The winners of the 2019 ECO Youth Awards presented their proposals to the City’s Environmental Advisory Board at a regular meeting Feb. 13, where they were recognized with cash prizes to help implement their environmental initiatives within the community.
“It doesn’t have to cover any specific topic. It may include climate change, water, air, waste recycling, soil, transportation, food – you name it,” said Mara Pratt, education co-ordinator with Waste and Recycling Services. “It’s not based on just what we provide at the City, per se.”
The contest is open to youth between the ages of six and 18, and applications can be submitted by community groups, classrooms, clubs, teams or individuals. This year saw nine submissions from two individual applicants, two student groups and five classrooms.
“Last year, we had over 30 applications, and this year, we only had nine – but one of the board members mentioned that even though we had less, the quality seems to keep going up because environmental stewardship and consciousness seems to just be coming to the forefront,” Pratt said. “Younger, stronger applications seem to be coming in, which is really neat and interesting.”
A prize of $750 was presented to Heloise Lorimer School’s Sustainable Farm Project and the Grade 4 class at Windsong Heights to replace paper towel dispensers with blow dryers. Atlas Academy School’s Grade 5 students received $400 to improve their recycling program with waste diversion bins, and $200 went to instructor Stephanie Theoret’s Waste Race Challenge, which seeks to divert waste through audits.
Prizes of $300 went to Grade 7 and 8 entrepreneurs from École francophone d’Airdrie, who are producing environmentally-friendly clothing and accessories; the A.E. Bowers Grade 4 class’ vermi-composting bin; and individual applicant Megan Machan, a Grade 10 student who hopes to see more trees in Airdrie through the establishment of the Airdrie Tree Huggers organization.
“These are the youth, working within their own networks and connections,” Pratt said. “It’s just giving them the opportunity to get things going. Instead of relying on the City, it’s relying on the residents to take ownership of their space and bring something forward.”
Funding for the grants is supplied through a partnership between the City of Airdrie’s Waste and Recycling Services and FortisAlberta, each of which contribute $1,500 to support the program.
“This is probably my favourite meeting every year, and it’s because our youth come out with all their ideas,” said Environmental Advisory Board member Coun. Al Jones, adding it’s important to both council and the board to encourage Airdrie’s youth to “continue to work and to lead the way for future generations.”