Author Archives: Chloe Sprecker

Life on Land icon

Purple Martin Towers

2022, Herndon, Virginia, USA

We are the Herndon Elementary School Bee’s Green Team! In 2022 we won 1st place in the Chesapeake Bay Caring for Our watershed contest with our project, “Purple Martin Project” and we installed 2 purple martin towers on our school property with funding from this competition. Why? This bird species has been declining and plays a vital role in improving the biodiversity of ecosystems in our community and around the world.

Now, we are expanding our idea to help others build Purple Martin Towers in their communities in order to help the Purple Martins thrive there. As the international idea for the 2022-23 school year, Purple Martin towers will be installed in each CFW region internationally! We are excited to continue to work as a school, and throughout other schools along the Purple Martin’s migratory path, to manage and monitor the tower and species with a bird watching area.

Check out our demonstration of setting up and cleaning out your purple martin towers here:

Legacy Story – Standing for Tomorrow

From student-action project to state legislation! Learn how Caring for Our Watersheds has left a lasting legacy for this group of students from Virginia.

Caring for Our Watersheds Named United Nations SDG Good Practice Partner

The United Nations named Caring for Our Watersheds as an SDG Good Practice Partner for theprogram’s contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were adopted in 2015 and act as a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to achieve a more sustainable future for all. Each Caring for Our Watershed project implementation aligns with one or more SDG, contributing to achieving the goals by the set year of 2030.


The SDG Good Practices acknowledges inspiring breakthroughs and success stories to highlight examples of good practices, including those that could be replicated or scaled-up by others across the globe.

Nutrien’s 2021 Program Coordinator Chloe Sprecker shared her excitement, “I am extremely proud of the efforts made by participating schools, students, volunteers and program partners, their ideas and efforts have paved the way for our involvement and commitment to contributing to the SDGs.” Adding, “we are honored to receive this acknowledgement from the United Nations and to be part of a program that is making an impact across the globe.”

The Caring for Our Watersheds program will continue to work and contribute to meeting the United Nations SDG targets to help make a difference and reach a sustainable future.



Life on Land icon

Supporting Wild Canadian Bees

2021, Calgary, AB, Canada

Protecting our native bee population is something that can have lasting positive effects on our way of life, and no one knows this better than Aisling, a grade 9 student at St. James School in Calgary, Alberta. Aisling had a growing concern for the local bees and pollinators in her schoolyard after realizing that bee habitat was lacking. This inspired her project to create biodiverse pollinator gardens at her school, to complement the existing bee hotels and native gardens.

While pollinator garden projects were started at St. James School in the past, Aisling was determined to improve them by planting various native wildflower species to attract local bees and other effective pollinators. In doing so, these bees would have healthy habitat to live in and pollinate, and, with a bit of luck, allowing their population to grow. She and her fellow students hope that the increase in pollinator habitat and populations will have a positive impact on the natural areas in her school and community.  These environmentally conscientious initiatives will subsequently benefit the greater watershed, and improve life on land for all.

Climate Action icon

Pathways to Save our Natural Areas

2021, Calgary, AB, Canada

In 2021, Christian, a grade 9 student at St. James School in Calgary, Alberta noticed that the naturalized areas at his school were being damaged by young children playing in and running through them, and he realized that the low-lying plants in these areas would die unless something was done.

Christian understood that the natural areas in his school and community help combat climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and therefore they needed protection. Christian decided to spring into action with his project to install stone pathways throughout these natural areas to prevent further damage by the younger students at his school. In doing so, these areas would have marked pathways so that kids can continue to enjoy the space while also protecting the growing flowers and shrubs. St. James School supported his project fully, and working with his fellow students and teachers, Christian and his classmates successfully installed various stone pathways throughout their schoolyard gardens.

Climate Action iconLife on Land icon

Fast-Growing Dense Mini Forest

2021, Calgary, AB, Canada

When Will, a grade 9 student from St. James School in Calgary, Alberta learned that road transportation produces a majority of CO2 emissions in Canada, he decided to take action with his “Fast-Growing Dense Mini Forest” project. Noticing that his school lacked natural green space, and acknowledging his school’s proximity to two major highways, Will proposed a plan to improve his school’s native gardens by planting more fast-growing and resilient trees and shrubs to help combat CO2 emissions while also restoring biodiversity.

Will’s research into these miniature forests showed that they can grow 10 times faster and become 30 times denser than a traditionally planted forest. Additionally, these mini-forests can absorb significantly more carbon while creating prime, natural habitat that could attract hundreds of wildlife species. With this in mind, Will proposed the planting of dozens of tree and shrub saplings in a small area of his school yard in an effort to fight climate change and improve life on land.

His project gained outstanding support from his school and community. St. James School is a long-time CFOW participant that have spearheaded multiple initiatives, including running their own composting program (which is being enhanced to involve more students). Will and many of his fellow classmates began to take action. Students have already planted over 100 tree saplings and seeds in their school yard, and have been watering, weeding, replacing mulch, and repairing their natural area in hopes to establish their very own miniature urban forest. Will’s project has allowed his community to learn more about their environment and watershed, and they hope to inspire more schools to follow suit and plant more native vegetation in their schoolyard to support our urban ecosystems.

Climate Action iconLife on Land icon

Mountain Bluebird Bird Boxes

2021, Calgary, AB, Canada

Jessica, Sage, and Zoee, grade 8 students from Cardston Junior High School in Cardston, Alberta looked to help bird populations in their community, their county, and the Oldman Watershed.  After speaking with Parks Canada, they researched a lesser known native species, the Mountain Bluebird, which relies upon the Oldman Watershed in the area.  These small, colourful birds are declining due to habitat loss and increase competition with other birds like sparrows and starlings.  Jessica, Safe, and Zoee decided to take action by working with the Mountain Bluebird Trails Conservation Society in Lethbridge, and planning, building, and donating wooden bird boxes to help some of these birds.

Jessica, Sage, and Zoee worked with a local hardware store to prepare the materials, and educated their classmates on native bird species throughout the process.  They garnered the support of their teacher, principal, siblings, and parents in the school community to help out with various aspects of the project, such as transporting supplies and cutting the wood.  All four grade 8 classes were involved in learning about the bird boxes, as well as assisting with the construction of them.  These three organized everything into kits, taught other students how to construct them, and delivered the bird boxes to the conservation society.  The organization will then install them throughout the area so that they are ready for the birds that may need them for years to come, including the beautiful Mountain Bluebird.

By researching, planning, and fostering interest in this cause, Jessica, Sage, and Zoee hope to help support local bird populations by providing consistent shelter and safe nesting sites, while raising awareness about native bird species and the factors that may be contributing to declining populations.  The whole project – from idea to proposal to implementation – was a fun and engaging learning process that has taught these students to better appreciate efforts to protect and care for our watersheds!

Clean Water and Sanitation iconLife Below Water icon

Water Testing Demo Project

2021, Sacramento, CA, USA

George Washington Carver High School students Ekhman Kahlon and Tess Brown are concerned about the direct and indirect pollution of their local creeks. They are also concerned about the lack of awareness (especially of their peer group) about the importance of water quality and how it can affect the aquatic ecosystem as well as drinking water. They devised a project in which they would test some basic indicators of water quality in 2 local creeks, then discuss their findings through social media. In order to gain the attention of their peer group, the team designed and posted creek-themed memes, then posted about the constituents they tested for and what levels outside the standard range can mean for the health of the creek.  Ekman and Tess themselves learned a lot from the process and hope to get others interested learning more about water quality and the sources of pollutants in our waterways.


No Hunger iconSustainable Cities and Communities iconClimate Action iconLife on Land icon

Vertical Garden Project

2021, Sacramento, CA, USA

When Ella Waite and Mia Andrade from George Washington Carver High School started researching vertical gardens, they were impressed by the myriad of environmental and social benefits they could provide.  For their Caring for Our Watersheds project, Ella and Mia decided to not only build a vertical garden, but to also document the process and share through social media. With this added component, they could more widely demonstrate the benefits of the design and hopefully inspire others to try this type of gardening. As detailed in their proposal, vertical gardens allow people to efficiently utilize the space available in urban environments to provide food, improve air quality, reduce heat-island effects, save energy, and increase biodiversity.

Clean Water and Sanitation iconSustainable Cities and Communities icon

Rain Barrel Project

2021, Sacramento, CA, USA

George Washington Carver High School students Abigail Parayo, John Hixson, Viktoria Neufeld, Antonio Ramirez are concerned about drought in California and wanted to focus their Caring for Our Watersheds project on ways to conserve water at home. As almost half of residential water in CA is used on outdoor landscapes, they decided to install a water barrel at one of the student’s homes. Rainwater would be collected during winter and spring storms and could be used to water plants in the yard during the drier months. The group connected the barrel to the existing rainspout using an adapter kit and built a stand for the rain barrel to help gravity feed water through a hose to reach further plants.  This project allowed them to get one step further toward their water conservation goals, gave them some basic construction experience, and allowed them to safely complete an outdoor project at home during COVID-19.