions associated with car usage

Study broad issues related to that concern
e.g.,  Greenhouse gases, air and water pollution, health advantages of active transportation.

Evaluate existing conditions at the school
e.g.,  Survey the students’ current travel patterns.
Survey parent and student attitudes.
Evaluate the routes to schools and note hazards.

Brainstorm ideas and develop a short-term action plan
to raise awareness
e.g.,  Organize regular Walk and Roll to School Days
and an incentive program

Propose a long-term proposal to ensure future reductions
e.g.:  Develop a school travel plan.
Create policies that promote walking and biking to school.
Recommend safety improvements for the routes to school.

Measure the success of the program
e.g.,  Measure student travel behavior and compare to baseline.


A comprehensive transportation program would encompass
three elements:

  • Skill Building
    For walking and biking, students should gain a basic understanding of the rules of the road and get tools and training to be safe, confident pedestrians and cyclists. Public transit use requires knowledge of the bus system and how to use it. Provide skill-building classes during school PE periods. Provide suggested-route maps to help parents to find the best ways to walk and bike to school, and provide transit guides for schools served by buses.

  • Raising Awareness
    Neither students nor parents will shift their transportation choices without good reasons to behave differently. Raising awareness can range from classroom lessons that provide relevant educational information, to special events that give people the opportunity to experience different transportation modes and gain insight and enjoyment.

  • Taking Action
    Once students have the skills and knowledge needed to walk or bike and know the reasons why they would choose those modes, many still need incentives to take that first step. Taking action can include regular Walk and Roll to School Days, setting up SchoolPools, and competitions or challenges that encourage new choices.

These elements can be introduced one at a time or simultaneously. Start small. There are a lot of great ideas out there, but don't try to do everything at once. Begin your program with simple projects that have a relatively high likelihood of success. This will help you gain additional support and credibility. You can then expand your program little by little.

Walk and Roll to School Days

– Once a year or once a month
– Every Week

Walk & Roll logoWalk and Roll to School Days are the best way to raise awareness and promote Green Ways to School. International Walk to School Day is a yearly event to promote walking and biking to school; it usually takes place the first Wednesday in October. Over 40 countries participate, including cities throughout the US. It is a great way to kick off a Green Ways to School program. The Green Team should follow this event with at least a monthly Walk and Roll to School Day to keep awareness alive. The Green Team should set a goal of holding weekly Walk and Roll to School Days to truly effect behavioral change, and, of course, promote and support daily green transportation. To find out more on how to organize a Walk and Roll to School Day download the guide.

When students reach middle and high school they usually don’t want to be associated with activities they did in elementary schools. W&R2SD can be renamed in middle school as Teens Go Green Days. Drake High School in San Anselmo held a “No Cars on Campus” day in which they closed down the parking lot.

Trip Tracking contests

Trip Tracking contests encourage students to choose green ways to school through individual or group incentives. They provide fun ways for the students to track their trips and/or miles and then look at the benefits achieved. Tracking can be done through online systems or through lower tech methods such as punch cards or raffle tickets. Students can compete individually, and classes or grade levels can compete with each other. The whole school can also set a target to reduce carbon emissions, and track total miles accumulated to achieve that goal. Even when prizes are provided, the primary focus should be the increase in green trips and corresponding decrease in motor-vehicle trips, and the individual and community benefits incurred through that action. Trip tracking activities normally last for two to four weeks although some people run the tracking longer, even year-round.


Save a Gallon or and are online trip-tracking programs designed for use by school-age children. Save a Gallon is designed for individual users while is set up for groups.

Once a student is registered, the programs offer multiple ways of recording trips:

  • Students record individual trips online

  • Teachers record collective trips of the whole class online

  • Trips get texted through smart phones

  • Trip information is scanned in via code tags issued to the students

Information provided includes:

  • Gallons of gas saved

  • Money saved

  • CO2 emissions saved

Pollution Punch Card

punchcardThis is an individual competition in which students are issued punch cards which are marked during regular W&R2SD and also on another random day during the week. Students who complete a card get an instant reward and then the cards are placed into a raffle for bigger prizes.


Frequent Rider Miles

Frequent Rider MilesFrequent Rider Miles (FRM) is also an individual competition. In this case, the students are issued cards that show every day of the week and they check off every day that they take a Green Way to School. Like the Pollution Punch card, the FRM card is used as a raffle ticket and prizes are awarded. Special recognition can be given to students who “green-travel” the farthest or the most frequently.

Golden Sneaker or Wheel Award

golden sneaker awardThis is a classroom-level or grade-level competition in which the classes track their green trips to school and compete to generate the most trips. The winning class gets the Golden Sneaker or Golden Wheel. (Creating a Golden Sneaker or Wheel award is easy: Spray-paint a sneaker or a small bicycle wheel gold and place it on a pedestal.)

Green Ways to School Challenge

This is another classroom competition developed in Marin County in which the students count the number of green trips in the class and track those trips using leaf stickers on a tree poster. It ties in the connection between reducing car trips and planting trees; both help reduce greenhouse gases. The winning class is awarded a sculpture made out of bike parts.

ReThink Your Commute

Rethink Your CommuteThis is the middle school version of Green Ways to School Challenge. Students track the trips through raffle tickets or through using the Save a Gallon scanning device. The winning class receives a special trophy at the end of the contest. In addition individual students are chosen at random for weekly prizes.

Adding an Educational Element

At many grade levels students study an area of history that involves long-distance routes: migration of explorers, the building of the missions, the expansion of railroads, highways or waterways. Any of these can be used to promote Green Ways to School. The students in the class create a map that shows the historical routes. They then sponsor a trip-tracking contest, in which the school accumulates the miles needed to travel along those routes. They can report on the progress and note interesting facts about the locations reached through their Green travels.

Comprehensive Projects:

Cool the Earth

The Cool the Earth (CTE) program educates children about climate change and inspires them to become climate-change stewards. The program brings hands-on learning to K-8 students and uses a child-driven model to effect environmental behavior change. CTE provides the students with coupon books to take home; the books feature 20 no-cost or low-cost energy-efficiency and conservation actions, such as turning off lights when not in use, and combining errands. The coupons highlight both the economic benefits and the carbon savings of each action. In addition, the students participate in fun lunchtime learning projects about specific energy-saving actions found in the coupon book. A special set of transportation cards and activities have been developed by CTE.

Travel Planning

Travel planning is usually done with an adult-centered stakeholder group, although high school and even middle school students do have the ability to initiate a travel plan as long as the administration is involved in the process. Travel planning is a comprehensive approach to transportation planning and is offered as part of a standard Safe Routes to Schools program, in which a task force is formed to create the plan. Steps to creating a Travel Plan include:

    • Gathering stakeholders

    • Setting goals

    • Gathering information

    • Conducting a site audit to identify walking and bicycling conditions

    • Develop an Action Plan which includes education, engineering, enforcement, encouragement

    • Evaluate the program

    • Develop policies that support the program

Details on developing a travel plan can be found at

Neighborhood SchoolPools

This is another comprehensive program that should be initiated by an adult Green Team. Determine the logical neighborhoods within your school boundaries. Create a digital map that shows those neighborhood boundaries and then create route maps that illustrate suggested walking and bicycling routes to school. Recruit captains from each neighborhood to organize people into SchoolPools. A SchoolPool is two or more families that agree to share in transporting their children through Green Ways to School (walking school bus, bike train or carpool). Various techniques are used to determine who lives within each neighborhood, in order to assist the captains in their outreach efforts. Download the guidebook.

Other Activities:

Other projects for Green Teams can also raise awareness and encourage green ways to school. They generally involve a smaller number of students and families, but participants often become leaders of wider efforts.

After School Bike Clubs
After-school clubs can teach a select number of students more in-depth skills for riding bikes and offer them the opportunity to test those schools with group rides. These programs can be adapted to provide an earn-a-bike program in which low-income students learn bike mechanics and use those skills to earn their own bike.

Bicycle Field Trips
These can be organized both during and after school. During the school day they can be used to transport students to special events by using bicycles rather than renting a bus or organizing carpools. (link to Drake High article of Rock Field Trip). They can also take place after school as a reward for the Green Team.

Bicycle Give-a-Way
Green Team students can advertise to collect used bikes. This can be done right after the winter holidays when many people buy new bikes to replace their older or smaller bikes. The Green Team partners with a local bike shop to learn basic bike mechanics and repair the used bicycles, as needed. They then invite disadvantaged youth and their families to apply to receive the bikes, and set up a day for distribution. (link to article on Miller Creek giveaway). They can also use the activity to raise money to provide bikes for overseas students.

Green Team students create, and post online, digital films that promote walking and biking; provide relevant information on the ecological consequences of our transportation choices; record safety issues near their school; document their existing programs.


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link to SchoolPool Guide link to SchoolPool Guide



raising awareness

Raising Awareness


Skill Building



Taking Action