’50 in 50′ Series: Caring for Our Watersheds™ – Youth Discovering New Environmental Solutions (2011)


Lower Trent Conservation is celebrating its 50th anniversary! To commemorate this milestone occasion, we have released our ’50 in 50′ historical blog series. This special series features 50 articles highlighting some of the achievements, milestones and events of the past 50 years. We hope you enjoy them!

Lower Trent Conservation embarked on a new youth education venture with an added twist in 2011. At first glance, Caring for Our Watersheds™ is not unlike the annual science fairs where students are asked to select a topic, research the problem, and come up with a solution. For Caring for Our Watersheds™, Grades 7 to 9 students are asked to answer the question, “What can you do to improve your watershed?” Students identify a local environmental issue, research the problem, and prepare a proposal describing their solution.

Now for the twists! First, there is prize money involved… good prize money. In fact, $4,500 is up for grabs for the top six finalists, and their schools receive matching money. More importantly though, all students participating in the contest are given the opportunity to receive financial support to implement their environmental idea. Up to $10,000 is available each year!

Caring for Our Watersheds™ – winning project implementation (2017)

Former Agrium Inc. CEO, Mike Wilson, brought the Caring for Our Watersheds™ contest to the Lower Trent watershed region. He wanted youth from his hometown of Campbellford to have the opportunity to participate in the contest. Agrium Inc., a worldwide producer and distributor of fertilizers and agricultural products and services, is the global founder of Caring for Our Watersheds™.

Thanks to a generous donation of $50,000 from Mr. Wilson and the commitment of $10,000 for five years from Agrium Inc., the contest was launched in Campbellford in 2011. During the first year, the competition involved 3 schools in the Campbellford region. Forty proposals were submitted and 80 students participated. Seven years later, with additional funding from Mike Wilson, Agrium Inc. and other generous donors, the program is still going strong, and growing. The program is now offered across the Lower Trent Conservation watershed region. Over 600 students have participated over the past seven years.

LTC Environmental Education Technician, Corinne Harris speaking with students participating in Caring for Our Watersheds™

Projects that have been implemented have ranged from drinking water fountains being installed in schools, to native shoreline plantings. Fifteen projects have been completed to date including:

Battery Waste Disposal – Brighton Public School

Native plants – Campbellford District High School

Municipal Recycling Cans – Brighton Public School

Bag it! Trash it! – East Northumberland Secondary School

Tree Huggers – Kent Public School

Red Maple Seedling Fundraiser – Murray Centennial Public School

Red Fish Route – East Northumberland Secondary School

Crayola Crayon – Murray Centennial Public School

We NEED to Recycle Batteries, Not Throw Them Away! – Murray Centennial Public School

From Garbage to Garden – St. Mary Catholic Elementary School

Lasagna Garden – École secondaire publique Marc Garneau

Keep our Bees Buzzin’ – St. Mary Catholic Elementary School

Rethinking the “Scoop it, Bag it, Trash it” – Murray Centennial Public School

Sundial Project – École secondaire publique Marc Garneau

Pollinator Plant Sale – Murray Centennial Public School

To date, a total of $39,650 in prize money has been given to students, along with a matching $39,650 to their schools to help support school projects and activities.

This program would never have been part of Lower Trent Conservation youth education programming if not for the generosity of Mike Wilson and his connection and commitment to his hometown of Campbellford.

The Caring for Our Watersheds™ contest is introduced to watershed schools in the fall of each year, with the final competition involving six finalists held in April. To find out more about the competition, visit our website.

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