Author Archives: Chloe Sprecker

Caring for Our Watersheds wins national conservation award

The Canadian Wildlife Federation named Nutrien the 2019 recipient of the Youth Mentor Award for its Caring for Our Watersheds (CFW) program.

CWF Youth Mentor Award Presentation

The Youth Mentor Award recognizes an individual or group that creates, presents or encourages conservation, habitat, or wildlife programs to the youth of Canada.

“It is a true honor to be recognized by a revered environmental organization like the Canadian Wildlife Federation and to be part of a program that is driving positive change in our local watersheds,” said Chloe Sprecker, Nutrien’s 2019 Education Program Coordinator.

CFW was launched in 2007, with the premise to turn student ideas into environmental solutions. Since then, over 30,000 students have participated in the program.

“It has been an outstanding year,” says Chloe. “Thanks to the knowledge and effort of our community partners, we’re reaching more students, receiving more entries and most importantly, these students are implementing their environmental solutions to protect and improve their local watershed.”

In its biggest year yet, there will be approximately 2,300 contest entries this school year from students looking to improve their local watershed in Canada, the United States and Argentina. As the quantity of entries grow, so does the quality of student ideas getting more impressive and diverse each year. 

As of 2019, more than 425 student-led solutions have been implemented to improve watersheds around the world. With funding provided by Nutrien, and support from over 300 community partners and volunteers globally, we will continue to bring these incredible ideas to life.

Pilot Mound Rain Gardens

2019, Pilot Mound, Manitoba, Canada

Colin Hildebrand, Joryn Buchanan, Donovan Kimball, and Riley Kimball are all students at Pilot Mound Collegiate in Pilot Mound, MB. When they were posed with the question of what they could do to improve their watershed, their thoughts took them outside to their schoolyard.

“Our problem lies in the excess water that our school ground produces and contends with… So how do we help manage excess water and potential pollutants?”

In speaking with the school’s custodian, they were able to see where drainage water flowed, accumulated, and moved across the school property. They realized that this runoff water could be picking up contaminants and sending them into local waterways and could also be contributing to flooding issues in their area. They approached their local conservation district (CD), the Pembina Valley CD, to discuss ways to mitigate these issues. Together, they came up with the idea of rain gardens along the natural swale running through the school yard to filter runoff, increase water infiltration, and reduce pollutants entering nearby waterways.

“We [will] create three rain gardens [along the existing swale]… The rain gardens will slow the water using berms, and the native plants will create more infiltration into the soil due to their large root systems.”

Cache In, Trash Out

2019, Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada

Mason Cameron and Tia Erickson are students at École Edward Schreyer in Beausejour, MB. Their plan to help their watershed was a “Cache In, Trash Out” event. They were able to spread awareness for their event within the geocaching community, and the turnout was great! One of the community members who attended the event said,

“We are so glad we made it to this incredibly well-organized event. The games were really fun!”

By using entertainment and a unique method of education delivery, people were able to enjoy learning about their watershed, cleaning their community, and other things that they can do to help every day!

Seed Bombs for Students

2019, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Holly & Tori, students at Henry G. Izatt (HGI) Middle School in Winnipeg, MB, were concerned about plant diversity, invasive species, and bee populations. They came up with a plan to address all three issues: seed bombs! Their plan includes educating young students at an elementary school before they enter HGI by providing them with seed bombs and a little workshop on how to plant them and what the benefits are.

“This is important for our community because our school has recently placed beehives on the school roof. We are worried that the bees will not have enough pollen to support the ecosystem and their hive. Bees are important to our watershed because they pollinate plants and crops… Planting wildflowers around the community will provide food for the bees to help grow our bee population and raise awareness.”

Biodegradable Sunscreen

2019, Shoal Lake, Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba Biodegradable Sunscreen Implementation

Bailey Ostash and Nadia Nickel are students at Shoal Lake School in Shoal Lake, Manitoba. Living in the Lake Winnipeg Watershed, they became worried about the algal blooms appearing on lakes in the area.


“On a hot sunny day, you are going to the beach. What’s one of the first things you do? Most people, as soon as they get to the beach, put on sunscreen. Then, they go into the water… One of our main concerns is that sunscreen [can be] full of many harmful chemicals that harm our watershed.”

Their solution was to create their own homemade, natural, biodegradable sunscreen. They will educate students in their school and people in their community on ways that they can reduce their impacts on their watershed with simple solutions like eco-friendly sunscreen. They plan to set up at local farmer’s markets and craft shows to spread their message and their product.

“It has been such a rewarding project. [Bailey & Nadia have] inspired me to learn more and get more involved with other groups and activities.” – Benita Shwaluk, Teacher, Shoal Lake School

Cigarette Butt Disposal

cigarette butt disposal implementation2019, The Pas, Manitoba, Canada

Margaret Barbour Collegiate students Blaze Head & Christian Tilling wanted to make their school yard a cleaner place. They looked at the trash on the school property and noticed that, much like many places, the majority of the trash was comprised of cigarette butts. They decided they wanted to do something about it, so they came up with a plan to reduce the amount of cigarette butt waste they were seeing by having a disposal container installed.

“This project will help our environment by reducing the cigarettes and chemicals going into our watershed and contaminating our rivers and ground water.”

A Toothbrush’s Journey

You may not know this, but plastic toothbrushes create major toothaches for our environment.

When student Jenn Fossay from Warren Collegiate in Warren, Manitoba, learnt that plastic toothbrushes take over 400 years to decompose, she knew that she had to come up with a solution.

To raise awareness about the negative effects of plastic toothbrushes on the environment, Jenn wrote and illustrated a children’s book to educate the next generation. The book takes readers through the life-cycle of a toothbrush lost down the storm drain. Once the toothbrush makes its way into the environment, it begins negatively impacting the lives of marine animals. Continue reading

Native Plant Stormwater Garden

Stormwater Garden Chesapeake Bay student action2019, Timonium, Maryland, USA

The Green Club of Ridgely Middle School’s plan for improving the quality of the Chesapeake watershed is growing a stormwater garden that contains plants native to Maryland. The people involved in this proposal are Riya Mahale and Sunny Shen. The garden’s purpose is to absorb some of the runoff that eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. According to National Geographic, runoff is an overflow of water. It occurs when the land is unable to absorb any more water and the excess water runs across the land, eventually ending up in a body of water, like a bay or river. In this case, it is the Chesapeake Bay.

Stormwater Garden Chesapeake Bay student actionUnfortunately, whatever pollutants the runoff contained also ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. This damages the Chesapeake watershed and the ecosystems that rely on it.

This proposal aims to improve the quality of our watershed by reducing the amount of runoff that feeds into the Bay. The garden would be at the base of a hill at Ridgely Middle School where excess  water would collect after rain. There, the plants in the garden would be able to efficiently soak up some of the runoff and the pollutants in it before it reaches the Chesapeake.

Stormwater Garden Chesapeake Bay student action

The garden is going to be completely made up of plants native to Maryland. Having a garden completely compiled of native plants means that there won’t be a risk of invasive plants spreading and harming the native ecosystem. The garden would be able to support those ecosystems native to Maryland. Students at Ridgely Middle would also have exposure to native wildlife. The garden will be quite large, as it will have an area of 100 ft2 and a perimeter of 20 feet.

For a project so beneficial to the watershed and its ecosystems, it is relatively uncostly if one already has a basic set of gardening tools. Because all the plants are native, there is no risk of invasion and native ecosystems are supported. Native stormwater gardens are not only an environmentally conscious and simple way of reducing watershed pollution, but they are also practical, making them a good choice for helping watersheds and the species that rely on them.

Project Nature

2019, Berlin, Maryland, USA

Ten students from Berlin Intermediate School (BIS) (Heydein, Makai, Amber, Shane, Brandon, Brooklyn, Sage, Domnic, Lilah, Declan) created Project Nature in the Spring of 2019. The goal of Project Nature was to assess BIS’ school grounds and implement best management practices to improve their local Coastal Bays’ watershed. After weeks of research, democratically voting, and schoolground surveys, the students decided to undertake a three-part plan.

  1. Plant a pollinator garden to promote native plants and encourage bees, birds, bats, and bugs to use the space.
  2. Revitalize a neglected school trail through pine forest. This trail will be used as an outdoor learning space for teachers to bring their classes. The Project Nature students will clear the trails of common green briar, mulch the pathway, and plant native plants at the entrance.
  3. Plant native trees around the otherwise open school grounds. These trees will provide needed shade and work as absorbers of stormwater runoff from the surrounding impervious surfaces.

Following the completion of their three-part project, students will create flyers to inform their student body and teachers of Project Nature. Their project video is also available for years to come on YouTube, so teachers and parents can view what the 2019 Project Nature students implemented to make their school grounds more environmentally friendly.


OILaway student action Manitoba2019, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Nicholas Kiesman from West Kildonan Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba noticed that there was a lack of awareness in how everyday products such as used motor oil should be safely disposed of. He reached out to a local oil change facility to see what he could do to help.

OILaway student action ManitobaHe partnered with his local Great Canadian Oil Change to put on an event so that people could bring in their used oil and other household products for proper and environmentally safe disposal. He was able to educate community members about disposing of these products any time at drop-off sites such as the Great Canadian Oil Change that he hosted his event at.


“We [will] be able to educate the community on how to properly dispose of used motor oil, and explain to them why taking care of our watershed is so important. While doing this, we have the ability of making sure that the hazardous substances in used oil are not unloaded carelessly into our environment by those who think it’s not a big deal. Because honestly, it is. It’s time that careless thinking stops. It’s time to inspire the community and take action.”

OILaway student action Manitoba