Outstanding Governmental/Governing Body
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 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
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 (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
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!