Clean Water and Sanitation iconLife on Land icon

Schoolyard Rain Garden and Tree Planting

2018, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaSouthern Alberta Rain Garden Implementation

In 2018, Tina Tran of St. James School in Calgary, AB implemented her project “Rain Gardens – How Can They Impact Our Planet?”.  Her goal for the project was to build a healthy rain garden in the schoolyard and educate students on the significant impacts of conserving water to our watershed.  The benefits that Tina identified in researching and implementing her project included reducing the amount of carbon dioxide by allowing for more native vegetation respiration processes to occur, and conserving water by planting water-wise plants to improve soil water retention.  Her and her class planted native tree and shrub species, and incorporated healthy mulch into their schoolyard gardens to inhibit weed growth and decrease the amount of water required in the rain gardens.

From the same class, Ben Trudeau spearheaded his tree planting project throughout the same garden and outdoor classroom space at his school, St. James. 

He also distributed soil high in nutrients throughout these green spaces to allow for more effective growth and fill in some of the gaps throughout the gardens.  Species of shrubs, birch and willow trees were planted, and the increased vegetation is supporting clean air and healthy habitats for local, native wildlife.  The project has also improved the aesthetics and learning opportunities for students engaging in the outdoor classroom.

Clean Water and Sanitation icon

Thirst Measurement Cups

Central Alberta Student Action Project Thirst Measurement Students photo2016, Daysland, Alberta, Canada

Bria Kroetch, Brooke Hochausen, and Alarie Guhle from Daysland Alberta were tired of seeing kids fill up a glass of water to take one sip, then pour the rest down the drain.

After learning about their Battle River Watershed and the regions limited supply of fresh water, the girls decided to try to save drinking water, one cup at a time.  They designed a “thirst measurement cup” to help kids make the connection between their thirst, and how much they should fill their cup.

These three girls did a presentation on watersheds and conserving water to all 250+ students in Thirst Measurement Cups stuident action project central albertatheir school. After the presentation, they handed out the cups to all students in grades 1-6.

The cup will not only help students save water on a daily basis, but also embed a habit of water conservation. The goal went beyond saving just the water in the cup, it was also to get students thinking about how they use water, and how they can conserve it.  Homes and the school in Daysland should now be seeing lots of water being saved, in the cup and beyond!

The cup has 4 measurement lines indicating “Almost Quenched”, “Just need a drink”, “Thirsty”, and “Dry as Dust”.

Quality Education iconClean Water and Sanitation iconLife on Land icon

LIFE (Lacombe Irrigation Foods Experiment) & Beewise

2016, Lacombe, Alberta, CanadaLife & BeeWise school greenhouse aquaponics system and outdoor gardens central alberta

Lacombe Composite High School has an active agriculture class and eco team, which have resulted in an amazing school greenhouse, aquaponics system and outdoor gardens.

One of the challenges that many schools face is having their gardens watered in the summer months when students are away.

The other challenge is watering the gardens efficiently to save water, while helping the plants grow.

Rachel Reitsma and Avy Lamb, students in the LEAFS initiatve, decided to conquor both Life & BeeWise native pollinator home outdoor gardens central albertachallenges by installing a drip irrigation system in their gardens. The irrigation tube (shown left) is dug into the soil to water the plant’s roots while minimizing the rate of evaporation. The system could also be set on a timer to water regullary, with options to delay watering if there is significant rainfall.

The other cool project implemented at the school this year is a Beewise- a home for native pollinators. Pollinators such as bees are facing a drastic decline in their population. This can harm the plants, including our food, which rely on pollinators.

This Beewise pollinator home provides much needed habitat, while ensuring the school’s gardens get the pollination they need.

Clean Water and Sanitation iconResponsible Consumption iconLife Below Water icon

Down Cycle

2016, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, CanadaDown cycle student implementation project central alberta

Emily Jackson from Wetaskiwin, Alberta decided that she could help improve the watershed by
reducing the amount of disposable water bottles used at her school.

Her Caring for our Watersheds project involved installing a water-bottle fill-up station in the main foyer of the Wetaskiwin Composite Highschool. Not only that, but she worked with the student council to sell reusable water bottles and post information about reducing waste and the benefits of reusable bottles next to the station.

Emily is happy to leave this legacy of down cycling at her school as she heads off to university.

“Down Cycling”, which is to use less, is even better then recycling, which still uses a lot of energy and resources.


Quality Education iconLife on Land icon

Accommodating Biodiversity in Our Watershed

2016, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2016 marked the third time Simran Panesar had entererd into the Caring for our accommodating biodiversity student planting central albertaWatersheds program, and the third time she was in the final competition.

Building on projects she had done in the past, in 2016 Simran wanted to incorporate tree planting and improving biodiversity at her new school, W.P. Wagner.

Her project was two parts, planting trees and putting up bird houses in the schools yard, which is part of the Mill Creek watershed.

To get help with the tree planting, Simran invited grade 6 students (who learn about trees and forests in their science curriculum) from her old school, A. Blair McPherson. The class was treated to a full day of activities including a pizza lunch, a leaf based art project, playing a biodiversity game, and finally, participating in planting trees.

The community organization Roots for Trees helped source the 45 trees, brought the equipment, and helped teach the students how to plant. The trees were a mix of native trees including Saskatoon, Lodgepole Pine, and Red Osier dogwood.
The bird houses have also been installed and are bringing more biodiversity to the school.

Clean Water and Sanitation icon

Save The Trees, Use The Trees

2016 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Save The Trees, Use The Trees - Calgary Alberta Canada
The 2016 first place winners in Southern Alberta’s Caring For Our Watersheds competition were Centennial High School students Kaylee Nishizawa, Rebecca McCollister and Nicole Stringham, with their project “Save The Trees, Use The Trees”

These students were concerned about water conservation and the use of herbicides and pesticides in their community. When researching these issues, the students became interested in the use of mulch on gardens and flowerbeds. Mulch helps inhibit weed growth, retain soil moisture and prevents frost heaving and soil temperature fluctuations. Armed with information on the benefits of using mulch, the students organized a “Community Mulch Day”, where residents could come to the local community centre between 10:00 and 2:00 to pick up free mulch to use on their gardens and flowerbeds.

Save The Trees, Use The Trees - Calgary Alberta Canada

To encourage people within their community to take advantage of the fee mulch, the students distributed thousands of flyers to residents in their South Calgary community, informing them of the event and of the benefits of using mulch in their yards.

The “Community Mulch Day” was a huge success! Hundreds of citizens came to the Mid Sun Community Centre to pick up free mulch, provided by The City of Calgary. The students were there to provide information on the benefits of using mulch, and to help people load the mulch into their vehicles.

This project was made possible by a number of sponsors, including: Caring for Our Watersheds, The City of Calgary Parks, Greengate Garden Centers, atr and the Mid-Sun Community Association.

Clean Water and Sanitation iconLife Below Water icon

Microplastics Exchange

2016, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

In 2017, Madeline Yeomans of Dr. E.P. Scarlett School in Calgary implemented her project southern alberta microplastics exchange student implementation“Microplastics, Macroproblem”. Madeline was concerned about the amount of microbeads and microplastics in consumer products and the impact this is having on our watershed.

In an effort to combat this issue, Madeline held a “Microplastics Exchange” and information session at her school. Madeline advertised this event through her school to inform fellow students and teachers that the exchange would be taking place. For a one week period, students were encouraged to bring in products containing microbeads to exchange them for microbead-free products and receive education regarding the harmful effect of microbeads on the local watershed.

Microbeads are commonly used as exfoliants in facial cleansers and other skin products, yet these minute pieces of plastic do not dissolve in the watershed. These beads move through waste water filtration systems and are ingested by a number of marine organisms.

The Microplastics Exchange event at Dr. E.P. Scarlett School was a huge success and more than one hundred products containing microbeads were exchanged for eco-friendly equivalents.

Quality Education iconLife on Land icon

Pollinators for the Watershed

2015 Bawlf, Alberta, Canada
Pollinators for the Watershed Bookmark1
Leah Marshall, grade 11 student from Bawlf School, grew up on a farm in the country and had seen a lot of the native forests and grassland be removed for increasing agricultural land. When the Marshall’s started beekeeping as a new hobby, Leah learned more about the threats to pollinators, such as decreasing habitat and wanted to do something to help. Her idea was to encourage students to plant small flower gardens that would provide homes and food for pollinators. In her words:

“The premise of this project revolves around making a plausible and realistic difference in recovering the populations of local wild pollinators (primarily bees). We plan on doing this via both the distribution of perennial wild flower seed packets and the education of our youth in this major issue that impacts us as humans immensely”.Pollinators for the Watershed Bookmark2

Leah decided to focus on getting the word and the seed packets to grade 7 students who had a biodiversity unit in their science curriculum. She contacted grade 7 teachers across the Battle River Watershed to ask them to teach their students about local pollinators, and in exchange would mail a class set of seed packages. Each seed package had an informational brochure so that the students could learn more about the project and pollinators. Leah sent out 500 seed packages, the flowers of which are now popping up across the watershed!

Clean Water and Sanitation iconLife on Land icon

Get a Tweet on This: Greening Golf Courses with Birdhouses

2015 Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
Girls with a birdhouse
Avid golfers, Mina and Brooklyn from Ponoka were worried about what effects pesticides sprayed on the course would have on their watershed. As part of their Caring for our Watershed project proposal, they researched the effects of pesticides and solutions to reduce them. They found that birds are natural insecticides, eating many of the pesky insects that golfers dislike.

To build awareness of this topic the girls were present at the golf course spa event to give away Finished product - birdhousesinformation cue cards, cash wash coupons and natural beauty products. They also held a draw for a bird house. They hoped that the information and products would help people become more aware of what they use at home.

With help from local businesses and family, Mina and Brooklyn built 75 bird houses to put up at the two local golf courses (one house at each of the 55 holes plus extra) to encourage the natural reduction of unwanted insects.  The golf courses were happy to be involved and support these young stewards. Mina and Brooklyn are happy to see their ideas in action and look forward to enjoying a round of golf with more beautiful birds on the course, and less pesticides in their watershed.


Life on Land icon

Save the Bees

2015 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The 2015 first place winner in Southern Alberta’s Caring For Our Watersheds competition were Vicky Brandt, Rebecca Kroeker and Jaime Grassmick from Centennial High School, with their project “Save The Bees”.wild seed package 1

These students were concerned about the decline of pollinators in our watershed, and the impact fewer pollinators may have on the native flora contained in the Bow River watershed. Passionate about educating their community, these students designed a brochure outlining why pollinator populations are in decline, why pollinators are important, and ways in which people can encourage pollinators in their yards (plant bee-friendly flowers, make a DIY bee bath etc.). To encourage people within their community to plant bee-friendly flowers, students provided free packs of native wildflower seeds (coneflower, lupine and gaillardia) with the educational brochures and passed them out in schools, garden centers and to their community at large.

Not only did these students teach members of their community about the local watershed and the importance of pollinators, they were able to educate students and teachers within Centennial High School about environmental stewardship and healthy watersheds.

Through this educational initiative, Vicky, Rebecca and Jaime passed out hundreds of brochures and native wildflower seed packs, informing people about the importance of pollinators and encouraging people to make their yards “pollinator-friendly”.