In 2017, Ryan Song of Sir Winston Churchill High School placed 4th overall in the Caring For Our Watersheds competition with their project “Living Wall and Green Area”. Sir Winston Churchill High School was built in 1968 and has undergone very few renovations since then. The school contains very few windows, many of which do not open. Students often complain that the school environmenLiving wall and green areat is stifling, uninspiring and that there is poor air quality. In addition, Ryan felt that there was a general lack of environmental awareness among students at this school.

In an effort to combat these issues, and raise awareness about the local watershed, Ryan and the Sir Winston Churchill Earth Club decided to install a portable green wall, and produce information brochures about unsustainable behaviors that have a negative impact on our watershed. The portability of the green wall means that it can be moved to different classrooms within the school, based on the amount of natural light that is seasonally available in sections of the building.

The living wall and green area is maintained by student volunteers that are members of the Eath Club. Through their continued dedication to this project, and involvement with the CFOW program, these students have taken a vested interest in protecting the watershed and providing knowledge to other students about why the green wall is there and the impact our actions have on native plants and animals in our watershed.



InHawk nesting box in Milk River 2017, Robin Stelten and Brooke Johnston of Erle Rivers High School in Milk River, Alberta implemented their 2015/2016 project “Hawk Nesting Platforms”. Robin and Brooke were concerned about the impact of rodenticides on local raptor populations and wanted to encourage local farmers to decrease the use of rodenticides, instead relying on raptors to control gopher and ground squirrel populations.

When rodenticides are used as a method of pest control, they can often be ingested by predators such as hawks, and be passed up the food chain, leading to bioaccumulation and often death. Second generation rodenticides are widely used in Canada and the USA and are particularly dangerous in the case of accidental ingestion by children, pets and wildlife.

In an effort to encourage raptors to nest in local rural communities, Brooke and Robin enlisted the help of Fortis Alberta to install hawk nesting platforms.  In conjunction with education provided to the local community, Brooke and Robin were able to install six hawk nesting platforms just outside their community of Milk River, Alberta. Since the installation of these platforms, hawks have been seen hunting off two of the platforms. It is hoped that raptors will use these structures to nest during the 2017 nesting season.

As the area around Milk River encompasses the nesting and breeding habitat of ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), a species considered ‘At Risk’ in Alberta, the efforts of these students to increase the local population of this particular raptor species is especially commendable.

Purgin’ Sturgeon

2017, Winnipeg, Manitoba, CanadaPurgin Sturgeon student action implementation project students with canoes

Luke Roffey from Westwood Collegiate is passionate about the creek near his home. “Sturgeon Creek provides vital habitat for many species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish, and it’s a critical piece of nature in an otherwise urbanized landscape.” He proposed an underwater cleanup with his peers using canoes and litter removal equipment.

Purgin Sturgeon student action implementation Luke in canoe“An underwater litter removal project has never been done in Sturgeon Creek before, and judging by the amount of garbage Westwood students remove from the banks of the creek each year, there is likely a lot of garbage under the surface that needs to be cleaned up. Removing garbage from an aquatic ecosystem such as a stream greatly increases the quality of the habitat for wildlife. Gone are hazards that can cause injury and entanglement for animals. Removing floating and submerged garbage will dramatically increase not only the natural beauty of the park, but also the functionality of the ecosystem.

Many people, especially youth, have become very disconnected with the environment, and participating in my project will allow them to reconnect with nature. Canoeing in particular can be very therapeutic, thus by participating in my project students will not only be bettering their local watershed, but also bettering themselves.”

Upon hearing of the project, a local company “Wilderness Supply” offered to loan all of the equipment free of charge. During the cleanup, students engaged with passerby’s explaining their project and the importance to the watershed. It was a great day they now hope to repeat on an annual basis.

Education Lesson Plan

2017, Carman, Manitoba, CanadaHannah and students student action

Hannah Petrie from Carman Collegiate felt there was a lack of education regarding climate change. Given her experience working with kindergarten and Grade 1 students through an internship program, she determined education was the key.

“I believe teaching the young students will promote a lifestyle that contributes to healthy environment, since they are the future. The lesson I create can be taught by other teachers, I would be willing to share the documents and information needed to reiterate the lecture; the lesson does not need to only be delivered by me. Allowing other teachers to have access to my lesson would only benefit the watershed additionally.”

Hannah created her lesson plan and has already delivered it to local elementary students. Teachers are encouraged by Hannah’s enthusiasm and determination for this type of awareness lesson to spread.

Painting – It Comes Naturally

2017, Warren, Manitoba, Canada

paint nite student action

Rebecca Myskiw is a student at Warren Collegiate in Warren, Manitoba. She saw the potential to make a popular trend into an opportunity to educate the people of her community with a fun paint night! Paint nights are becoming something of a trend, but Rebecca’s special paint night had a twist- she had the participants use environmentally friendly paints to keep her watershed healthy! Regular paints include toxins and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can end up in our waterways and environment. Rebecca found Natural Paints that are 100% eco-friendly, containing no toxins or VOCs! She did not stop at a simple paint night, either. Rebecca donated the supplies (paint brushes, easels, extra paint) to her school’s Art Program after the paint night, so that her school could become more watershed-friendly, as well!Rebecca student action

“Natural Paints are an incredible way to care for our watershed. They don’t solve the problem, but they do help stop it. If I can reduce the amount of regular paints used in the school, I can reduce the amount of pollutants going into the watershed and help care for it with a simple idea for everyone.”

Reducing Greenhouse Gases Through Transportation

2017, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Reducing GHGs student action Manitoba

Everyone knows that car emissions pollute our environment, but Kennedy Link from West Kildonan Collegiate in Winnipeg, MB decided she could do something about it! By encouraging students to carpool or bike to school, she could decrease the harmful emissions that would otherwise be emitted by cars used to transport those students. She had new bike racks installed with an incentive program including prizes for biking, and was able to get her principal to offer “carpooling” parking spots at a discounted rate to entice students to use them.

“Carpooling and biking will reduce our school’s carbon footprint immensely, and is a step in the direction of preserving our watersheds. My proposal may seem small, but every person counts and I hope more and more people become involved.”

Slam Poetry

2017, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Breela Bailey Slam Poetry implementation Manitoba

Breela Bailey from Miles Macdonell Collegiate came up with a simple yet effective way to spread awareness of watershed issues to both youth and adults. She decided to write and produce a slam poem about watershed health and create a video to spread awareness.

“The reason there aren’t many changes being made is because the lack of education. Educating people will make a difference on a larger scale. This is sure enough to start off as a local project but we are hoping that once put out to the public it will be all over Canada. We hope this will affect everyone and show what big differences we can make in our own homes.”

Breela, along with a friend who narrated and donated the use of the equipment, put together a powerful video, which is now available for everyone to view on youtube.

Watch the video here:

Water Well Wasted

2017, Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada

MB Water Well Wasted Student Action

Nicole Buckle of Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School in wanted to make a change in her home of Selkirk, Manitoba. An important part of her community is the public swimming pool. Through some testing, she determined that the shower flow rate in the change rooms could be improved by changing all of the showerheads to a low-flow option. This simple change will save thousands of gallons of water every year!

“After switching out the showerheads in the school, and after seeing the positive changes it is making to our watershed, hopefully it will encourage more people to do so in their own homes. Since the pool is so widely used among the community, it is something that will affect a lot of people in Selkirk, all the while helping the watershed.”

Bottles for Our Future

2017, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

students with water filling station

Plastic water bottles are becoming more of a problem every day. Making bottled water uses fossil fuels, wastes energy, costs a lot of money, and creates pollution when the bottles are not properly recycled. Anne Ocampo and Jessica Tran of Garden City Collegiate decided that they wanted to come up with a way to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles ending up in their watershed by finding an alternative. In a high school with around 1500 students and staff, the girls realized there was only one reusable bottle refill station.

“For a growing high school, it becomes difficult to share simply one water refilling station between 1500 students and staff combined. Students are provided with a schedule that sometimes becomes difficult to make time to wait in a long line to refill their water bottles. It sometimes seems hard to access and utilize, and because of that, plastic water bottles have become their companion.”

With the single filling station being located at one end of the school, it was often difficult to get to between classes. The line-ups could be lengthy, and there often just was not time to wait.

“Choosing to use a reusable water bottle over purchasing plastic water bottles is a small change that can contribute to a bigger change. Having a whole community come together and make these changes will bring us one step closer to overcoming a contributing factor to what damages our local watershed.”

Garburating, Not the Green Option We Thought it Was!

2017, Selkirk, Manitoba, Canadagarburating student action

Anna-Marie Svistoun works in the cafeteria at her high school, Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School in Selkirk, MB. She noticed that a lot of food waste was getting into her watershed through the garburator in the cafeteria. Anna-Marie came up with a solution: a strainer to collect more of the solid waste and separate it. The garburator at her school used more water for solid waste disposal than liquids, so to remove some of those solids, she would be decreasing water use. Another benefit to Anna-Marie’s solution is that it takes a lot of the organic waste that would end up in the water system out to be disposed of. A simple solution to an everyday problem!

“My project will have a lasting effect, as over 200 students take the Culinary Arts program in our school. Once my colander is implemented, the students will learn not to use their garburators at home. This will have a lasting impact on my watershed in years to come.”