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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Informative Watershed Video Game

2021, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Chinemerem Chigbo, a student at Miles Macdonell Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba, wanted to create a fun and interactive way to learn about his watershed. He decided to create a video game to help educate students about the Lake Winnipeg Watershed.

“Throughout this journey, I have learned a lot about watersheds, done plenty of research as to what makes a great game, and have remolded my original idea into what it is today.”


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Unmasking the Truth

2021, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Victoria Gordon Pagard from West Kildonan Collegiate in Winnipeg, MB noticed the increased amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) waste that was popping up in her community, particularly at her school where masks had become mandatory during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Single-use plastics are used so often, but not much thought goes into what happens to that plastic once it has served its purpose.”

She noted that the City of Winnipeg had encouraged people to throw disposable masks in the garbage instead of the recycling so that they would not get caught in machinery or pose health risks to recycling employees.

“My proposal works to address this situation and offer a solution that is both sustainable and safe!”

Victoria ordered TerraCycle PPE recycling boxes to have around her school to help safely dispose of used PPE during the pandemic. Even after the pandemic, these boxes will be helpful in science labs around the school. TerraCycle also offers other recycling boxes for items such as art supplies, coffee capsules, and markers which could be utilized by the school, as well.

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A Day in the Life of Netly-Libau Marsh – A Documentary

2021, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Xavier Schneider, a student at Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School, wanted to create an educational resource to teach Manitoba students about the importance of the Netley-Libau marsh that borders Lake Winnipeg. He decided to create a documentary to not only educate people, but to take them there on a virtual “visit”, as well. This resource can be used by students, teachers, and anyone who wishes to learn more about the importance that this vast wetland holds for the Lake Winnipeg watershed.

“Located at the mouth of the Red River and the south end of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, Netly-Libau Marsh is one of the largest and most important coastal wetlands in North America. This is its story.”



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Switching to Biodegradable Bags

2021, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

When Katelyn Panchoo from École Seven Oaks Middle School in Winnipeg, MB interviewed students at her school, she found out that many of them pick up their dog’s waste using regular plastic bags. She thought about all the plastic waste that must be thrown in the trash, and thought that she could help reduce it by proposing biodegradable dog bags!

“Dog waste and dog bags have a bigger impact on our watersheds than you think.”

She created a virtual presentation about the way that dog waste and plastic dog bags can impact her watershed that her school mates were able to watch online, and then samples of the biodegradable bags were distributed to students with pets at home. Katelyn hopes that these students and their families will make the permanent switch to these eco-friendly bags and encourage others to do so, as well!


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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.”