Projects from Saskatoon Public Schools students designed to share the message of watershed conservation and environmental responsibility took top spots during the Caring For Our Watersheds program held during the spring of 2021.
The annual competition, sponsored by Nutrien Ltd. with support from community partners Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin and Meewasin Valley Authority, asks students in Grade 7-12 to research a local watershed and provide a solution to an environmental concern in a 1,000-word proposal. Entries were judged on innovation, environmental impact, comprehensive scope, communication, budget, realistic solution and use of visuals.
Five of the 10 projects selected as finalists for the province-wide event came from students in Saskatoon Public Schools, including the first-place project by John Knox of the ScienceTrek program at Montgomery School.
Knox's proposal highlighted the consequences of declining numbers of pollinators, and the benefits of installing mason bee habitats on properties throughout the watershed. He constructed a number of unique habitats for installation in our river valley in order to encourage pollination within the local ecosystems, with each habitat supporting 10 mason bees, which are solitary a bee that nest alone in long, narrow spaces like hollow plant stems.
Knox received a $1,000 prize for his winning project and Montgomery School received a matching $1,000 contribution. He also received some implementation funding for his project after raising funds on his own, an opportunity available to any student who enters the contest.
Tommy Douglas Collegiate student Byron Sebesteny placed second with his The Power of Music project. He created 5-6 songs designed to educate about watersheds and the need to take care of them for the future, including a song about how to get involved in the competition.
Jacob Olszynski's concern about the decline of pollinators led to the construction of habitats that include native prairie plants suitable to attract native prairie pollinators. The project, which earned fourth-place recognition in the competition, saw plants started from seed and habits that include rock, a bird bath, and wood chips for butterfly cocoons.
Projects by students from Greystone Heights School looked to share the conservation message in unique ways.
The project for Reese Conquergood and Talia Falzerano was to create a mural that would first encourage people to think what will happen to the environment in the future if we don't change our daily habits and, second, bring joy and vibrancy to the community.
For Sarah Legg and Katelyn Buller their children's book Finnie and Frank's Adventure was designed to educate kids on the pollutants that go down the storm drains directly into the river, and the power of making a change as a community.
Caring For Our Watersheds is an education program that engages students in preserving and improving their local watersheds through student-led solutions. Nutrien Ltd. is the driver behind the international contest, with Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin and Meewasin Valley Authority supporting the Saskatchewan portion.