Tuesday 27 January 2015

EcoSask News, January 27, 2015

UN Climate Change Conference, Feb. 17
Megan Van Buskirk will talk about her experiences at the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima at 7 pm, Feb. 17, as part of the Sustainable Speaker Series sponsored by the Saskatoon Public Library and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

Fracking Strategy Meeting, Feb. 28
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is organizing a provincial meeting on Feb. 28 to discuss legal, educational, and strategic goals for banning fracking in Saskatchewan. For more information, contact SEN at info@econet.sk.ca or by phone at (306) 652-1275.

Environmental Film Festival, Apr. 24-26
The Saskatchewan Eco Network will be holding their 10th annual environmental film festival in Saskatoon from Apr. 24-26. The festival opens with the presentation of SEN’s Environmental Activist Awards. Workshops following the films provide an opportunity to discuss and share ideas. We’re pleased to be able to support the festival with a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant.

Gardening in North Battleford
Crystal’s Home, North Battleford, provides a supervised living program for female youth ages 12-17 who are unable to remain at home due to child welfare issues. A $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant will help them establish a small container garden. Youth will learn about recycling, reducing and repurposing, how to plan an urban garden in small spaces, composting techniques, rain harvesting, nutrition, hunger, non-violent communication, teamwork, leadership skills, and how everyday choices can cultivate the spirit of community and have a positive impact on the environment.

SK Made Electric Vehicles
Electric mining vehicles developed in Saskatchewan are lowering Potash Corp’s diesel consumption and emissions.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 20 January 2015

EcoSask News, January 20, 2015

Sask Landing Provincial Park
The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport is preparing a new management and development plan for Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park (SLPP) and is seeking public feedback online.

Project WET, Feb. 28, Regina
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Project WET workshop on Feb. 28 in Regina. Project WET is an instructional resource for K-12 teachers and employs various learning styles. It’s suitable for multi-ethnic and multi-grade classrooms.

The Village, Ness Creek, July 16-19
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is co-coordinating The Village at the 25th Ness Creek Music Festival. Organizations with an ecological mandate are invited to set up displays or activities. Contact Mike Wolsfeld for further information.

Responsible Outdoor Recreation
Leave No Trace Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation, and respect for our wildlands. EcoFriendly Sask has become a partner of Leave No Trace Canada in order to promote awareness of their work.
Leave No Trace’s blog provides useful articles on dressing safely for cold-weather activities, campfire tips, and more.

Wild About Vancouver
Vancouver will be holding its first Wild About Vancouver festival in April. We’re delighted to see other cities taking up the theme – and we’re looking forward to our NatureCity Festival in May.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.
You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday 15 January 2015

Outdoor Learning: "The Absolute Best"

“The best math lessons happen after supper on a camping trip,” says Chris Clark, a teacher with the Saskatoon Public School’s Nikanetan program. “The kids are physically tired. They’ve eaten well, slept well; they’re getting in tune with the way human beings are supposed to be. We may do traditional math – even fractions, one of the most challenging concepts – but that’s okay because they haven’t been lectured to all day long.”

Nikanetan is an experiential education program for students in grade 8. The focus is on teamwork and leadership and is designed to re-engage youth who are at risk of dropping out of school. The program is based out of Westmount Community School. All equipment, transportation, and food costs are covered by the program so money is not a barrier to participation.

Experiential Learning 
In experiential learning, students learn by doing and participating. Building quinzhees under different snow conditions is an opportunity to explore structures and how snow works. Shopping for groceries before a camping trip requires mathematics.

“Experiential learning has been around for thousands of years,” Chris says. “And it works. The kids will tell you that they’ve never been so engaged with education and their teachers as they are in this program.”

Outdoor Learning
Chris can’t imagine teaching without being outdoors. “Being outdoors changes the tone, the mood. We know the difference if the students haven’t been outdoors for a while,” he says.

The students go camping within two weeks of starting the program and it plays a valuable role in establishing relationships

The class went up north for a four-day camping trip last year. Chris remembers one student stepping off the bus, heaving a sigh of relief, and saying “This is the absolute best.”

Camping takes students away from all the stress of home and city life. Everything is safe – the people, the activities. They have a list of things they’d like to do, but there’s no clock and if they don’t get everything done, it doesn’t matter.

Learning happens more naturally and more easily outdoors. “We sat in a teepee at Brightwater yesterday and had a 45-minute lecture on hypothermia,” Chris says. “It was unusual, but the students were interested because it was relevant and they were outdoors.”

Nikanetan focuses on teamwork and leadership in order to re-engage students. Sustainability and the environment are not core components of this program.*  “Environmentalism, sustainability, recycling are easier to do when you are well-off,” Chris says. “It can be difficult to buy quality products that can be fixed or local, organic food if you are having problems making ends meet.”

Knowing their students’ backgrounds, the teachers don’t tell students what to do. “We tell students what science is saying about the future and then ask them what they can do,” Chris explains.

Each student is expected to choose a sustainability project. Their goal is to make an impact with the hope that this will become an attitude that they will maintain throughout their lives. Last year the students raised money for breast cancer and a school in Africa. “They didn’t feel they could have an impact on sustainability, but they could help others who had less than them,” Chris says.

Sustainability projects typically involve sharing information with others (e.g. other classes), which also fits with the leadership focus of the program.

It’s difficult to offer in-depth nature studies – “With 28 grade 8 kids, how many bears do you think there are around? We don’t even hear birds.” – but Chris says that they take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way. Drumming is a chance to not only make music but to learn about the history of drumming, hide-making and animals. On visits to Pike Lake, they observe how the scenery changes with the seasons.

Words of Advice
Chris emphasizes the importance of getting outdoors: “You don’t need tons of money to go outside or to go camping. Just do it.”

Want More Info? 
Education for Sustainability: A Conversation with Janet McVittie
“We are Eco Mean but Global Green” Student Action for a Sustainable Future
Impacts of Climate Change on the South Saskatchewan Watershed (Saskatoon Outdoor School) 

*EcoQuest, another program of Saskatoon Public Schools, is specifically designed to focus on outdoor, ecological activities.

Photo credit: Chris Clark, Nikanetan

Tuesday 13 January 2015

EcoSask News, Jan. 13, 2015

snowy sunrise

Electronic Resources for Naturalists, Jan. 22
Wondering what would be the best app or computer program to help you identify birds, record or share your findings? Then be sure to attend the Saskatoon Nature Society’s seminar on Electronic Resources for Naturalists at 7 pm, Jan. 22 in Room 130, Physics Buildings, U of S.

The Nature Society also offers a list of citizen science opportunities compiled by Brenda Dale, a wildlife biologist.

Steak Night Fundraiser, Jan. 24
Support wildlife rehabilitation by attending Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation’s Steak Night Fundraiser on Jan. 24. Chicken and veggie options are also available.

Winter Cycling Fest, Jan. 30
Saskatoon Cycles is hosting its first Winter Cycling Fest on Jan. 30. The evening begins with a Moveable Feast and concludes with a showing of the film A Winter of Cyclists.

Field Trips
Young Naturalists
Jan. 24, 1 pm – Making Tracks
Feb. 7, 1 pm – Chickadee Pishing at Pike Lake
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Other Nature Society Field Trips
Jan. 27, 8 am – 6 pm – Sask Landing Provincial Park Winter Birding
Feb. 8, 1-5 pm, Pike Lake Birding
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

snowy sunrise

Well Done!
Building a Sharing Economy
NYC Wastematch is a free service offered by the NYC Department of Sanitation, which facilitates the exchange of used and surplus goods and equipment from organizations that no longer need them to other entities that do. The program keeps useful resources out of the waste stream while offering clients an opportunity to save money and lower their environmental impact.

Winning the Plastics War
New York City has banned single-use polystyrene foam containers. It joins a list of other cities with a similar ban, helping to shape a change in the take-out food industry.

Saskatoon is currently considering how to address waste. Let’s hope they get on board in promoting and enforcing environmentally-sustainable packaging.

Protecting the Swale
The Swalewatchers endorsed monitoring development and putting nature first in their presentation to the Meewasin Valley Authority which is in the process of developing a master plan for the Northeast Swale.

EcoFriendly Action Grants
We’re pleased to provide $500 grants to the following organizations:

Saskatoon Cycles to support the first Winter Cycling Fest

Young Parent Program, Moose Jaw Family Services who plan to add a composting program and gardening-related craft activities to their children’s garden program

Interested in applying for an EcoFriendly Action Grant? Check out 10 Tips for Successful EcoFriendly Grants.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday 8 January 2015

Smarter Science Better Buildings

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) and the Western Development Museum (WDM) offer a two-hour program for grade 7 students focusing on energy-efficient homes.

The program references Vereco’s net zero home that was on display at the Saskatoon Western Development Museum in 2010. There are six hands-on displays describing the science, history and innovations behind sustainable homes.

Students also tour the museum’s historical home exhibits, looking at the relative energy efficiency/inefficiency of those buildings.

The program is now running at all four Western Development Museum’s in the province.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society and the Western Development Museum requested an EcoFriendly Action Grant in order to review the programs and look for one or two new sites for the exhibits.

The program received a $2000 grant from EcoFriendly Sask in September 2014. Since that time they have:

  • Established two new program opportunities in conjunction with the Moose Jaw Heritage Fair (3 groups of students will work with the displays) and the Saskatchewan Green Living Expo (a chance for the public to gain a greater understanding of energy-efficient buildings);
  • Held preliminary meetings with another potential sponsor; and
  • Introduced a new page about the program on the SES website

Program information, teacher resources, and student packages for the Smarter Science Better Buildings program are available on the WDM’s website.

Interested in applying for an EcoFriendly Action Grant? Check out 10 Tips for Successful EcoFriendly Grant Applications.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

EcoSask News, January 6, 2015

frost on leaf

Upcoming Events
Sanatorium Bird Walk, Jan. 11
Join members of the Saskatoon Nature Society for a bird walk at the Sanatorium from 2-4 pm, Jan. 11.

Hidden Bird Songs, Jan. 15
John Patterson will explain how to identify birds by their song at 7:30 pm, Jan. 15, at the Saskatoon Nature Society meeting.

Great Horned Owl, Jan. 17
Meet Spirt, the Saskatoon Zoo Society’s great horned owl, at 11 am, Jan. 17, at Wild Birds Unlimited. Greg Fenty will be on hand to answer questions.

The Saskatoon Zoo Society offers a wide variety of great children’s programming with lots of opportunities to visit with animals.

Eleven, Jan. 20 
Paul Hanley will talk about his new book, Eleven, at 7 pm, January 20, at the Frances Morrison Library as part of the Saskatoon Public Library/Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Sustainable Speaker Series.

Effects of Oil Development on Grassland Birds, Jan. 21
Jason Unruh, University of Regina, will talk about the effects of oil development on grassland birds at the Saskatchewan Science Centre at 7 pm, Jan. 21. Following Jason’s talk, PCAP-SK will post a video of the Native Prairie Speaker Series presentation.

Native Prairie Restoration & Reclamation Workshop, Jan. 28-29
Chris Helzer is the keynote speaker at PCAP-SK’s Native Prairie Restoration & Reclamation Workshop in Saskatoon, Jan. 28-29.

frost on grass

Good News
Let’s start off the year with some encouraging news stories.

Green Builds: The Canadian Green Building Council members predicts that 70% of their builds will be green by 2017 – up from 30% in 2014 – as green building practices result in lower operating costs and a higher quality building.

Lighting: Madrid is upgrading to LED/internet-connected lights in the world’s largest street lighting project. The new lighting is expected to save Madrid 44 percent of its lighting energy usage compared to the existing infrastructure.

Ingenuity: Innovative thinkers are finding ways to resolve some gnarly problems. After years of research, scientists in Israel may have found a way to repopulate coral reefs.

Clothing: The fashion industry is beginning to tackle the energy, water and waste problems it creates. A French company has shown that you can turn Christmas trees into sexy lingerie, and the Fashion Positive Initiative is designed to help designers and producers improve how clothes are made.

Literature: Finally, if you’re looking for a different approach to climate change, try CliFi, fiction about climate change: “If we are going to inspire people and planners to create more sustainable ways of living, then it is vital to employ the arts.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday 4 January 2015

2014 EcoFriendly Action Grants

EcoFriendly Sask donated $14,500 to 17 Saskatchewan projects in 2014. Projects involved public education, energy, waste, water, native plants, and urban agriculture.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you are looking for assistance with an environmental project.

10 Tips for Successful EcoFriendly Action Grant Applications