2017, CALGARY, AB, CANADA
In 2017, Ryan Song of Sir Winston Churchill High School placed 4th overall in the Caring For Our Watersheds competition with their project “Living Wall and Green Area”. Sir Winston Churchill High School was built in 1968 and has undergone very few renovations since then. The school contains very few windows, many of which do not open. Students often complain that the school environment is stifling, uninspiring and that there is poor air quality. In addition, Ryan felt that there was a general lack of environmental awareness among students at this school.
In an effort to combat these issues, and raise awareness about the local watershed, Ryan and the Sir Winston Churchill Earth Club decided to install a portable green wall, and produce information brochures about unsustainable behaviors that have a negative impact on our watershed. The portability of the green wall means that it can be moved to different classrooms within the school, based on the amount of natural light that is seasonally available in sections of the building.
The living wall and green area is maintained by student volunteers that are members of the Eath Club. Through their continued dedication to this project, and involvement with the CFOW program, these students have taken a vested interest in protecting the watershed and providing knowledge to other students about why the green wall is there and the impact our actions have on native plants and animals in our watershed.
2017, MILK RIVER, AB, CANADA
In 2017, Robin Stelten and Brooke Johnston of Erle Rivers High School in Milk River, Alberta implemented their 2015/2016 project “Hawk Nesting Platforms”. Robin and Brooke were concerned about the impact of rodenticides on local raptor populations and wanted to encourage local farmers to decrease the use of rodenticides, instead relying on raptors to control gopher and ground squirrel populations.
When rodenticides are used as a method of pest control, they can often be ingested by predators such as hawks, and be passed up the food chain, leading to bioaccumulation and often death. Second generation rodenticides are widely used in Canada and the USA and are particularly dangerous in the case of accidental ingestion by children, pets and wildlife.
In an effort to encourage raptors to nest in local rural communities, Brooke and Robin enlisted the help of Fortis Alberta to install hawk nesting platforms. In conjunction with education provided to the local community, Brooke and Robin were able to install six hawk nesting platforms just outside their community of Milk River, Alberta. Since the installation of these platforms, hawks have been seen hunting off two of the platforms. It is hoped that raptors will use these structures to nest during the 2017 nesting season.
As the area around Milk River encompasses the nesting and breeding habitat of ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), a species considered ‘At Risk’ in Alberta, the efforts of these students to increase the local population of this particular raptor species is especially commendable.
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.
2016, Daysland, Alberta, Canada
Bria Kroetch, Brooke Hochausen, and Alarie Guhle from Daysland Alberta were tired of seeing kids fill up a glass of water to take one sip, then pour the rest down the drain.
After learning about their Battle River Watershed and the regions limited supply of fresh water, the girls decided to try to save drinking water, one cup at a time. They designed a “thirst measurement cup” to help kids make the connection between their thirst, and how much they should fill their cup.
These three girls did a presentation on watersheds and conserving water to all 250+ students in their school. After the presentation, they handed out the cups to all students in grades 1-6.
The cup will not only help students save water on a daily basis, but also embed a habit of water conservation. The goal went beyond saving just the water in the cup, it was also to get students thinking about how they use water, and how they can conserve it. Homes and the school in Daysland should now be seeing lots of water being saved, in the cup and beyond!
The cup has 4 measurement lines indicating “Almost Quenched”, “Just need a drink”, “Thirsty”, and “Dry as Dust”.
2016, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
Lacombe Composite High School has an active agriculture class and eco team, which have resulted in an amazing school greenhouse, aquaponics system and outdoor gardens.
One of the challenges that many schools face is having their gardens watered in the summer months when students are away.
The other challenge is watering the gardens efficiently to save water, while helping the plants grow.
Rachel Reitsma and Avy Lamb, students in the LEAFS initiatve, decided to conquor both challenges by installing a drip irrigation system in their gardens. The irrigation tube (shown left) is dug into the soil to water the plant’s roots while minimizing the rate of evaporation. The system could also be set on a timer to water regullary, with options to delay watering if there is significant rainfall.
The other cool project implemented at the school this year is a Beewise- a home for native pollinators. Pollinators such as bees are facing a drastic decline in their population. This can harm the plants, including our food, which rely on pollinators.
This Beewise pollinator home provides much needed habitat, while ensuring the school’s gardens get the pollination they need.
2016, Bashaw, Alberta, Canada
Bailie McDonald in Bashaw wanted to help protect her watershed by protecting wetlands. She learned that wetlands are important habitat for lots of animals, help improve water quality, and help store water for dry times.
Bailie wasn’t sure how she could protect a wetland, but knew that Ducks Unlimited did lots of great work in her area, including a site called the Pileated Project near her home.
After discussing her desire to help protect wetlands with her family, Bailie decided that one thing she could do was to bake some yummy treats and host a bake sale at her school. The money she raised could then be donated to Ducks Unlimited to help with their Pileated Project.
The bake sale raised $200 which was then matched with the Caring for our Watersheds implementation funding. She presented the $400 cheque to Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers at a local event.
This project proves that no matter a person’s background skills, they are able to help improve their watershed!
2016, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada
Emily Jackson from Wetaskiwin, Alberta decided that she could help improve the watershed by
reducing the amount of disposable water bottles used at her school.
Her Caring for our Watersheds project involved installing a water-bottle fill-up station in the main foyer of the Wetaskiwin Composite Highschool. Not only that, but she worked with the student council to sell reusable water bottles and post information about reducing waste and the benefits of reusable bottles next to the station.
Emily is happy to leave this legacy of down cycling at her school as she heads off to university.
“Down Cycling”, which is to use less, is even better then recycling, which still uses a lot of energy and resources.
2016, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2016 marked the third time Simran Panesar had entererd into the Caring for our Watersheds program, and the third time she was in the final competition.
Building on projects she had done in the past, in 2016 Simran wanted to incorporate tree planting and improving biodiversity at her new school, W.P. Wagner.
Her project was two parts, planting trees and putting up bird houses in the schools yard, which is part of the Mill Creek watershed.
To get help with the tree planting, Simran invited grade 6 students (who learn about trees and forests in their science curriculum) from her old school, A. Blair McPherson. The class was treated to a full day of activities including a pizza lunch, a leaf based art project, playing a biodiversity game, and finally, participating in planting trees.
The community organization Roots for Trees helped source the 45 trees, brought the equipment, and helped teach the students how to plant. The trees were a mix of native trees including Saskatoon, Lodgepole Pine, and Red Osier dogwood.
The bird houses have also been installed and are bringing more biodiversity to the school.
2016 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The 2016 first place winners in Southern Alberta’s Caring For Our Watersheds competition were Centennial High School students Kaylee Nishizawa, Rebecca McCollister and Nicole Stringham, with their project “Save The Trees, Use The Trees”
These students were concerned about water conservation and the use of herbicides and pesticides in their community. When researching these issues, the students became interested in the use of mulch on gardens and flowerbeds. Mulch helps inhibit weed growth, retain soil moisture and prevents frost heaving and soil temperature fluctuations. Armed with information on the benefits of using mulch, the students organized a “Community Mulch Day”, where residents could come to the local community centre between 10:00 and 2:00 to pick up free mulch to use on their gardens and flowerbeds.
To encourage people within their community to take advantage of the fee mulch, the students distributed thousands of flyers to residents in their South Calgary community, informing them of the event and of the benefits of using mulch in their yards.
The “Community Mulch Day” was a huge success! Hundreds of citizens came to the Mid Sun Community Centre to pick up free mulch, provided by The City of Calgary. The students were there to provide information on the benefits of using mulch, and to help people load the mulch into their vehicles.
This project was made possible by a number of sponsors, including: Caring for Our Watersheds, The City of Calgary Parks, Greengate Garden Centers, atr and the Mid-Sun Community Association.