2020, EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA
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.
2020, VEGERVILLE, ALBERTA, CANADA
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.
2018, RED DEER, ALBERTA, CANADA
Four years before this project, the garbage bins at the two main entrances to Glendale School were torn down by vandals and were never replaced. This led to a lot of unnecessary garbage being dropped on the ground by students eating their snacks and then having no place to put their garbage.
In 2018, a group of students and teachers wanted to make a change on this issue as they could see the harmful effects of all this garbage being blown around. They proposed installing multiple garbage bins in high traffic areas outside of the school so that there would always be a bin close by to properly dispose of any garbage. It was also proposed to add picnic tables and benches at these locations to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors more often.
In the spring of 2019 these dreams became a reality with the purchase and installation of 6 garbage bins, 3 benches, and 11 picnic tables. The amount of people enjoying these spaces has gone up while the amount of litter has gone way down. The simple act of having a garbage bin in sight at every location has encouraged parents and students to use them rather than dropping their garbage on the ground and harming our Red Deer River Watershed.
We want to thank the Caring for Our Watershed sponsors for their contribution to this project. The amount of litter going into the river has gone way down due to the installation of garbage bins in front of our school.
2017, HAY LAKES, ALBERTA, CANADA
Dana Sych and Soren Skaret decided that to help improve their watershed, they would plant green ash trees in their school yard. After much research, the pair decided on Green Ash trees because they grow quickly, require little maintenance, and do well in wet areas but can also survive drought and cold winters- something important in this small Alberta town. They wanted to plant trees in a low spot of the school yard that often is too wet to play in, and becomes a mosquito breeding ground. They thought by planting trees the water could be absorbed, and the trees would have water to drink. Win, win!
The team also made the connection that by adding trees to their school yard, they would be directly helping to improve air quality. They included the younger grades of their school in the tree planting to help educate them about the importance of the environment and taking personal responsibility.
Dana and Soren hope that these trees will be part of their legacy at the school, soaking up the extra water, and providing shade and a wind block to students for years to come.
2017, EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA
Simran Panesar takes tree planting seriously. Since she started in the Caring for our Watersheds contest in grade 8, Simran found new and exciting ways to plant trees, improve biodiversity, and educate youth about their watershed.
In this year’s project, Simran had moved onto high school, but wanted to engage grade 6 students (who have a science unit on trees and forests) students from her junior high school to come get involved. Her implementation took 4 parts:
Part 1: Presentation and Pizza. Grade 6 students from A. Blair McPherson school arrived to W.P. Wagner School where they listened to Simran’s presentation about the event. They were then treated to a pizza party lunch!
Part 2: Art Project: The school’s art teacher helped lead an environmental art project for the grade sixes. They put leaf impressions into clay and made little slabs. These slabs will be fired in a kiln and then compiled into a huge environmental display. This display will be a “contemplation project” and hung up at Wagner.
Part 3: Biodiversity Game. The grade 6 students learned about the importance of biodiversity in the watershed by a game which teaches how different bird beaks adaptations allow them to eat different foods.
Part 4: The final step was the actual tree planting. 45 native trees and shrubs (including Saskatoon, Lodgepole Pine, and Red Osier Dogwood) were planted in the schools yard.
Simran was able to make space for biodiversity at her new school while engaging and educating youth.
“I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to make a positive difference in our world! You have inspired me since the day you came to our school when I was in grade 8 to talk about Caring for Our Watersheds and the experiences I’ve gained from this competition are priceless”. -Simran
2016, Bashaw, Alberta, Canada
Bailie McDonald in Bashaw wanted to help protect her watershed by protecting wetlands. She learned that wetlands are important habitat for lots of animals, help improve water quality, and help store water for dry times.
Bailie wasn’t sure how she could protect a wetland, but knew that Ducks Unlimited did lots of great work in her area, including a site called the Pileated Project near her home.
After discussing her desire to help protect wetlands with her family, Bailie decided that one thing she could do was to bake some yummy treats and host a bake sale at her school. The money she raised could then be donated to Ducks Unlimited to help with their Pileated Project.
The bake sale raised $200 which was then matched with the Caring for our Watersheds implementation funding. She presented the $400 cheque to Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers at a local event.
This project proves that no matter a person’s background skills, they are able to help improve their watershed!
2014 Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
EcoVision is an environmental-based club for students at Lacombe Composite School. EcoVision has built and runs a greenhouse growing fresh herbs and vegetables in a geodesic dome on the school’s property. A sub-committee of this group is called LEAFS- Lacombe Aquaponics Foods System. LEAFS entered the 2014 CFW Contest with its goal is to build an efficient and sustainable aquaponics system in the greenhouse. The system benefits the Battle River watershed by raising awareness about watershed issues, promoting community involvement, and increases the schools ability to grow their own healthy food. The water used in the aquaponics system will be re-used to water the plants in the greenhouse.
LEAFS will raise tilapia and vegetables for their cafeteria and have a license to sell surplus items to the greater community. The LEAFS system will lower the schools ecological footprint by growing their own food and limiting greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and recycling waste water. The school will also benefit from enhanced educational opportunities and collaboration with community members. Lacombe Composite High School will be one of the first schools in Canada to have a running Aquaponics program that supplies its cafeteria with fresh fish and vegetables.
More information can be found on the EcoVison website: www.lchsecovision.weebly.com
2011 Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
Caring for our Watersheds Contest Junior High Winners of 2010: Breanne, Jenna and Rachel wanted to tell a story of the importance of a healthy watershed. After researching the Battle River Watershed they decided that to have the greatest impact they should educate young people, which is exactly what they have done.
2011 Ponoka, Alberta Canada
Kaitlin, Katie, Vickie and Melissa became involved in the Caring for our Watersheds contest as a classroom project at St. Augustine School in Ponoka. Their idea was to create a fun and educational books series for students in grades 2-4 about how their actions impact the watershed and what they can do to help.
The book series is called “Otis and Friends Environmental Adventures” with this premier book titled “The Mystery of Missing Water”. In the story Otis the duck’s pond is drying up due to high levels of water consumption in the nearby town. Luckily a special little girl who likes to walk by the pond notices the low water and her and her family start making changes to their water use. The neighbours take notice of their new habits and soon everyone is conserving water, saving Otis and his friends.
The book also has a fact sheet about the Northern Pintail Duck, who Otis is based on. There is also a list of 8 easy actions that families can take to reduce their water consumption.
The girls visited all of the grade 2-4 classrooms at their school for book readings, and the students all really enjoyed the book. After receiving funds from Nutrien, Keyera and Grey Wooded Forage Association for printing the book, they held a book launch party at their local library. The book has been distributed to all of the Parkland Regional Libraries, as well as through school visits by the Battle River Watershed Alliance.
2008 Strome, Alberta, Canada
Strome Junior High School students Brandon Miller and Briana Dewitz believed people would see the watershed differently when captured through the lens of a camera. Their winning Caring for our Watershed proposal idea was for a photography contest, with the winning photos being used in a calendar they would produce. The pictures were to be entered into and judged on 4 specific categories; watershed wildlife, people in nature, capture the river and the damage.