17 Northwestern Ontario Schools Certify as EcoSchools

EcoSchool Certification comes about with help and effort from teachers, administrators and students
EcoSchool Certification comes about with help and effort from teachers, administrators and students

Ontario EcoSchool Certifications a Result of Team Efforts

THUNDER BAY – ENVIRONMENT – Over the past year, champion teachers, administrators, custodians and student-driven EcoTeams have enthusiastically led 17 schools within 5 northwestern Ontario school boards to achieve Ontario EcoSchools certification.

“As a non-profit in Thunder Bay, EcoSuperior Environmental Programs works hard to encourage residents of Northwestern Ontario to live, work, learn and play more sustainably. We are pleased to be a community partner for the Ontario EcoSchools program. The vast geography of Northwestern Ontario can make it challenging for many of our small rural schools to maintain good environmental stewardship.  The Ontario EcoSchools program guides schools to achieve environmental excellence in a capacity that works for that school community.

Our youth will be the individuals that carry the responsibility of our actions.  By learning and working through the Ontario EcoSchools program, we can give them the tools to grow a sustainable future,” says Ellen Mortfield, Executive Director, EcoSuperior.

This year, Huron Superior Catholic District School Board, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, Lakehead Public Schools, Superior Greenstone District School Board, and Keewatin Patricia District School Board have joined a movement of 1,900 certified schools across the province. This success has been supported through the second year of a partnership between Ontario EcoSchools and EcoSuperior Environmental Programs, a Thunder Bay-based non-profit that supports and promotes environmental stewardship throughout the Lake Superior Basin. The partnership has allowed a Northern Outreach Coordinator to provide local resources and targeted regional support throughout the year.

Ontario EcoSchools works with 58 school boards to nurture student leadership and foster environmental learning and action in schools. Certification is based on a provincial standard of excellence and reaches 1,000,000 students across Ontario.

This year, Ontario EcoSchools Northern Outreach Coordinator Erin Moir visited schools in Dryden, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Manitouwadge:“The energy that students and staff put into building environmental awareness and behaviour change is incredible. The ripple effects of the classroom and school-wide achievements are far-reaching, often leaving an impact on the whole community” reports Moir. “It is so exciting to share these schools’ achievements”.

Some additional highlights from the 2017-18 program include:

At Open Roads Public School in Dryden, students have been busy planning a new school ground greening space.  This spring they will build raised garden beds, which will help feed students through the schools’ weekly salad bar.

At Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate & Vocational Institute in Thunder Bay, an EcoTeam of five students led the school to a Bronze certification. Through the Trojan EcoSchool Squad’s efforts, the school has developed a vermicompost (composting with worms) collection system, as well as a living green wall which students researched, designed, built and installed themselves.

In Manitouwadge, students of the Manitouwadge Public School Green Team have developed a plan for recycling, even without a municipal program in place. The school has committed to educating staff and students about waste reduction and reuse before considering purchasing a product.  Beyond that, starting in September 2018, teachers will be collecting recycling from the school and driving it to the Thunder Bay recycling depot when it is convenient. A real commitment to making a difference in a small community!

St Elizabeth School in Thunder Bay is a small school with a big heart – St Elizabeth worked hard this school year to reduce their energy consumption.  The EcoTeam created an ‘energy hog’ award.  If a class was caught with their lights on after leaving the room, the hog was left in the classroom.  It was up to the next class to find a new energy hogger to be awarded.  Students on the EcoTeam reported that by May it was very difficult to find a classroom with the lights left on – attributing their efforts of identifying energy hogs a great success!

“Ontario EcoSchools certification provides a framework for environmental learning and action, and school communities bring it to life. The program allows schools and school boards to benchmark their progress and celebrate achievements year-over-year. We are so proud of the 1,900 schools and 58 school boards that participated in the program in 2017-18. This is a record number over our 13-year history,” states Lindsay Bunce, Executive Director, Ontario EcoSchools

About EcoSuperior 

  • EcoSuperior strives to achieve greater environmental stewardship in Northwestern Ontario and the Lake Superior Basin through engagement, education, collaboration, action, and leadership. We envision thriving communities in northwestern Ontario and the Lake Superior Basin that are ecologically, socially and economically sustainable.
  • Ontario EcoSchools is an award-winning environmental education and certification program for grades K-12 that nurtures environmental leaders, reduces the ecological impact of schools, and builds environmentally responsible school communities. All publicly funded schools can access the EcoSchools program free of charge.