Author Archives: Holly Pousett

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It’s Bloody Brilliant!

2020, Warren, MB, CANADA
brilliant ways to improve watershed
Hannah Friesen from Warren, MB decided to tackle the issue of the impact that disposable menstrual products are having on our environment. How could she get people to change the products they use? It’s difficult to sway people from what they are used to, so she came up with the idea to add environmentally friendly period products into her school’s Health program. Cloth pads, leak-proof underwear, biodegradable tampons, and menstrual cups were added to a kit that teachers can use to educate their students on these eco-friendly options before they get used to the more harmful disposable ones.

“I want people to know that there are other options that would help our environment and keep our watershed and landfills free of the pollution from these products.”

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Suck It Up, Sip Sensibly!

2020, Winnipeg, MB, CANADA
Tess from West Kildonan Collegiate in Winnipeg, MB was so passionate about reducing the use of plastic straws in our environment, that she distributed 1000 reusable straws to her classmates! She created educational presentations to deliver to classes at her school about negative effects of plastic straws, and had students post on social media with their new metal straws.

“Our entire planet is suffering, and it is time to stand up and do something about it. You can make a difference, you can be the change, you can use a metal straw.”

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Carman Bike Racks

2020, Carman, MB, CANADA

Bike Rack

Ahmed, Colton, Gene, & Dorian are students from Carman, MB who wanted to take action on air pollution in their community. They thought that if there were more bike racks in their town, it might encourage more people to ride their bikes instead of driving. To start, they had a new bike rack installed at their school, and they plan to encourage students to have walk or bike-to-school days.

“Our project is on air pollution, and our goal is to make more bike stands so more people will walk and bike to reduce air pollution.”

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When a pair of middle-school students from Edmonton, Alberta learned about the troubles with water quality facing their local watershed, they knew now was the time to take charge. Anny Singh & Chrisle Petierre thoughtfully researched what steps they could take to help improve water quality, and stumbled upon some facts about the impacts of soap and detergents on water quality that just didn’t sit right with them.

After some research, Anny and Chrisle learned about alternative car washes that use phosphate free soaps to reduce their impact, and wondered how they could do the same. Instead of a car wash soap, the pair has opted to partner with Lakehouse Natural Soap Company to create a hand soap free of phosphates. Their project, titled Rub-a-Dub-Dub, took a unique and innovative approach to a challenging water quality problem.

In order to reduce the amount of phosphates entering the watershed the pair set out to create a product with a passionate message. Not only do these phosphate-free, locally made soaps smell and look great, but they are a great reminder to be mindful of what goes down the drain every time you suds up! This idea came at just the right time, when because of COVID-19 every one was washing their hands more often, this project got people thinking about what they could do to keep their wastewater clean and improve their watershed.

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Spring Clean Up
Soren Skaret and Dana Sych, grade 12 students from central-Alberta, took a long, hard look around their hometown of Hay Lakes and realized that things could be a lot cleaner with just a little help! After researching and learning more about the impacts of litter and waste in the Battle River Watershed where they live, the pair knew it was time to take action!

Dana and Soren showed perseverance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and were able to adapt their plans for a coordinated group spring cleanup to a social media campaign and contest to encourage local families to get outside and pick up trash. Using a boosted Facebook ad the event was promoted to over 2500 local residents, with a dozen taking the lead in the community and participating in the litter pick.

To sweeten the deal, the pair included a prize pack for one lucky clean-up participant. The winner was drawn and received a package filled with Caring for our Watersheds swag! Hay Lakes is looking better already, and with more clean-ups like Soren and Dana’s we’re on track for a healthier watershed for years to come!

Spring Clean Up

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A woman by the name of Margaret Fuller once said “if you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it,” and this sentiment is exactly what inspired the Vegerville Composite High School’s Environmental Club to spring to action when they realized some green spaces on campus were being underutilized.

After taking inspiration from other high schools across Alberta that utilize school-community gardens for student education, Ava, Hailey, Ryan, and Aaron took charge on creating a plan to transform an existing campus courtyard area into a space to enjoy nature and grow food. Not only do the upgrades include ground work; with the combined funding from the Caring For Our Watersheds contest and other sponsors, the club is excited to start construction on an atrium to enclose the area to allow students to enjoy it over the cold Alberta winters!

Not only will the space be a beautiful reminder to take pause and enjoy the watershed we live in, but the addition of a garden will provide agricultural learning opportunities for students- valuable skills for a sustainable future. The Vegerville Composite High School Environmental Club has truly demonstrated how they care for their watershed with this long-term project that will allow students to discover and connect to the natural world for years to come.

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To help raise awareness about the sewage runoff problem facing their community, Aria Schottelkotte decided to write and record a song. After heavy rains, Aria noticed the raw sewage runoff that was going into the local watershed. She noticed that water quality thus decreases dramatically, resulting in parts of the river being closed where there is usually swimming and recreation. Knowing that recreation is one of the best ways for people to get involved with and care about their watershed, when it is prevented from happening, the problem can only get worse.

Aria wrote the song using the instruments she plays, then went to a local recording studio and hired musicians to help fine tune the sound. Once the track was professionally mixed, she uploaded it to Spotify and iTunes so that people could listen to it both within her community and all over the world. With lyrics like “it’s all up to you”, Aria set out to create a change in the Ohio River watershed as well as wherever else her song may be heard.

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Run Off
The Runoff film was important for Brendon Lowry to make because oil runoff is such an important issue, but is not brought up very often. He felt that what is often discussed is air pollution, and wanted to raise more awareness about this other type of pollution. The film he made shows that oil runoff is damaging our watershed.

The film that he did was actually broken up into two sections. The first section of the film was a video about oil runoff, while the second was set up as interviews. He did interviews with several people discussing the importance of addressing oil runoff and asked them if they believed that it was an important issue.

Brendon thought it was very important for consumers to understand the damage caused by oil runoff. The use of motor oil is one of the largest sources of pollution into his watershed and other waterways. Oil is toxic to people, wildlife, and plants. One quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of water. Americans spill 180 million gallons of used motor oil into our nation’s waterways each year. Having clean water is very important to our health and everyone benefits from clean water. We can all help in getting and keeping our watershed clean.

Run Off

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After numerous technology and scheduling issues, the Buzzing with Biodiversity project was a success! The plan was subject to change from the beginning, but the goal of spreading awareness and action throughout the community did not. Thanks to the Caring for our Watersheds project, there in now a widespread knowledge of the importance of pollinators in Wyoming Ohio, and thanks to the project funding, Wyoming is likely to become a hotspot for botanical biodiversity in the upcoming summer and for many summers to come. Multiple unexpected changes were made, but these changes all have one thing in common: they increased the impact and efficiency of the project.

Samuel Mota and Lucas Plante’s plan had always started with education of the importance of pollinators within Wyoming High School, but achieving the goal of widespread action through the school was unexpected. It seemed that everywhere the project was mentioned, people were excited to help. This was consistent from presentation to classroom, however the expected participation from the pamphlet was low. To make sure that all the bee houses and seed packets went to good use and were not wasted, A few bee houses were put in the front of Mrs. Majors’ classroom with seed packets to go with them and a message was written on the board encouraging students to take them home and use them in their own yards. To much surprise, by the end of the day, not only had the bee houses from the board been taken home, but all eighteen that had been brought in were gone.

To see this much participation from the students was astounding and brought about the final change that was made to the plan. It was not expected that all recipients of the pamphlet that was to be handed out would request seed packets, but after so many were given out in the classroom, there were not enough remaining to be able to assure that all of those who requested seed packets would receive them. Subsequently the pamphlet part of the plan was cancelled and taken off the budget. This also solved the problem of having no simple way of being contacted by all who wanted seed packets. The remainder of bee houses will go to those who requested at the presentation, several teachers at Wyoming high school, and Gorman Heritage Farm. The goals of educating the Wyoming community and encouraging action throughout it were achieved.

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Ice melt
Every year 66 million tons of salt are used worldwide to melt ice off of roadways for human use. This salt is contaminating waterways, groundwater, harming animals and aquatic life, and causing stress on flora and fauna. Thus, Sophia and Olivia Dick embarked on a journey to turn to find natural ingredients that would have the same effects as road salt, only with less impact on the environment.

The mixture that they came up with only contains alfalfa meal and used coffee grounds, which naturally lowers the freezing point off water while simultaneously providing traction just like salt. When winter is over, the mixture acts as a natural fertilizer for plants and grass as well. Sophia and Olivia were able to involve their community in creating their ice melt alternative, purchasing their alfalfa meal from a local feed shop and receiving coffee grounds for free from their local coffee shop.

To use their concoction, snow should be cleared off first before dispensing the melt using a kitchen strainer or cup. Sophia and Olivia set up booths throughout their community where they gave out bags of their natural ice melt for free. They made it clear that they intend their project to be used residentially, and if it goes well to potentially be used within their city’s roadways. To encourage their community to make their own ice melt when the original bag runs out, the “recipe” was attached – 3 parts alfalfa for every 2 parts of coffee grounds.