Help protect the United States Virgin Islands’ natural resources.

Water Smart Schools VI: Eco-Schools Watershed Pathway Initiative

Water Smart Schools VI is a comprehensive drinking water safety and waste reduction program being made available to seven public schools in the U.S. Virgin Islands from 2022 to 2024. Project goals include: 
• Increased access to clean safe drinking water for Virgin Islands school children, teachers, and staff, 
• Reduced amount of plastic waste generated in schools, specifically through the reduction of plastic water bottles, and,
• Increased literacy and awareness for Virgin Islands school children, teachers, and the wider community about issues of water quality and testing, water conservation and pollution, sources of freshwater, and plastic waste, including impacts on health and the environment. 

Download the Curricula here.

The project is guided by an advisory committee of diverse community and local government partners who meet quarterly. It was made possible with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The project architects and the leadership team include partners from: 
• Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS)
• Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC)
• Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, University of the Virgin Islands (VIMAS)
• Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Coastal Zone Management (DPNR)

Eco-Schools, under the umbrella of VICS, serves as the lead coordinators and works directly with schools, the community, and the Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The grant administrator is EPIC. Water Smart Schools VI also builds on the successes of the VIMAS Water Heroes Project and DPNR’s Refill Bottles Not Dumpsters Project. 

Project elements include: 
• The installation of permanent water bottle filling stations at seven public schools. 
• The distribution of three thousand reusable water bottles to participating students, teachers, and staff. 
• Teacher training workshop for STEM educators to learn about the issues and the curricula shared through this program.
• Distribution of water quality testing kits for classrooms and facilitation of the Water Heroes water quality testing curriculum. 
• Participation in Eco-Schools, including a school environmental audit, the opportunity to receive bronze level certification, and ongoing educational support. 
• Access to additional environmental education opportunities. 

Join us in this opportunity to provide hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) education to Virgin Islands students, so that together we can create a more healthy and resilient future. If you are interested in participating as a school, volunteer, or Project Advisory Committee Member, or for more information about this program please contact:
· Kai Nielsen at [email protected] for St. Croix
· Zoe Banfield at [email protected] for St. Thomas and St. John

Water Smart Schools VI Leadership Team Partners: 

Eco-Schools is the world’s largest international environmental education program engaging pre K‐12 school communities in a comprehensive, environment‐based program to improve student environmental literacy and skills in a way that links to many curriculum subjects. VICS is the oldest local non-profit environmental conservation organization in the U.S. Virgin Islands and is the home of Eco-Schools, which is supervised by VICS Executive Director Anne Marie Hoffman with Coordinators Kai Nielsen and Zoe Banfield.

The Water Heroes Project has already demonstrated its success in helping students learn how to identify safe drinking water while engaging students in the scientific process through an exciting hands-on learning experience. This program was developed and implemented by the Director of the VIMAS Howard Forbes Jr. Materials, curriculum resources, and water quality testing kits will go to selected schools. 

The Refill Bottles Not Dumpsters Project

Will provide the blueprint and resources for the installation of the water filling stations and the distribution of refillable water bottles as well as educational materials regarding plastic waste reduction. It was developed and administered by DPNR’s Coastal Zone Management Education and Outreach Coordinator, Kitty Edwards.