Saskatchewan

ROBBIE’S RIVER RESCUE

2019, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Renee Lichtenwald-Kraft and Odessa Schlosser of St. George School in Saskatoon created a children’s book that shows a rubber duck named Robbie accidentally getting lost down the bathtub drain. Robbie then experiences going through the water treatment plant. Along his journey he makes a connection with a girl rubber duck named Penny. His owner, Jack, and little sister, Emily, are searching and doing anything they can to find him, and in the end they rescue both Robbie and Penny from the River.

They want to print off 15 books for their school library and classrooms grades 1-3. The girls also want to put one book in each Catholic school in Saskatoon and surrounding areas of Warman, Martensville, and Humboldt. Eventually they would like to put a book in every Public school in Saskatoon as well.

Renee and Odessa are excited to share their knowledge gained through the Caring For Our Watersheds program, especially to the younger classes, as they were not educated on where the water goes after entering the storm drain system when they were younger. They are proud to spread awareness of the water treatment and sanitary sewer drain systems and how they affect the health of our watershed. The girls are already thinking of writing a sequel focusing on storm drains.

The Soda Tap!

2019, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Shaun Vorster of Montgomery School in Saskatoon is concerned with the amount of water wasted from letting a household tap run all day. He has a personal connection to this problem: He was born in South Africa and the country experienced severe drought in 2017-18. The City of Cape Town was on the verge of running out of water completely, so the residents there became very innovative about ways to limit water usage.

Soda Tap Implementation Saskatchewan Canada

Shaun saw an online video of a similar project someone in South Africa had made and decided to create his own Soda Tap in order to save on water consumption in his home here in Saskatoon. It is a 2L soda pop bottle with a hole drilled at the bottom and a plastic tube in the hole. When it is squeezed, water comes out of the tube. When you let go of the bottle, the flow stops. If you want continued flow, you can open the cap. To stop the flow, simply close the cap again. Because the bottle is not pressurized, the flow rate is significantly lower than a normal faucet.

Shaun is hoping to make several Soda Taps to take to the lake, the park, and anywhere a small supply of water is needed. He will be showing others how they can make their own as well. This project shows that personal experiences can often pave the way for meaningful projects. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

No Plastic Is Fantastic

2019, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Rafay Ahmed, Josh Bell, and Saabir Yousuf of Greystone Heights School in Saskatoon were concerned with the amount of single-use plastics contaminating and creating dangers in our environment.

These students planned a community cleanup to reduce the amount of garbage and single-use plastics ending up in our river, and they have planned a single-use plastics phase-out in their school. To eliminate the use of single-use plastics in their school, they created a competition to see which class was bringing the least amount of single-use plastics to school for lunches and snacks. The winning class at the end of the month wins a pizza party. To encourage the elimination of these plastics, the group will be providing paper straws, paper bags, biodegradable utensils, and paper cups for the students in the school to use instead. They have already created a website so that students and others can learn how to phase out the use of plastics at their schools and in their homes.

Rafay, Josh, and Saabir feel that their project is economically feasible, easy to replicate anywhere, and has huge environmental impact potential.

No Plastic is Fantastic SK Implementation Student Action No Plastic is Fantastic SK Implementation Student Action

Tainted Paint

2019, Regina, Saskatchewan, CanadaTainted Paint Implementation SK 1

Abrianna Primavera, Ella Rutera, and Mary Elegino of St. Kateri Tekakwitha School in Regina, Saskatchewan were concerned with paint (and other environmental contaminants) not being properly disposed of. They were alarmed that when paint doesn’t get properly disposed of, it can end up in our water sources. They came up with a plan to make it easier for people to properly dispose of these items, and also to make people aware of the dangers of not disposing of these items properly.

Tainted Paint Implementation SK 2

These girls have already collected numerous paint cans, as well as old nail polish bottles. In addition to placing collection bins for nail polish bottles at Sally Beauty and paint collection bins at 4Cats Art Studio, they have gone door-to-door in their neighbourhood collecting these items to ensure they get disposed of properly.

Abrianna, Ella, and Mary have already seen the impact of their project by collecting old paint cans and nail polish bottles and taking them for proper disposal.

They have also been able to donate paint that is still usable to organizations that can’t afford to purchase such items.

 

Batty for Clean Water

2015 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CanadaBuilding Bat Boxes Batty for CLean Water Student action project

Erin Baril and Hannah Swann from St. Edward School came up with the idea of installing bat boxes at their school and along the Meewasin Trail to encourage the little brown bat population in the City of Saskatoon. The students felt that bats would prey upon insects, especially mosquitoes, and reduce the need for the city to spray insecticides and therefore reduce chemicals from entering our watershed.

Pesticides enter our watershed each summer. Homeowners use pesticides to kill mosquitos, ants, aphids and many other insects on their lawn and gardens. When it rains, these pesticides can be washed from lawns and gardens into storm drains and into our local river. Once pesticides get into our water it can affect the aquatic life and the Bat House Batty for clean water Saskatchewan Student Action Projectquality of our drinking water in the South Saskatchewan River Watershed.

Bats are an important part of our watershed. They prey upon the insects that we use pesticides to control. Bats provide a natural way of controlling insect populations. Many North American bats can eat between 6000-8000 mosquito sized insects in one night!

Erin and Hannah came up with the idea of installing bat boxes at their school and donating bat boxes to Beaver Creek Conservation Area, which has many documented bat sightings. By increasing habitat for the little brown bat, a local species of bat in the Saskatoon area, it meant there would be a reduction in the insect populations in and around Saskatoon. Less insects mean less pesticides being used and a safer and healthier watershed.

The group built bat boxes with their class and developed a curriculum outcome package for teachers to do this activity with younger grades. The curriculum package was circulated around the school so more people can learn about the importance of these intrepid insect eating creatures!

Squeaky Green

2015 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Julia Visentini and Jasmine Thomas from Students making sqeaky green handsoap student action projectSt. Edward School decided to focus their efforts on educating about the harmful effects of triclosan. Trisclosan is a preservative and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent found in many of the hand sanitizers, soaps, shampoos and other PCPs that we use. Studies show that triclosan can interfere with how hormones function in our bodies. It is an endocrine disrupter and can affect the reproductive systems of animals. Triclosan is also found to be very toxic to aquatic animals and can cause long term negative effects on aquatic ecosystems.

When triclosan enters our water ways it can react with other pollutants and form additional harmful compounds like dioxins which is linked to causing cancer in humans. Triclosan doesn’t easily degrade so it can build up in our rivers and lakes after washing down the drain. This means that fish can accumulate this chemical in their bodies over time, potentially becoming harmful to the other animals, including humans along the food chain.Sqeaky Green Hand soap student action project

The students developed 3 triclosan-free organic consumer products: hand sanitizer, hand soap, and shampoo, and shipped out education packages and samples for teachers and students to utilize alternative products that do not include this harmful chemical. The soap contains water, castile soap, olive oil, vitamin E oil and lemon essential oil.

In order to share this information, Julia and Jasmine created a commercial that they showed to classes in their school to inform them about the problem and to share their solutions. They also developed a recipe book so that other students could create their own soaps free from chemicals.

After piloting the Squeaky Green products with their class they wanted to make a bigger impact in Saskatoon. They wanted to get more students across Saskatoon to use triclosan-free products! So, Julia and Jasmine made 40 body product sample packs. Each of these sample packs contained samples for the hand sanitizer, soap, and shampoo and a copy of the Squeaky Green recipe book that detailed how to make them. In November of 2015, these packages went to 40 schools in Saskatoon and encouraged students and teachers to become Squeaky Green and to protect our precious watershed. Students and teachers were able to see for themselves how effective Squeaky Green products are and how easy they are to make (not to mention how good they smell!).

 

Sammy’s Flight Over Our Watersheds

2015 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CanadaSammy's Flight Student Action Project Student Photo

Charlee Urban and Kelsey Thibault from St. Edward School decided that the best way to improve their watershed was by educating and instilling environmental values in the younger generation! By educating and changing the behaviours of our children and youth and developing their relationship with our environment, long term positive environmental effects are achieved.  They feel more connected to their watershed and the natural world, and so they want to work towards protecting it!

The students decided the best way to do this was by developing a colourful children’s book called “Sammy’s Flight over our Watershed.” They hand drew and developed a unique storyline that follows Sammy, a young squirrel, and Callie, his bird friend who explores their watershed and discovers that it Saskatchewan Student Project Sammy's Flight Educational Bookis being impacted by the careless actions of humans.  The story teaches younger grades the importance of taking care of their watersheds. The book provides a number of activities the students can do to improve their watershed such as cleaning up litter, making sure their car is being washed at a car wash, responsibly using chemical fertilizers and herbicides or using alternatives, and not dumping paint or oils down the storm drain.  Charlee and Kelsey read their story to a number of classes in their school and donated the book to their school library to be used as a teaching tool for school teachers in grade 1-3.

Education and awareness are the first steps to improving our local watershed. This books ensures that there are many future water protectors who have learned the importance of our watershed through Sammy’s little journey!

This book is a creative way to educate children on their watershed. It will be a great resource for teachers to use in the classroom because it covers curriculum outcomes, and parents can read it to their children at home. The children’s book was given to daycare centers and classroom teachers in their school division. The school division granted the Charlee and Kelsey permission to implement this project further if given the chance.

World, Water, and We (Community Garden)

2015 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Ruby Hamilton, Emma Eckdahl, Kathryn Guenter and Vanessa Coutu from Caswell Community School have been working with their school to install raised beds of vegetables and herbs to be used for their nutrition room at their school. Caswell School is in the process of installing an outdoor classroom which would include indigenous design elements such as a circular platform with the four cardinal directions. The students decided that it would be Student photo community garden saskatchewan student projectbeneficial to also build some raised beds to be located behind each bench surrounding the circular platform to provide shade for students while they’re learning and food for their nutrition room. The students plan to utilize rain-water for the raised beds in order to reduce wasteful water use.  The raised beds were set to be installed in the summer of 2015.

This garden will benefit their community and province. By using a natural pesticide like lady bugs the students will eliminate the need for pesticide use at the school, thereby helping to reduce chemical runoff into the watershed. The use of composting as a natural soil enhancer will also help to reduce the amount of organic waste that occurs in the school.

The community is very passionate about this idea and will definitely follow through.

I Thought I Saw A Tweety Bird

2015 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Jocelyn Lalach from St. Edward School is passionate about birds and is sharing that passion with others! Birds are an integral part of our watershed. Indeed, without them, many functions that they provide would no longer exist. Jocelyn explored the benefits of healthy bird populations and their benefits to the South Saskatchewan River Watershed such as reducing insect populations and seed transportation in the river valley.

Birds provide many benefits to our local watershed! Through transporting seeds in the river valley, Student winning photo saskatchewan student action projectbirds help new native shrubs grow and root in the riparian area providing wildlife habitat and other ecological services. The riparian area is the zone along river or creek banks close to the water. This zone needs strong and healthy shrubs to help keep pollutants out of our water ways. Plants in the riparian area slow down water and help it infiltrate and filter through soil and root systems before entering our watershed. This process reduces the amount of runoff entering our water ways and helps to prevent pesticides, fertilizers, and other pollutants from entering our watershed.  As an added benefit, these shrubs and their root systems provide structure for the soil along river and creek banks which prevent erosion. Lastly, birds eat insects. The healthier our bird populations in our watershed the more insects they eat and the less pesticides we use to control them ourselves!

Jocelyn developed a curriculum based program called “I Thought I Saw a Tweety Bird” that educates students in grades 2 and 3 about the different types of bird species found in the South Saskatchewan River Basin. She developed a bird unit that is available online here: http://ycojchill.wix.com/birds-unit with all the necessary tools for teachers and students to learn about the importance of birds to their watershed.  Jocelyn has left her website up online for teachers to access the curriculum material.

 

Xeriscaping our School

2015 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Manothri Malikarachichi and Sadie Simpson from Montgomery School focused their project on implementing a xeriscaped landscape at their school as a pilot project to educate students and their community about the benefits of using drought-tolerant plant species in place of conventional water consumptive landscaping techniques.

Xeriscaping has many benefits and helps our local watersheds in a number of ways. By planting with native and drought tolerant plants you are reducing how much outdoor water is used in your home. These plants require much less water than conventional lawn and gardens. Some native and drought Student winner photo xeriscaping our school student action projecttolerant plants only require the intermittent rain that falls through Saskatoon’s summers!

Xeriscaping is also beautiful. It provides pops of colour and beauty rather than the monotonous green patches of conventional lawns. Once a xeriscaped landscape is installed and established, there is little work needed. There is no need for excess watering, the use of pesticides, fertilizers or gas for mowing! All of these inputs on our lawn and gardens impact our watershed because they can wash into our storm drains and into the river harming sensitive aquatic habitat. But, with a xeriscaped garden, this doesn’t happen because those inputs are not needed.

The students worked with their school to install a xeriscaped landscape in their outdoor classroom area. They are hoping to receive neighbourhood support for long term maintenance in partnership with the school.