Conference News Feed

2016 EECOM Awards of Excellence Winners

Outstanding Governmental/Governing Body

Credit Valley Conservation

Credit Valley Conservation

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) re-established an environmental education division in 2007. As one of Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities, Credit Valley Conservation has jurisdiction over about 1,000 square kilometers of land that drain into the Credit River, including much of the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton. Credit Valley Conservation committed to creating an innovative suite of environmental education programs that were lifelong, focused on conservation outcomes and key issues like climate change, and integrated in the diverse communities surrounding the Credit River. In ten years, CVC’s education programs have grown from reaching 255 people in 2007 to over 35,000 in 2015, with a suite of community-based activities delivered in adult education centers, community healthcare providers, settlement agencies, libraries, schools, conservation areas, and city parks. CVC also opened two environmental education centres and has engaged numerous government, school board, corporate, and non-profit partners. The program has a total reach of over 195,000 participants since launch in 2007.

Outstanding K-12 Class/Teacher/School/School District

Natasha Burgess2

Natasha Burgess 

Natasha Burgess is a K-12 teacher who is a leader in influencing positive change through environmental education well beyond her Kindergarten classroom. Since beginning to take her students outside on a regular basis, Natasha noticed improvements in student engagement, confidence, self-regulation, and conflict management. This realization sparked a passion in sharing the amazing benefits of outdoor and environmental learning with others. She is now viewed as a leader in her school, school district and across the learning region. She is on her school district leadership team for environmental education, and is now working hard to support the development of Environmental Education Local Specialist Associations in every zone in her school district. She even wrote a “Greening the Curriculum”, a document that links curriculum expectations to outdoor activities. Natasha’s boundless energy and positive influence extends a great distance.

Outstanding Non-profit Organization

CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter

CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s voice for wilderness. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is one of Canada’s most accomplished environmental non-profit organizations, promoting wilderness conservation through the establishment of new protected areas and effective parks management. The Southern Alberta Chapter, located in Calgary, is dedicated to protecting the ecological integrity and connectivity of the southern Alberta landscape and watersheds, as well as increasing environmental awareness and engagement among Albertans. CPAWS envisages a healthy ecosphere where people experience and respect natural ecosystems. Since 1997, CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter has been successfully delivering award winning multi-visit in-class environmental education and outdoor interpretive hiking programs to youth aged 7-18 in schools in the Calgary and southern Alberta region. Each year, CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter engages thousands of students and their teachers in environmental learning that is linked directly to the Alberta curriculum with a focus on environmental stewardship. Our efforts over the years have combined learning about conservation science with hands-on experience and action. These unique programs have demonstrated a long standing commitment to environmental education in Calgary and the surrounding area.

Outstanding Non-profit Organization

Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador

Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador

Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador (CCNL) is a provincial, charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to providing youth with training and employment in environmental and cultural heritage conservation.

The organization has a threefold mandate:
(1) To work with communities and partners to enhance, restore and sustainably develop the natural and cultural resources of the province.
(2) To help young people gain leadership, teamwork and employment skills.
(3) To develop and promote a strong conservation ethic in Newfoundland and Labrador.

For 23 years, Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador has been focusing on environmental and cultural projects that provide meaningful employment training and strong connections for young people to their communities. These projects encourage youth to be more active in the development and conservation of the local environmental and cultural resources. The foundations of Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador’s core programming – The Green Team program, the Climate Change Education Centre (CCEC), the Internship program and the Environmental & Cultural Hiring Opportunity (ECHO) program – provide substantial contributions in the areas of environmental action and education. To date, CCNL has employed over 2400 youth with over 600 environmental and/or cultural projects partnering with more than 400 community partners!

Outstanding Private Company

ConocoPhillips Canada

ConocoPhillips Canada 

2016 is the 10-year anniversary of the Mud Between My Toes program and over 7500 children, from 74 local schools have had the opportunity to participate, becoming stewards for wetland health and conservation. By the end of 2016, over 10 000 people will have participated in the program. Public awareness of wetland health has increased through the participation of students and parent volunteers, who take valuable information about wetland health back to their communities. Teachers that participate in the program partake in a pre-program in-service session, providing them with knowledge and skills they can carry forward in their teaching careers. Childhood involvement and exposure to natural areas can foster an invaluable sense of wonder, leading to a deep sense of environmental responsibility. Spending time exploring and reflecting in a natural environment gives children a context for learning and creates an environmental ethic of care and stewardship, which are carried into the future. ConocoPhillips Canada has supported the “Mud Between My Toes” program at two different wetland locations for the past ten years. The long-term nature of ConocoPhillips Canada’s support reflects a corporate belief in creating long-term creative solutions for communities and the environment. The ConocoPhillips funded “Mud Between My Toes” program allows students and teachers the opportunity to explore the connection between urban and natural environments and increase their environmental literacy. ConocoPhillips Canada believe an environmentally literate population is essential to making good economic choices as we move forward as a province and a country. “Mud Between My Toes” serves as an effective model for how literacy can be fostered.

Outstanding Youth Leader/Youth-led Organization


Haley Marie Todesco 

Since the age of 10, Hayley has been trying to solve local environmental issues through science fair projects after an environmental documentary ignited her zeal for environmentalism. At 16, this passion led her to tackle the environmental issues surrounding the oil sands in her home province, specifically the oil sands tailings ponds. Through a novel science fair project, she designed an inexpensive set of bioreactors to biodegrade naphthenic acids - the most difficult water pollution in the tailings ponds. After years of troubleshooting and redesigning these naphthenic acid bioreactors, Hayley found that by creating biofilms, the indigenous bacteria she grew were capable of degrading these toxic pollutants at rates 14X faster than normal. A full-scale sustainable implementation of her results could potentially clean up this pollution in decades instead of centuries. For these amazing findings, Hayley was honoured to win the 2014 Google Science Fair, the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize for the world’s top water-related science project, a Manning Innovation Achievement Award, and Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award. In addition to public science fairs and industry events, Hayley has started speaking at national and international youth conferences to raise awareness for tailings bioremediation and to inspire peers with her experiences. Many students attending these conferences have gone on to implement their own environmental conservation and awareness projects in their communities. Hayley’s goal is to help youth realize their potential to address local environmental issues as a way to advance their education while making worthwhile contributions to their communities.

Congratulations to all award winners!

Conference Forecast

Did you see the forecast? To compliment the inevitable rays of hope & sunny ideas that the conference will bring, the official prediction is for sunny skies and warm weather at the International Peace Garden!

Conference Forecast


It's nearly time!

It's nearly time! The Floral Clock at the International Peace Garden will let you know you're on time for the National EE Conference which starts next week. 2,500 flowers, arranged differently every year, are planted around the hands of the clock each spring and let you know the time while the flowers are in bloom!

Floral Clock


Conference: Top 10 things you need to know!

The EECOM 2016 Conference is just a couple weeks away, and we have a wonderful diversity of presenters and participants confirmed from coast to coast to coast. The conference program is shaping up very nicely, and the International Peace Garden is now undertaking final preparations to host this national event. If you are on the fence, please note that it's not too late to register. Register here and join us in the heart of the Turtle Mountains!  Please note that your conference registration includes all meals, carbon offsetting, an annual pass to the International Peace Garden and an EECOM annual membership.

Here are our Top 10 updates & reminders:

1) Accommodations: A friendly reminder that you must book your own accommodations. There are a variety of options available at very affordable rates that can be found on our website by clicking here.

2) Identification: When you enter the International Peace Garden, you are leaving the USA and Canada. To re-enter, Border Services must record information from all identification documents you present.  Passports are not mandatory, but are the only form that can be scanned quickly and efficiently. If you are a USA or CDN citizen, and do not have a passport, you may use a photo ID such as your driver’s license.

3) Cell phones / Internet: There is open wireless internet available in some locations. Cell phone service is very limited but pay phones are available.

4) Transportation: A variety of alternative transportation options are listed on our website here.  We have also started a carpooling list so that you can add your availability to take carpoolers, join an existing driver, or join a carpool waiting list. Click here to access this list.

5) Conference Program: The conference program has been updated with some new sessions and features, and is available on our website by clicking here.

6) Music: We have some incredible musical performances lined up for your enjoyment. We would also encourage you to bring instruments and songsbooks (and voices and enthusiasm!) for informal singing events around a campfire.

7) Children's Programming: Plans are underway to ensure all children ages six to teens will enjoy their time at International Peace Garden. Parents will need to register for the Children’s programming when they pick up their registration(s) on Thursday. Drop off will be at the front of the Conference’s main venue just prior to the start of the day’s programming (8:15 a.m. on both days). Children will re-connect with parents at lunch, and other programming will continue into the afternoon. Please email Garry at if you think you would like to take advantage of this or if you have any questions.

8) Dietary Requirements: If you didn't indicate your dietary requirements on your registration form, please send them to as soon as possible.

9) Payments by Cheque: If you elected to pay by cheque, and have not yet mailed it, please do so asap. Cheques are to be made out to EECOM and are to be mailed to International Peace Garden, c/o Garry Enns, Box 419, Boissevain, MB, R0K 0E0.

10) Friends & Family: Registration is still open, so feel free to encourage your friends, colleagues & family to join you in the heart of the Turtle Mountains! Click here for the registration page.

We look forward to welcoming this incredible community of environmental educators and professionals to the International Peace Garden on August 25th! 


The EECOM 2016 Conference Committee

In the Spotlight: International Peace Garden

The International Peace Garden is a 9.5 km2 park located on the international border between Canada and the United States, in the state of North Dakota and the province of Manitoba. It was established on July 14, 1932, as a symbol of the peaceful relationship between the two nations. The legend "Peace Garden State" was added to vehicle registration plates of North Dakota in 1956, and adopted by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly in 1957 as the official state nickname.

The park lies near the center of the Turtle Mountain plateau. The climate, topography, wildlife, and natural vegetation differ considerably from the surrounding prairies. Wildflowers, pristine lakes and over one hundred species of songbirds are permanent residents of the Peace Garden. The garden is a valued quiet place for photographers to capture nature’s wildlife and beauty in all seasons. The park plants over 150,000 flowers each year. Main features of the garden include a 5.5 m floral clock display, fountains, a chime, and twin 37 m concrete towers straddling the border with a peace chapel at their base. The chapel walls are inscribed with notable quotes about peace. 

The Burdick Perfoming Arts Centre (image below) will be "Centre Stage" to main events at EECOM 2016. Built to showcase performances by teachers, students, and guests at the International Music Camp, the Centre holds over 500 and the stage brings out the best in all who get up to perform. The EECOM Board tested the versatility of the Burdick Centre - and your ability to discern the acronym they created at a Board retreat at the International Peace Garden last November. They came to the Turtle Mountains just after Remembrance Day and brought beautiful weather with them. They have promised to do the same for EECOM 2016 - August 25 to 28.

EECOM on Stage

Click here for a map of the International Peace Garden.

Click here for accommodation options. 

Click here to register for the 2016 National EE Conference at the International Peace Garden.