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Do Something Sweet for the Environment

2022-2023, Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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Family standing around outside table with cutup stumps on it
Sadie from Rocky Mountain High School addressed the loss of native bees in Northern Colorado by handing out bee hotels for solitary bees to nest in. Solitary bees make up 90% of Colorado’s native bee population, which has decreased by 30%. Solitary bees pollinate native plants and help to keep Colorado’s ecosystem healthy, but they have experienced a loss of habitat due to urbanization. Bee hotels help to provide a habitat for solitary bees and help to educate people on how to be aware of native bees. Reclaimed wood from the National Forest Service was used to create the hotels. Seventy-five bee hotels were handed out around Northern Colorado to people who live as far as Grand Junction. This solution addressed Target 15.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Brush Off Invaders

2023, Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada
Students looking at project board mounted outside
Cassy and Emmett were concerned about the presence of invasive plants in their watershed, so they came up with the idea of boot brush stations. Since invasive plant species can get onto the shoe’s of hikers, a boot brush can stop the spread into different areas. A benefit from these stations is that native plants will continue to thrive in the environment, and parks will have more management against invasives.

Their project targeted the Sustainable Development Goals #6 Clean Water and Sanitation (6.6), #14 Life Below Water (14.1, 14.2), and #15 Life Above Water (15.1, 15.5, 15.8).

They started with building stations to install into parks around their county and city with the help of their class. A sign is attached to each station with information on invasives and why it is important to use these stations before going onto a trail. Cassy and Emmett were able to work with their local municipalities to get permission to put their stations in 4 parks. They even donated a few to their local watershed group.

Students standing by project board

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Trees & Beads

2023, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Two students standing by project on table
Taylor and Kyptin raised money for tree planting by selling jewelry. They wanted to give people an opportunity to participate in something beneficial for the environment. Their goal was to expand awareness by encouraging others to share their platform. With each purchase made they would donate to a local tree planting group. They advertised their product on a variety of social media channels, on a local radio station, and with schools.

The Sustainable Development Goals they focused on were #6 Clean Water and Sanitation, #13 Climate Action, #15 Life on Land, and #17 Partnerships for the Goal.

They partnered with Trees Canada and were able to get 125 trees planted by May 2023. Some future partnerships they want to make were with AWES, 2 Billion Trees program, and Trees for Life. All profits that are made will go towards the donation. They have been able to start a sustainable business that helps the community and environment.

wrists with bracelets on them

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Willow Staking

2023, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
group of students by river
Jade’s project was on reducing erosion of riverbanks after seeing the consequences of flooding in the Bow River. They decided on willow staking along banks that have little to no vegetation. Willows can survive in wet environments and their root system can prevent erosion while filtering pollutants. Some of the other benefits to their project is improving biodiversity and providing habitat and food for wildlife.

The Sustainable Development Goals Jade focused on were #6 Clean Water and Sanitation, #13 Climate Action, #14 Life Below Water, and #15 Life on Land.

They partnered with Friends of Fish Creek to learn how to properly willow stake. There was a call for volunteers and funding from the community to be able to complete this project. Jade chose a location with little vegetation and where other projects had already been implemented to ensure better results. Her target was to plant 100 stakes along 50m of stream bank. With the help of the volunteers, she was able to complete their first planting.


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Bat Boxes

2023, Claresholm, Alberta, Canada
logo of bat box

Mary-Ann wanted to increase the population of bats residing in her town, so she built bat boxes. With human populations growing and taking away natural habitat for bats, they have limited options. Bat boxes provide a place to roost and provide protection from predators and the elements. Mary-Ann designed a three-chamber bat box to provide room for larger colonies. The benefit of having more bats in the area is decreased insect populations without having to use harmful chemicals. They wanted to educate the community about the importance of bats by leaving posters with information

Their Sustainable Development Goal was #15 Life on Land.

Mary-Ann approached her local councilors about her project to get permission for putting bat boxes in the community. With the approval of the council, they put boxes up in local parks and campgrounds. They also got the help of their construction teacher and students to help build the boxes. A bat box building club has been formed in their school because of this project.

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Water: It’s Worth a Dam!


Natalie from Rocky Mountain High School addressed poor water quality from the ash and floods from the Cameron Peak Fire. To address this issue, Natalie created a man-made beaver dam in the Cache la Poudre watershed. For the last three years, black and murky water has traveled down the Poudre River negatively impacting 330,000 citizens who rely on the watershed for drinking water and other uses. Additionally, there are not enough beavers in the Poudre to build dams that reduce flooding and settle the ash. Therefore, Natalie implemented a man-made beaver dam analog (BDA) in the Lile Beaver Creek burned watershed. She wove together natural materials like willows, evergreens, and wood to make the dam. As a result, the stream widened by 1.5 feet and the water slowed. The stream got deeper by 0.5 feet above the dam and started settling the sediment. This solution addressed Targets 6.1 and 6.6 of the Sustainable Development Goals.


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Our Environment is in Danger but we have an un-bee-lievable solution


Zoe and Haylie from Rocky Mountain High School addressed plastic waste during lunch by educating young students on the effects of plastic in their watershed and teaching them ways to be more environmentally friendly like using reusable beeswax lunch bags. Many people pack their lunch in a plastic bag that takes 1,000 years to decompose. Plastic can affect our drinking water, animal habitats, and our food for longer than you can imagine. The kids in Ms. Johnson’s 4th-grade class were excited to participate in the activity and presentation Haylie and Zoe brought. Beeswax wraps were handed out to encourage the kids to use them and tell their friends and family about them. Their hope is for these kids to be inspired to make a change against pollution in their environment. This solution addressed Targets 14.1 and 11.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals.


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Thrifty Tote Bags


Lida, a student at Greeley West High School, tackled the pressing issue of plastic pollution by designing and producing reusable shopping bags. After discovering the alarming statistic that 92 million tons of clothing find their way into landfills worldwide each year, she was inspired to make a difference. Lida took a creative approach by repurposing used shirts into tote bags, which she distributed to her peers and members of the local community. Each bag included an informative tutorial, enabling recipients to understand the gravity of the issue and learn how to create their own upcycled bags. By empowering others to participate in this sustainable solution, Lida aims to contribute to the improvement of their local watershed. Her initiative not only helps reduce plastic waste but also promotes awareness and encourages others to take similar actions in their daily lives. This solution contributed to Targets 14.1 and 15.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals.



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eDNA and The Northern Redbelly Dace


Anya and Taryn from Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools addressed aquatic wildlife conservation by using environmental DNA (eDNA). Our local Colorado Watersheds have been struggling with biodiversity for many years. This has caused a very important species of dace, The Northern Redbelly Dace, to become an endangered species in Colorado. Anya and Taryn have been working with their team in order to reintroduce this species of fish into the Colorado waterways. Their project was to look at how successful their previous releases have been by using eDNA. This solution addressed Targets 14.a and 13.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.


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The Hole Picture


Callen from Rocky Mountain High School addressed water use and polluted runoff by providing a soil moisture sensor to a golf course. Over 2 billion gallons of water are dumped onto golf courses in the United States each year. In addition to that, most of them are overwatered which creates excess runoff that carries fertilizers into the watershed creating algae blooms. A great way to stop the issue of overwatering is utilizing a soil moisture sensor. The sensor measures how much water is in the soil. These readings can help a golf course adjust the amount of water they are putting on the grass. This solution addressed targets 6.3 and 14.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals.