Author Archives: agriumwp

Leaving a Legacy

Wetlands are among the most biologically diverse, productive, and important life support systems on earth. They are integral to the functioning of important ecosystems and species and they provide us all with a wide range of benefits—from flood control and water supply to recreational activities. When these benefits aren’t recognized or valued, we may lose these valuable resources and the benefits they provide are either costly or impossible to replace.

A wetland is “land that is saturated with water long enough to promote wetland or aquatic processes as indicated by poorly drained soils, hydrophytic (water-loving) vegetation, and various kinds of biological activity which are adapted to a wet environment.”
(National Wetlands Working Group, 1988)

Recognizing an opportunity to support wetlands conservation efforts, Nutrien partnered with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to purchase wetlands in need of protection and restoration efforts.* By pledging US$1 million to DUC Nutrien established the Legacy Wetland Restoration Program, ($250 thousand over four years) these funds are used to purchase habitat in DUC’s waterfowl target areas across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The wetlands and nearby uplands are restored, and a conservation easement is placed on the habitat to protect it forever. (Conservation easements stay with the land, regardless of who owns it.)

These projects (two in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan) were selected based on their high biological function—a combination of wetlands and pasture, forage or other lands where birds and animals have habitat. They are also in target areas previously identified by DUC as areas needing wetland restoration. In general, these are areas that have most likely been drained or cleared but which are also not suited for cropland use, pasture or forage production.

This program’s current projects are areas of high value for the northern pintail duck, a waterfowl species of concern according to DUC. Recognized by its slender build, elegant neck and elongated, spiky central tail feathers, the northern pintail is also able to achieve great speeds while flying, earning the species the nickname ‘greyhound of the air’. Source: www.ducks.ca

The key to wetland restoration is reestablishing the area’s original hydrology and topography, and restoring natural processes including the original native plant cover. For the projects currently underway, DUC conservation specialists and third party contractors will be restoring wetlands that have been drained with ditches. To reverse the harmful effect of the ditch, earthen plugs are pushed into the ditch at its lowest points, stopping drainage and backing up the water flow. On average, up to 20 staff days are required for land acquisition, restoration and perimeter fencing installation.

When the time comes, an online auction, open to all bidders, is held to resell the land. Local advertisers are engaged to ensure a broad level of awareness of the sale. This publicity is also an important way for DUC to communicate that new conservation easements placed upon the property. It is important for any potential buyers to know that they will be required to maintain the status quo of the land state at the time of purchase, and, for example, they cannot drain wetlands or clear any upland areas.

It takes approximately 3 to 4 years for a project to progress through this program – from the initial purchase to the restoration, to the placement of easement and the eventual resale. Revenues from the sale of the land will be reinvested into a new purchase and the entire process will begin again – creating a legacy of wetland restoration projects.

Fixing the Filter

2014 Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

Janelle Klainchar wanted to make a difference in the health of the Lake Winnipeg watershed by installing a dilution tank in her school, Selkirk Regional Comprehensive School. The old system was not functioning properly and Janelle felt she needed to step in and make a change for the better. The dilution tank has now been successfully installed thanks to Nutrien through the “Caring for our Watersheds” contest!

Water Bottle Filling Station

Bottled water is becoming an increasingly popular choice among many students today. However, the these recyclable water bottles end up in landfills more often than not.

Ivonne Morales, a Greely Central High School student in Greeley, Colorado, noticed this trend and realized he must do something about it. Working with Liz Mock-Murphy, her teacher/mentor, she installed five water bottle filling stations in her school and encourages students to use reusable bottles.
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Sustainable Food Garden

2014 Portland, Victoria, Australia

Students from Portland Secondary College were finalists in the 2014 Caring for Our Watersheds competition, with their proposal to implement a Sustainable Food Garden that would help supply the community kitchen connected to their school.

This kitchen is used by hospitality students from Portland and Heywood Secondary Colleges, the Re-engagement center and community at large.

The garden has multiple benefits including: reduction in the purchase of packaged goods, less food waste, and increased biodiversity in the Portland community.

Thanks to the Caring for our Watersheds program and community partners the students were able to:

  • Construct eight raised garden beds filled with edible native and common food plants.
  • Set up an organic waste recycle system with composting and chickens to sustain the garden and minimize waste.
  • Conduct native tree and shrub planting around our school to increase biodiversity in the corridor.

The garden has now been in full swing for several months with students maintaining and using the seasonal vegetables and herbs. The students are also composting their food waste and collecting eggs from the chicken coop!

Regular bird monitoring also takes place to keep track of the wildlife within the school grounds.

Red Maple Seedling Fundraiser

2014 Trenton, Ontario, Canada

Chantal Ouellet, a grade 8 student from Murray Centennial Public School won fourth place for her “Red Maple Seedling fundraiser” proposal. Chantal’s idea was to hold a fundraiser at her school to sell Red Maple Seedlings and use the profits to purchase a water bottle filling station for her school. Chantal’s goal was to increase awareness about the importance of planting trees in our watershed and educate her school community about the negative impacts of disposable water bottles to the environment.

Chantal purchased 320 Red Maple Seedlings for $175.00 with the guidance of Tree’s Ontario and financial assistance from Murray Centennial Public School. The fundraiser was held in April 2014 and each seedling was sold for $5.00 generating a revenue of $1475.00. The profits from the fundraiser cover the cost of purchasing one water bottle filling station for the school.

With an additional $1305.00 from Caring for Our Watershed Implementation Funds, Murray Centennial Public School will be receiving a second water bottle filling station to meet the needs of the school with population of 600 staff and students.

The two water bottle filling stations were installed March 2015.

Composting System for Valley High

2014 Elk Grove, California, USA

Members of the Valley High School Green Club were concerned about the excessive amount of recyclable and compostable material that was being thrown into their school dumpsters each day. As this landfill waste can eventually lead to water contamination and problems in the watershed, they wanted to address this issue and implement a program to collect this material and remove it from the waste stream. The compostable material would then be added to bins to produce soil for the school garden they are starting.

Since this is a large task, Green Club members also enlisted the support of the ILS and Special Education students to transport the compostable waste (food scraps and cardboard lunch trays) after each lunch period. The compostable material is taken to the garden area where students have set up 4 compost bins, purchased with Nutrien project funds. Students also gather grass clippings to add to the compost bins.

Through the process, students found that the cardboard lunch trays do not break down easily, so they purchased a chipper/shredder to shred the cardboard into fine pieces that decompose more readily. The Nutrien implementation funds also helped students purchase other tools to help maintain the compost, such as a hose to keep it moist, and shovels and gloves to turn the compost.

During this first year of the new compost system, it is estimated that over 1000 cardboard lunch trays have been composted in this manner, reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill. The Valley High Green Club anticipates improving and expanding upon the system as they move forward.

Water Conservation Education Booth

2014 Elk Grove, California, USA
Team Photo

California is currently faced with a severe water shortage and extreme drought conditions. The need for water conservation is critical and water agencies are appealing to the public for help. Students in the Green Club at Valley High are concerned that students and members of their community are unaware of how serious the current predicament has become and how to address the situation with water conservation measures. Judy Phu, Asia Xiong, and Jamilah Ahmach-Antolin presented their proposal to address this situation at the 2014 Caring for Our Watershed Finals. Their solution included preparing a community outreach booth geared toward water conservation for the on-campus community health fair.

The community health fair is attended by hundreds of students from the feeder middle and elementary schools as well as other community members, providing an excellent opportunity to reach a large number of people in a short period of time. Green Club members designed a water education game (similar to Chutes and Ladders) where younger students could play and see water conservation measures in a fun-interactive way. They gathered pamphlets and information from local water agencies to give to visitors as well as secured donations of water conservation related prizes (low-flow showerheads, shower timers, toilet leak test kits, etc.) to giveaway to game winners. Booth visitors were encouraged to sign a 20% water conservation pledge. Those that signed the pledge were entered in the raffle to win larger water conservation prizes (low-flow toilet). Through their creative, educational booth, they drew attention to an important watershed issue and exposed youth and community members to ways they could make a difference.

Battery Recycling

2014 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Batteries need to be disposed of in a proper manner. Orit Gluskin wanted to make sure her fellow students knew more about battery disposal, and the dangers of batteries in the landfill.

“The elements that are put in batteries range from common acids to toxic metals. The reason we shouldn’t just dispose of batteries in the regular garbage is because under high temperature, pressure or even when untouched, they can leak toxins. If they leak into the soil they will simply follow underground water into the closest water supply. These toxins are harmful to both organisms and the environment.”

Thanks to a contribution from Nutrien, Orit was able to start a school-wide battery recycling awareness campaign. Orit created posters and student surveys to learn more about her classmate’s knowledge around battery disposal. She also held a recycling drive where students could bring in their batteries, which were taken to a reputable e-waste facility in Winnipeg. Students were rewarded for their participation with entries for gift cards.

Greening our Cafeteria

2014 Gimli, Manitoba, Canada

Students at Gimli High School have taken an environmental interest in their school cafeteria. They’ve monitored the amount of waste produced by their cafeteria and decided they wanted to look for better options to reduce that waste. Carly, Tristin, and Hayden proposed testing compostable and paper plates to see if they would hold up in their cafeteria and if they will break down in their school’s compost bins. Once their testing is complete, they plan to work with the school to see what kind of changes can be made to make their cafeteria greener.

“The materials that these various plates, cups, and cutlery are currently made of will either never decompose, or will sit in our landfills for a minimum of 50-80 years. According to environmentalhealthnews.org, plastic in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater. This means that not only are we littering our earth and filling our landfills, but we are infecting our groundwater, drinking water quality, and eventually our beautiful Lake Winnipeg.”

With a donation from Nutrien, the trio was able to purchase various brands and types of plates to experiment with. This is a great first step in their journey to a greener cafeteria!

Bottled Up

2014 Landmark, Manitoba, Canada

Trevor, Cole, Jaxon, and Andrew wanted their school to use less plastic water bottles. They also saw the refill stations as a way to reduce water use. They proposed faucet refill water stations to encourage students to refill their own bottles.

“We did an experiment to see how much water we will waste from drinking from a fountain. We squirted water from the fountain into a cup for three seconds and marked the cup, and then we timed someone drinking and got the spilled water in a cup and marked it. By comparing the lines we discovered that 66% (2/3) of the water dispensed goes down the drain.”

Thanks to Nutrien, the school now has a new drinking fountain with a sensor so that no more drinking water goes down the drain!