WIESBADEN, Germany - Hainerberg Elementary School joined the ranks of a select few units and organizations eligible to display the Green Boot Certificate outside their facility.

Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, presented Principal Penelope Miller-Smith and members of the school's Recycling Club with the Green Boot award Sept. 23.

"We're just taking it to the next level," said Hainerberg's principal about the school's focus on the environment and energy savings -- part of the school's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiatives -- and the renaming of the Recycling Club to the Green Boot Club. "We want to ignite that passion in children, but also to partner with the community … to conserve energy and minimize our impact on the environment."

The program exemplifies the Department of Defense Education Activity's STEM initiatives and reflects the collaboration and national connections that local DoDEA school's have with their surrounding military communities, Miller-Smith said.

As part of the Green Boot Program, members of Wiesbaden military community units and organizations volunteer to work with the garrison's energy team to monitor and track their energy and recycling efforts. It starts with a checklist that is tailored to each organization, completion of the items on the checklist and a site visit by the energy team.

"It's about the units taking responsibility for themselves," said Maj. William McGlothlin, operations officer for USAG Wiesbaden's Directorate of Public Works, explaining that everyone's help is needed to reduce the more than $19 million the garrison spent in energy costs last year and millions more for refuse disposal.

"Besides the fiscal reality -- saving money through recycling and less energy use -- it's being better neighbors," said McGlothlin. "It's also about changing the culture -- learning techniques that units can take back into combat to reduce their environmental footprint."

"The kids are doing this voluntarily as a choice activity," said Green Boot Club teacher sponsor Lyn Wheeler.

"This is the first one of these that we've done with one of our schools," said Carsten, adding that he would like to see all of Wiesbaden schools engaged in the program. "This is huge not only for the community, but also for DoDDS. If our largest Wiesbaden school can be energy and environmentally active, than so can our other schools.

"We have to use our resources more efficiently," he added.

For more information on the Green Boot Program contact Maj. McGlothlin at mil 337-5840 or by email at William.p.mcglothlin.mil@mail.mil.