For Mr. Macleod’s grade six students at Black River Public School in Sutton, participation in the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program became the spark for a much larger cross-curricular, multifaceted action project.
After their visit to Lake St. George Field Centre in January, students were inspired and eager to improve the natural environment at their school. This school was also chosen to be part of a pilot project funded by First Book Publications, BMO and Compugen to support student learning through the use of technology. Through this funding, each student in the class received their very own Chromebook to keep.
Using the overarching theme of “agents of change,” students began their inquiry project by using their laptops to research environmental topics of interest to them. Topics included bats, bees, amphibians, compost, garden, birds, butterflies and polar bears/climate change. In small groups, the students used their laptops to develop an infographic and an interactive slide deck on their topic of interest.
As the knowledge and curiosity of the students grew, so did the depth of their action project. They engaged other students at their school by leading a knowledge-sharing circle with some of the younger grades. They also partnered with another local school that also received technology funding.
Students at both schools met for a day of collaboration to share their presentations and learn how to provide positive and constructive feedback to each other. Students returned to the classroom to polish their presentations in preparation for a special parent information night in May where they had the opportunity to host their families at the school, present their inquiry questions and showcase their work.
In addition to knowledge sharing with fellow students, neighbouring schools and parents, the students were also eager to make use of our Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant to increase the natural habitat in their schoolyard.
Since the school is part of a much larger multi-use complex that includes the local Catholic elementary school and a municipal community centre, the students soon discovered the extent of effort and leadership required to prompt change in their local environment.
They did not shy away from the challenge. With the guidance of their teacher, students attended and presented their plan to the facility’s multi-use steering committee.
With the full support of all parties, the students got the go-ahead to plant a pollinator garden. They also received permission to install bird feeders, bird houses, bat boxes and hummingbird feeders.
The students considered every aspect of their proposal, including the establishment of a partnership with the Town of Georgina to jointly maintain the newly planted gardens. Students also managed to find time to set up a new composting bin and organic waste collection program for the Black River Public School community.
The extensive action project undertaken by Black River Public School is an exceptional example of how natural and environmental science can be successfully embedded in all facets of education and can result in a deeper learning experience for students.
It was clear that the students had a strong grasp of the concepts learned during their participation in the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program and had gained the confidence to apply what they had learned in real-world settings.
It’s hard to image a world where some children never get to experience learning in nature. The Rotary Club of Toronto is helping to make sure more kids enjoy this opportunity, with a $30,000 donation to the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program. Together we’re supporting the next generation of leaders for our communities.
It’s hard to imagine — but for a lot of city kids, actually seeing stars in the night sky is a new experience. With the generous support of Cadillac Fairview, the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program at Toronto and Region Conservation is making sure that more youngsters have this opportunity. Together we’re fostering a new generation of dedicated environmental stewards.
Our sincere thanks to the team at Cadillac Fairview — we couldn’t do it without you!
The newly released 2015 year-in-review report from Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow shows that this innovative program is making real headway when it comes to helping young people commit to reducing their ecological impact.
More than 3,000 grade 6 students across the Ontario took part in the program last year — and of those, some 76% succeeded in decreasing their personal environmental impact.
Managed by Toronto and Region Conservation through the Living City Foundation, Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow uses science-based programming, outdoor recreation and team-building activities to help students connect to nature and develop the skills to take environmental action in their homes, schools and communities.
In the course of 2015, the program engaged 121 grade 6 classes from 27 communities. Of the participating teachers, 95% reported that students increased their awareness of environmental issues — and 76% said that student participation in ecological initiatives increased as a result.
Over the past two years, some 14 Grade 6 classes from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) have taken part in the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program. You can read all about it in the OSDSB Summer/Fall 2015 newsletter.
Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow, sponsored by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, is all about developing the next generation of eco-leaders by engaging students in immersive, hands-on environmental education experiences. In 2014 alone, 2,867 students took part in the program.
This past spring OCDSB classes planted gardens around their schoolyards, thanks to support from the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant initiative.
During the 2015-2016 school year, another eight OCDSB Grade 6 classes will be taking part in the program.
Read all about it HERE.
“Here, birdy, birdy!” The grade 6 students from Scarborough’s St. Henry Catholic School who visited Claremont Field Centre in November 2014 based their action project on birds.
After researching local and endangered bird species, they decided to install two bird feeders in their schoolyard. The students have taken responsibility for refilling the feeders, keeping them clean, and monitoring the biodiversity.
The school community of roughly 330 staff and students has enjoyed observing all the birds that visit the feeders too! With a hawk as school mascot and a great action project, St. Henry really IS all about the birds!
We were delighted to come across this story about the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program in The Parkhill Gazette, a local newspaper in North Middlesex, Ontario.
It’s a great window onto our program, which gives city kids a chance to experience nature firsthand, and encourages them to step up and become community co-leaders.
An excerpt from the article:
“It reaches the kids who don’t necessarily respond to classroom learning,” says Heather Parnham, one of the teachers from PE McGibbon. She added that all of the students benefit, especially since they may not have had an outdoor experience otherwise. “For a lot of students, this is their first time camping.”
Another teacher, Tien Ngo agrees. “When the kids come back from this, they come back changed. The staff and facilities are amazing. They really understand the kids.”
TRCA’s Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program has been named one of Canada’s Clean50 Top15 Sustainability Projects for 2015.
Canada’s Clean 50 awards offer recognition to Canadian leaders in sustainability. Its Top15 Projects program honours sustainable initiatives across the country based on their innovation and ability to inform and inspire other Canadians.
The Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow is a unique program that currently provides an innovative learning experience for eligible students at specific school boards across Ontario.
This curriculum-based program is geared towards a grade six level and supports students from priority neighbourhoods who would otherwise not be able to afford such an important and valuable experience.
Targeted schools are ones that meet specific criteria of priority, either set by the school board, or other organization, related to economic, social, educational or other criteria.
The Clean50 selection for Top Project of the Year was IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership. Other Top15 Projects honourees include Cadillac Fairview’s GREEN AT WORK™ program, Canadian National Railway’s EcoConnexion’s Employee Engagement Program, and Hoffmann-LaRoche’s Zero-Waste Decommissioning Project.
The Elmbank Junior Middle Academy Children’s Garden was greatly enhanced with the support of our Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant.
In partnership with the PACT Urban Peace Program, “Grow to Learn”, the Elmbank Grade 6 students established an edible, native plant garden in the existing children’s’ outdoor classroom and garden.
The project incorporated plantings of currant, gooseberry, blueberry, and raspberry bushes.
Ever heard of a “MOEnarch Garden”?
Grade 6 students from St. John Vianney Catholic School chose this creative name for their new schoolyard butterfly garden, after meeting Moe and his staff at the Albion Hills Field Centre during a three-day visit in April 2014.
Students conducted research about monarchs, built the raised-bed garden shown here, and, after planting swamp milkweed and butterfly weed, took responsibility for watering, weeding and other maintenance.
Congratulations to these Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant recipients for their work in supporting local pollinators!