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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Schools, residents, town all win environmental awards

Schools, residents, town all win environmental awards

Georgina residents of all ages were honoured for understanding, appreciating and protecting the environment at this year's annual Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's Conservation Awards.
Lakeside Public School in Keswick received the Water Conservation Award, Peter and Katherine Smith earned the Soil Conservation Award, Lake Simcoe Public School received the Education Award and nature artist Paul Harpley garnered the George R. Richardsaon Award of Honour.

The Town of Georgina also won a water conservation award.

Victoria Pegg and her Grade 6 class at Lakeside Public school worked with authority staff on a buffer, creating a 15-metre strip of willow and dogwood cuttings, as well as native plants in the creek by the school. the buffer will to help prevent sediment, unfiltered runoff, oil and other contaminants from getting into the creek.

"It's something most of them walk by every day, so they took a vested interested in it. Text books are good but hands-on experience is always fabulous and it's making a difference in their community so it added an element of pride," Ms Pegg said.

Many students visited the site daily when going to or coming from school to monitor the progress of their project.

They weren't the only school in town putting their greenest foot forward.

Over the 2008-2009 school year, staff and students at Lake Simcoe Public School took on several greening projects around the school.

They formed an Eco-Team, including staff, students and parent council members, which empowered the school to participate in the many initiatives they developed, including adopting a Peregrine Falcon, picking up garbage in the school and surrounding community properties, energy conservation initiatives, a litterless lunch program and awards for the classes, which produced the least amount of garbage and recycled the most.

Their efforts of the now Silver EcoSchools certified Lake Simcoe Public didn't stop there.

The Grade 8 students worked in partnership with the adopt-a-stream program to plant close to 300 trees along the Amber Creek, which flows near the school and into Lake Simcoe.

Branching out on the idea of tree planting, Peter and Katherine Smith had 3,600 conifer seedlings planted on their property since spring of 2003 when the Smiths first had 1.5 acres of their property planted by the conservation authority.

In 2008, they retired another 1.8 acres of their land for tree planting, which finished in the spring of 2009, when they had another 1.75 acres of land planted with trees.

"This significant amount of planting contributes to improved water quality and helps prevent soil erosion," Dana Eldon, community relations specialist for the conservation authority, said.

Georgina's Mr. Harpley received the authority's top award, the George R. Richardson Award of Honour for his lifetime of work as a conservationist and wildlife and environmental researcher.

Also a well-known painter, Mr. Harpley has worked with the Zephyr Society of Lake Simcoe, the South Lake Simcoe Naturalists and the Toronto Zoo where he is involved in planning and design of award-winning projects as the manager of interpretation, culture and design.

For more information on the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and to find out how you can become a watershed hero, visit www.lsrca.on.ca or call 905-895-1281.

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