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sharing stories & practices: ontario ecoschools monthly newsletter

October Newsletter Contents

OE Resources: Fillable PDFs, Campaign Kits, & More!


Ontario EcoSchools works hard each summer to incorporate feedback from teachers and students participating in the program. This year, we've created fillable PDFs in response to schools that want to use tablets and mobile devices to complete EcoSchools worksheets. Be sure to engage students in using these forms in Adobe Reader. Also ensure that students’ efforts are recognized by including their names on the forms.

To help EcoTeams plan for school-wide environmental campaigns, we have created three comprehensive Environmental Stewardship Campaign Kits. Focused on Earth Hour, Sustainable Transportation and School Ground Clean Up, these kits provide EcoTeams with neat facts to share, activities to deepen engagement, and learning activities for the classroom.

Teachers looking for additional environmental learning activities should also check out our new Grade 10 Civics lessons. Available in English and French, these lessons invite students to interview local environmental activists and organizations, and design an environmental campaign of their own.

Buy Nothing Day Swap a Big Success

Of the three R’s, Reduce is the most important. Students at St. Joseph Secondary School in Dufferin Peel Catholic DSB took this to heart with their annual Buy Nothing Day campaign.

Buy Nothing Day falls on November 28th this year, and is part of an international movement that looks critically at overconsumption. As St. Joseph teacher Amy Cipriano notes: “Buy Nothing Day focuses on anti-consumerism and waste reduction. But it is also a fun event that motivates the school community.”

Taking a positive approach, the EcoTeam members at St. Joseph organized a school-wide Buy Nothing Day Swap. Through posters and announcements, staff and students were encouraged to bring in gently used household goods such as books, video games, and clothing. These items were then exchanged for tickets allowing students to trade items during the swap.


According to the Ecoteam, the campaign took about a month to organize, and the outcome was very rewarding: “Everybody was enthusiastic. Most items 'sold', and everything that was left was donated to charity.” It was such a great success that: “We are doing it again this year!”

St. Joseph claimed the swap as an Environmental Stewardship campaign in their EcoSchools program. By connecting environmental learning with whole-school involvement, you can do the same: celebrate Buy Nothing Day by organizing a similar initiative, or check out these online resources for classroom learning.

The Small but Mighty Maternelles des Arbres


Students of all ages can get their hands dirty in École Georges-Étienne Cartier’s EcoSchools program. This French-language elementary school from Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS) takes School Ground Greening seriously.

One small but mighty initiative is their Maternelle des Arbres (Kindergarten of Trees).

This particular section of the garden consists of donated indigenous trees and plants. During one of the school’s Journées Vertes (Green Days), the parent community brought in cuttings and saplings that students now nurture on their school grounds. As the trees grow big enough, they are transplanted to one of the larger gardens where students can see the results of their efforts.

As one adult member of the Georges-Étienne Cartier EcoTeam explains: “Nurturing and transplanting trees and shrubs is only a small part of the larger vision, which is to create an environment where students can deepen their connection to nature, and their role in protecting and conserving our natural resources.”

In the Maternelle des Arbres initiative, students were involved in each step, from caretaking trees to creating the hand-painted garden signs and: “Even using the word Maternelle (kindergarten) has an effect, as it immediately gives us an image of playful nurturing in a safe environment.”

Planting native species, student-led maintenance, and student-created signage are all best practices under the School Ground Greening section of Ontario EcoSchools certification. For more information on how your school can create your own School Ground Greening project, view our Program Guide.

Fundraising for the Fall: Focus on Grants

Thinking of how to fund all those EcoSchools dreams you have? There are many grants that students and schools can apply for in order to achieve their green goals.

Ontario EcoSchools maintains an online list of these opportunities, many which go throughout the year and have staggered deadlines.



For instance, Student Speakup grants for grade 7-12 are due on November 3rd. You can also apply for EcoLeague Action Project funding and Toyota Evergreen School Ground Greening Grants by November 14th. The Species at Risk Stewardship Fund deadline will be announced in December, as well as the Green Apple School Program fund.

These deadlines are coming quickly, but there are many other opportunities. Take a look through the links and plan ahead for winter and spring deadlines.

Another idea is to contact your local municipality for specific grants in your area. Schools with strong programs and large EcoTeams may want to form a committee that researches and applies for grants. Not only will this fundraising focus help your EcoSchools program, but students can learn a valuable skillset for the future.

For more tips on writing and applying for grants, check out pg. 77 of our School Ground Greening Guide.




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