“The CFW competition has been an effective way to deepen student understanding of the local and global environmental issues we face and the complexity involved in addressing them. It empowers students to take action in a way that is both feasible and measurable, providing a unique opportunity to develop engineering, service learning and project management skills. The proposal allows for a large degree of student choice both in the topic and means of addressing the issue, so they are authentically engaged in the research and planning of their project. That level of ownership is fundamental to a meaningful learning experience.”
We’ve said that Caring for Our Watersheds is more than just a classroom assignment, but don’t just take our word for it. Check out what teachers and students have to say about the program, as well as the awards received by Caring for Our Watersheds.
“The benefits are multifaceted and very meaningful. The project gave my curriculum a sharper focus, gave the students real world experience and the cash rewards to the school are providing continued assistance to students.The [Caring for Our Watersheds] watershed project fit perfectly into my grade 8 science curriculum in Ontario. Students in grade 8 in Ontario are expected to learn about the water cycle, and how humans impact water systems in their area.These curricular expectations were seamlessly inserted into a very realistic project. Through producing this project, the students gained experience in reading a variety of texts, writing for a intended audience and purpose, oral presentation, math, and in creating visual presentations. This holistic approach to learning, or integrated learning, is extremely beneficial as it seamlessly draws the students into higher level of thinking skills. They were not simply writing for their teacher, but they were creating for an audience much bigger than the one they were used to in their classroom. This type of real-world experience, is often very hard to artificially create in a classroom.”
“I learned about the [Caring for Our Watersheds] project through our local watershed council. As a teacher, I find that there is not enough time in the year to do project-based learning, however project-based learning is the way of the future and the way that we are supposed to be teaching students. When I found this project, extremely excited to see how well it fit in with the curriculum of our grade 8. I decided to have the students do this watershed project as part of their final grade for our water unit. I had 30 students in my class this year. When I gave them this project, I allowed them to decide what it was they wanted to talk about. I wanted them to research something that meant more to them than just what the textbook told them. I wanted them to be able to look within our own community and area and find problems they thought needed to be fixed. I gave the students two weeks in science class and computer class to complete this project. I have never seen my students actually put so much pride into one project. Although it was something that didn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, all of my students put in quite an effort, because this is a project that hit home for them. They were able to look around our community of Milk River, around their homes, around their farms and see things that they would be able to change themselves. I know that my students put a lot more time and thought into this project than they would have put into studying for a final exam. I know that they were motivated because this was a major mark for them but they were also motivated by the fact that there was a chance to win money. Let’s face it all students like the idea of winning a little cash! I was extremely proud to find out that six of my students made the finals. My students were nervous about speaking in front of the panel of judges in a roomful of other people, however, I think that this experience was amazing for them. The students had completed speeches as well as a PowerPoint that outlined what our watershed is, a problem found here locally, the solution to that problem, and a budget as to what they would need to be able to put this project into place. Out of my six students that made it to the finals, three of them placed in the top three positions. I truly believe the reason for this is because they were allowed to do a project based on something they knew. I would recommend this project to absolutely any teacher in junior high. Not only does it have its science curriculum, but it would also fit under a social current events curriculum. I know from experience that my students have never felt as much success in one school project. Thank you Nutrien for making this happen!”
“My students participated in the Caring for Our Watersheds Contest last year. This was a great experience for all of us! My students really began to see the connection between what they do and how it can impact their watershed and their environment. A few of my students applied for implementation money and they are implementing their projects this year. I love that this contest gives my students real life experience and empowers them to make changes and improve their local community! I will definitely do this contest this year and look forward to it! Thank you, Nutrien and Center for Land Based Learning for giving us this opportunity.”
The “Caring for Our Watersheds” project was the perfect opportunity for an educator to build environmental consciousness, promote higher level thinking and a hands-on experience for middle school students.”
“It was great to see something… that was a very authentic idea being promoted in our building and the learning that came from that project was incredible.”
“This program does something that teachers strive for but rarely achieve: It brings our curriculum to life. And I think you changed lives in the process.”
“Most school assignments are just hypothetical, but this one came to fruition in a big way. I’m very thankful that Mr. Cochrane got us involved with the CFW program because none of this would have happened without that first step. Messages of how important it is to look after the environment surround us, but something like this makes it all that more real.”
“Caring for Our Watersheds allowed me to explore a region of science and conservation that I knew little about at the time. The project itself, along with the understanding that eventually came to me through my participation, gave me a true passion for the environment. I can easily say that the decision the be a part of CFW not only changed the way I view the world and its ecosystems, but it has also driven me to discover and learn more about this immense field of science.”
“My project involved educating homeowners of the benefits of mulch for our environment and ecosystem…the Caring For Our Watershed program enables students to use their creativity to establish solutions that would otherwise be unheard and unseen… It helps students realize the value of community contribution and the significant impact each individual can have….Without a doubt, Caring For Our Watersheds impacts our environment, but equally as important, also the lives of its participants.”
Want to tell us about your experience with Caring for Our Watersheds? Leave a testimonial
The Canadian Wildlife Federation named Nutrien the 2019 recipient of the Youth Mentor Award for its Caring for Our Watersheds (CFW) program.
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.
Nutrien was named a global leader in environmental education by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).
The association gave the company its global-level Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Award in 2015. NAAEE promotes and celebrates environmental education initiatives that teach children and adults how to learn about and investigate their environment – and to make intelligent, informed decisions about how they can take care of it. This award is given annually to individuals and organizations at the local, regional and global levels.
“Teaching younger generations about the importance of good environmental stewardship is a key component of Nutrien’s sustainability programs,” said Leslie O’Donoghue, 2015 Executive Vice President, Corporate Development and Strategy, and Chief Risk Officer. “We are delighted to receive such a prestigious award that recognizes our efforts and successes in this area.”
Nutrien received this award thanks to its Caring for Our Watersheds (CFW) program. CFW asks students to submit a proposal that answers the question, “What can you do to improve your watershed?” Students must research their local watersheds, identify environmental concerns and propose realistic solutions. Community judges select the top entries to compete in a verbal competition and awards are given to participating students and their schools or clubs.
Nutrien also provides implementation funding to help turn the students’ ideas into realistic solutions that help improve our land, water and air. From the programs inception in 2007 to 2015, nearly 12,000 students participated, and implemented over 150 projects with the help from community mentors. As of 2015, about 65 community partners worked together to execute the program and mentor the students across contest locations in Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Australia (2012-2016).
“I absolutely love working with Caring for Our Watersheds program,” says Gwen Roth of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, which nominated Nutrien for the award. “The best part of the program is that students actually receive the help, mentorship and money to make their ideas a reality. It is wonderful to see their happiness and sense of satisfaction when they realize they accomplished something lasting and meaningful.”
Caring for our Watersheds is a leading environmental education program, because it offers real-life experience, while complementing school curriculum, says Lindsey Verhaeghe, 2015 Program Coordinator at Nutrien.
“It brings together the strengths of educations and conservation experts into a joint effort of tangible environmental stewardship,” Lindsey notes. “Moreover, the students build life skills that will help them the rest of their lives.”
Caring for Our Watersheds participated in a local sustainability contest which was organized by Aapresid. Aapresid, Argentina Association of Producers in no-till planting, is a non profit NGO, which is composed of a network of companies and farmers, with the aim of preserving its main resource, the soil.
In 2014, Caring for Our Watersheds was awarded with Special Mention for Environmental Education in the Sustentar award categorie, which recognizes sustainbaility in the Agrifood Systems and is organized by Aapresid, Revisgta Chacra and Agritotal.
The award was received by Matia Salinas, North Division Marketing Manager, at the Aapresid event held in Rosario, Santa Fe province. This is Caring for Our Watersheds first award in Argentina!
If schools are interested in participating they MUST REGISTER THEIR SCHOOL – click here to register.
Volunteer tasks and assignments come in all skill levels and time commitments, such as helping tabulate scores or mentoring contestants. The more people that volunteer, the better this experience will be for the students – click here to register.
Our community partner in California, The Center for Land-Based Learning, was awarded The Partners in Conservation Award from California Department of the Interior in 2014.
The Partners in Conservation Award is a Department of the Interior Honor Award established to recognize conservation achievements that include collaborative activity among a diverse range of entities that may include Federal, State, local and tribal governments, private for-profit and non-profit institutions, other non-governmental entities, and individuals.This award enables the Secretary to acknowledge in one award the contributions of both Interior and non-Interior personnel. Overall, this award recognizes outstanding conservation results that have been produced primarily because of the engagement and contributions of many partners.
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, recognized Sacramento’s Center for Land Based Learning (CLBL) for their exemplary conservation and partnership service. CLBL partners with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Audubon California, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, Nutrien Ltd. and other partners to conserve and enhance habitat for wildlife by promoting a healthy interplay between agriculture and nature. The CLBL was nominated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sacramento Field Office.
“I take pride in knowing that the partnership with CLBL not only helps to accomplish the Service’s mission but that we are also helping to train the next generation of conservation professionals,” explained Karleen Vollherbst, USFWS School Yard Habitat Coordinator.
For a great article on award which also highlights Caring for Our Watersheds, see: http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/kimball-receives-award-on-behalf-of-conservation-partnerships/
Caring for our Watersheds received a second major environmental award in 2011 – the Fred Heal Conservation Award!
Almost all of Nutrien’s Western Canadian operations sit inside the Saskatchewan River Basin, and an advocacy group bent on keeping those waterways clean and healthy just gave Nutrien an award for choosing to be part of the solution.
“What a wonderful honour,” says Lindsey Verhaeghe, 2011 Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations Coordinator. “It is extremely gratifying to be acknowledged by a major environmental organization and to be a part of a program that is making positive changes to the state of our local watershed.”
The Fred Heal Conservation Award recognizes a community, organization or business that has taken direct initiative in preserving and/or enhancing the health of the Saskatchewan River Basin.
“This program is an innovative way to encourage youth to take ownership in their local watersheds,” says Lis Mack, Acting Manager of the Partners for the Saskatchewan River Basin. “These students are our future leaders who are learning early to think ‘out of the box’ to protect our vital water resources.”
Since 1993, the Partners have promoted the stewardship and sustainability of the Saskatchewan River Basin, an international watershed stretching over the three Prairie Provinces and a portion of Montana. Nutrien production facilities that sit inside the basin include Redwater, Fort Saskatchewan, Joffre, Carseland, Calgary and Vanscoy.
Nutrien’s Caring for our Watersheds (CFW) program was the proud recipient of a 2011 Alberta Emerald Award in the Education: Non-Formal category.
“The Emerald Award is like winning an Oscar for environmental stewardship in Alberta. It is a huge accomplishment to win this prestigious award and we are very honoured,” said Lindsey Verhaeghe, 2011 Program Coordinator. “The Caring for our Watersheds program continues to grow thanks to our community partners who are dedicated to mentoring the students on the state of their local watershed.”
Empowering Students to Bring Their Ideas to Life
“The students have incredible ideas on how to improve our local environment and we are committed to helping them make their ideas happen,” added Verhaeghe.
The key to the success of the CFW program relies in taking action after the contest. All students are encouraged to implement their idea. Nutrien offers over $100,000 per year to help students’ ideas become reality.
Good for the Environment = Good for our Communities
“I have seen the spectacular innovation and ideas put forth in Caring for our Watersheds. I strongly believe this contest will be beneficial not only to our environment but to the communities where we operate,” said [former] Nutrien President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Wilson. ”What better way to help grow the next generation but by engaging them and asking for help in seeking solutions in our communities.”
A university student at the ceremonies commented that all of the generations need to work together to take care of our environment and Nutrien couldn’t agree more. By working together we can make a difference.
2011 was the 20th year that the Emerald Awards have taken place.
“Albertans are passionate about balancing the development of this province’s rich resources with environmental stewardship. The Emerald Awards recognize and reward the excellent environmental initiatives undertaken each year.” (Alberta Emerald Foundation, 2011).
- Video showcasing Nutrien’s nomination in the category of Education: Non-Formal
- Congratulatory Letter from Parliament – As word of the Emerald Award spread, accolades for the educational program came in from everywhere.
On Monday, April 18, 2011 Alberta’s Minister of Environment, Honourable Rob Renner, greeted seven Caring for our Watersheds (CFW) winners and their chaperons at the Legislative Building.
The CFW group had the privilege of visiting with Minister Renner in his office. The CFW students were given an opportunity to explain their ideas to Minister Renner and again to MLA Broyce Jacobs.
Later in the afternoon, Minister Renner introduced the Caring for our Watersheds group in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly.