2017, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Luke Roffey from Westwood Collegiate is passionate about the creek near his home. “Sturgeon Creek provides vital habitat for many species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish, and it’s a critical piece of nature in an otherwise urbanized landscape.” He proposed an underwater cleanup with his peers using canoes and litter removal equipment.
“An underwater litter removal project has never been done in Sturgeon Creek before, and judging by the amount of garbage Westwood students remove from the banks of the creek each year, there is likely a lot of garbage under the surface that needs to be cleaned up. Removing garbage from an aquatic ecosystem such as a stream greatly increases the quality of the habitat for wildlife. Gone are hazards that can cause injury and entanglement for animals. Removing floating and submerged garbage will dramatically increase not only the natural beauty of the park, but also the functionality of the ecosystem.
Many people, especially youth, have become very disconnected with the environment, and participating in my project will allow them to reconnect with nature. Canoeing in particular can be very therapeutic, thus by participating in my project students will not only be bettering their local watershed, but also bettering themselves.”
Upon hearing of the project, a local company “Wilderness Supply” offered to loan all of the equipment free of charge. During the cleanup, students engaged with passerby’s explaining their project and the importance to the watershed. It was a great day they now hope to repeat on an annual basis.
2017, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Hunter Watson and Alyssa Lee from Westwood Collegiate came up with one of the most unique projects seen to date. They chose to look at Watershed Awareness through Dance with spectacular evening including dance, watershed information booths, and guest speakers from watershed community partners.
“As students who are very involved in the arts in school and around the community, immediately we were reminded of how often we are told about how much dance can have an impact on people. That thought gave us the idea to create a dance show with every dance revolving around water and our watersheds. The damages we have done to it, the beauty it has, and how important it is to preserve it.
Each dance will have images projected on the screen that will help to enhance the dance and its meaning. Some dances will deal with the pollution side to our effect on our watersheds, some will focus on how our watersheds could and should look like all reflecting behind the dancer.
Seeing the issues and solutions through dance, pictures and speakers that can range from high school students to well-known organizations will surely leave an impact on the audience. This is something that has never been done before but we are confident we can do this right.”
This event attracted over 200 participants and ended with a well-deserved standing ovation standing ovation.
2017 Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA
Lexi Meckes is a nanny for three kids after school and is always having to switch out old batteries in game systems. Through this experience she became aware of how many batteries were being tossed out. She started becoming more concerned about the problem as she researched the chemicals inside every single battery and began thinking about the impact these batteries have on our environment. As a senior at Sycamore High School she has been involved in Environmental Club, AP Environmental class, and engineering. With her background knowledge and interest she became motivated to help solve this problem.
When Lexi was introduced to the Caring For Our Watersheds project she knew right away that she wanted to work on a project concerning batteries. She saw a big problem in her community and figured out a simple, direct way she could improve this issue. For her Caring For Our Watersheds project, Lexi put in place a battery-recycling program in all the schools within the Sycamore School District. These pails are located in the front offices of all schools and have begun overflowing with all the donations from community residents. She hopes recycling batteries becomes just as routine as recycling paper and plastic. With this permanent project Lexi hopes to educate her community on the simple actions they can take to make a big difference.
After the project got started, the company changed their prices and it became too expensive to mail the filled buckets, so Lexi set up a meeting with a local recycling company to discuss where she can send or take the batteries to locally for recycling. Although Lexi has experienced a few bumps along the way, her project has definite staying power because of the broad community support and participation.
She hopes this project will grow into a citywide program and prevent thousands of batteries from ending up in the landfill.
2017, Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA
Tori Lyon and Veronica France developed a project called Turning Trash into Treasure, focused on improving their watershed (the Mill Creek) by reducing the amount of plastic bags that end up as litter. The project consisted of two parts, phase one and phase two. They began their project by educating their school community through daily announcements informing classmates on the importance of keeping their local watershed clean and the detrimental effects of plastic bags on the environment. After kick-staring the education portion of their project, they started working on implementing phase one.
Phase one of the project consisted of collecting plastic bags from their school community and distributing reusable cloth bags to the students. Tori and Veronica set up a station in a busy hallway of the school where students could turn in their plastic bags. For every 25 plastic bags a student turned in, they received a custom made, reusable cloth bag. Inside each cloth bag was an informational flyer containing more facts about the Mill Creek watershed and the detrimental effects of plastic bags as litter. In order to keep track of how many bags were brought in, each student who donated plastic bags filled out a slip with their name, grade and number of bags brought in. This provided Tori and Veronica with an easy way to account for the bags donated. After they held a week-long bag collection event and distribution at school, they transitioned into phase two of the project in which they created sleeping mats out of the collected plastic bags.
Phase two started with a bag prepping party at which everyone folded, cut, and looped the plastic bags into balls of “yarn”. This ball of plastic yarn was then crocheted into sleeping mats that were donated to the homeless. They conducted significant amounts of research on how to properly crochet plastic sleeping mats, as well as the benefits of sleeping mats for those who are homeless. The mat weaving process was very time consuming and involved intricate work, so the students sought out the help of their school community for completing this part of our project.
They had an overwhelming response to their project! Tori and Veronica were hoping to collect about 2,000 plastic bags, but received over 17,000 plastic bags. Since this was such a great number of bags, they are planning on donating the extra bags to Matthew 25 Ministries where groups of volunteers work to complete similar projects. They will continue to make mats until the end of the year.
Their project reached a large scope, and they were able to help improve the condition of our watershed.
2017, Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA
When faced with the challenge to improve her local watershed, Annie Smith thought of her school drinking water fountains. Her school is very old and while it has been remodeled several times, it seems several of the drinking fountains never got updated. So she developed a project she called the “Hydration Station.” It all started when she saw the enormous amounts of plastic water bottles being thrown away at her school. Her idea was to start the process of installing automatic water bottle refill stations around the school in order to reduce the number of plastic water bottles that Oak Hills High School throws away every single day.
Annie worked with the Caring For Our Watersheds staff, her mentors, teachers and Winnsupply company in Fairfield to acquire two water fountains to be installed in the school. Maintenance staff installed the first fountain (pictured below) in one of the main hallways within the school in order to maximize the usage of the fountain. After less than a week of being installed, the water fountain had already saved 395 water bottles, a number that will hopefully continue growing. That’s right, almost 400 bottles in just one week.
Annie graduated just after the CFW finals, but in the future she hopes to revisit the school and see how many water bottles have been saved. She hopes to take this newly collected data and propose that all the water fountains at Oak Hills High School be replaced with new water bottle filling stations. If this is successful, she plans on reaching out to the superintendent and proposing that all old water fountains in the district be replaced with new water bottle filling stations. She also hopes to work with the Oak Hills “Spirit Shop”, or book store, to get reusable water bottles with the Oak Hills logo on them, to be purchased and used by students and staff at the water fountains. The janitors had some issues with the ‘old’ plumbing, but they were able to build a frame to mount the new filling station. Persistence pays off.
2017, Berthoud, Colorado, USA
Delaney and Emma identified a lack of interactive and educational games available to students online that teaches the current situation regarding bee populations in their watershed. To solve this problem, the students designed an online game that raises awareness and the positive steps that can be taken to help protect the honeybees in the area.
The main character in the game is Buzz the Bee. Buzz flies through several backgrounds and landscapes point out to game users the different positive and negative effects in the environment that can support or harm bees. The players then experience a series of educational questions that help them recognize the relationship of bees and human life. The answers to the questions are recorded and a final report is give at the end of the game. Players can then use this score to identify how they can better help the bees in the watershed. The game can be found at: http://whatsthebzzz.com/
2017, Greeley, Colorado, USA
In order to reduce the amount of solid waste entering the Cache la Poudre watershed, people
need to understand the effects of their waste on the watershed. Indigo’s project began with educating middle school students at Chappelow Magnet School. She taught a 30-minute presentation to three 7th grade science classes. Before and after the presentation, Indigo took a brief survey of the students to see how much they cared about recycling and how the presentation changed this response. There was a 130% increase in students that gave a 10 for their response after the presentation.
In addition to this, she also created a mural from plastic trash. In order to do this, Indigo held a plastic cap collecting contest at Greeley Central High School. Over the course of the contest, she collected over 14,000 caps and created a mosaic. The mosaic took a little over 2,000 caps. The remaining caps were given to Chappelow Arts Magnet School, as they were doing a similar project.
The project was featured in the Greeley Central school newspaper. It was also posted on Facebook by the school. The original post has accumulated over 300 reactions.
The project easily reached the attention of over 1,000 people and kept over 14,000 caps from entering the landfill. More solid waste has been withheld through personal efforts of others as they have become aware of this problem.
2017, Milliken, Colorado, USA
While researching ideas for the Caring for Our Watersheds project, Tyler, Patrick and Cameron discovered a gigantic waste of water at their high school. The district was watering the recreational fields around the school. They studied and analyzed the watering period, amount, location, dates, etc., and concluded the watering style was inefficient and wasteful. To solve this issue, they proposed the implementation of WR2 rain gauge sensors. These sensors would stop the watering of the fields when rain or soil saturation is abundant and additional water would be wasteful. These sensors would not only save water, but also save money for the school, making it appealing to both environmental focused administration and budget focused as well. The students worked with the school district and installed three WR2 rain gauge sensors which have reduced water usage by 30-50%. They will be monitoring the water usage during 2017-2018 and reporting back to the school administration.
2017, Milliken, Colorado, USA
Kayla Johnson, Mattea Klein, Aubrey Wallace
Roosevelt High School, Milliken, Colorado
Kayla, Mattea and Aubrey noticed a problem at their high school – there were not enough recycling bins at the school which resulted in the students and staff contributing over 48,000 pounds of trash per year into the landfill. Their solution was to add 7 more recycling bins throughout the high traffic areas of the school. The materials from the new recycling bins are being collected by Waste Management. The company already has a recycling contract with the school, so it did not increase the overall expenditure for the district.
2017, Greeley, Colorado, USA
Greeley Central High School, Greeley, Colorado
Riley decided to create a pollinator friendly environment in the City of Greeley. Riley contacted Karen Scopel, the Natural Lands Coordinator for the City of Greeley, and selected a nature area for her proposal. The herbicide to dispose of the invasive species location is called Pumpkin Ridge which is next to the Sheepdraw trail. The entire area has recently been burned and sprayed with “Cheatgrass”. The goal is to increase native plant species that will also be pollinator friendly. In addition, she installed two inset houses in the area. The native organisms that were planted are Showy Milkweed, Palmer Penstemon, Butterfly Milkweed, White Clover, Purple Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Yellow Coxie Flower, White Yarrow, and Black-Eyed Susan. In April, Riley organized a group of volunteers to clean the area, sow the seeds and install the insect boxes.