TurfMutt celebrates 10 years of teaching children about healthy landscapes

By Sarah Bunyea

The youth education program expands to middle schoolers with new curriculum.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s environmental education and stewardship program, TurfMutt, celebrates its tenth anniversary of teaching the value and benefits of the outdoors, specifically the contributions of our own backyards, community parks and other landscapes.

“For the last decade, TurfMutt’s message has been simple: care for the green space around you, but equally important, get outside and enjoy it,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “Now we’re expanding to include more students and their families to further promote the health and wellness benefits of being an ‘outsider’.”

TurfMutt started as a pilot youth education program to schools in Sacramento in fall 2009, and has grown into a national program for kids, families and communities. TurfMutt has appeared on morning television shows, Lucky Dog and Ready Set Pet, and has been featured in Parade magazine.

This year, the Scholastic program expands to middle schools, starting with TurfMutt’s “The (Really) Great Outdoors Contest,” which encourages students in grades six to eight to design a nature space that works for their lifestyle and community no matter where they live.

The contest offers four prizes ranging from $750–$2,000 for students, as well as cash prizes for teachers ($125–$750) and schools ($125–$750). Additional contest details are available at www.scholastic.com/turfmutt.

TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The program’s mascot is Lucky the TurfMutt, an animated version of a real-life rescue dog who is “pawing it forward” by inspiring students to care for the environment and appreciate its benefits. Learn more at www.turfmutt.com.