Ready, Set, Certify! 8 Reasons to Sign Up for EcoSchools (and Make a Plan)
Nov 7, 2023
A new school year is underway, what better time to sign up and make an EcoSchools plan? Not really sure what EcoSchools is and how it can benefit your students and school? Not to worry, we’ve compiled our top 7 reasons to sign up and make a plan this year! Whether or not you have a passion or knack for sustainability, EcoSchools is a rich opportunity to engage your students in curriculum-based learning through action-oriented eco-activities. Check out our top reasons why it’s a valuable resource in any class:
1) Inspire your students to be climate leaders
When teachers sign up for EcoSchools, they gain access to a catalog of climate actions for grades K-12. Ranging from activities that take only a few minutes to complete, to larger, project-based actions, EcoSchools offers flexibility; there’s truly something for everyone! These actions can be implemented within classrooms as well as through environmental clubs where students may have a budding passion for sustainability that, with a little nurturing and encouragement, can flourish. Without exposing students to these types of opportunities, discussions and content, we are missing the chance to inspire New Brunswick’s emerging climate leaders. For many of us, our greatest achievements can be traced back to a childhood experience or impactful mentor who opened our eyes to a new concept that would embed itself within our personal values or professional pursuits. Teachers have the power to influence and shape the paths that students choose to walk. In a time of climate crisis, sparking an excitement towards sustainability, even in one student, can change the course of our collective future in a positive way.
2) Mobilize youth to make real impacts
EcoSchools across Canada are implementing exciting changes. Initiatives such as indoor food production, the introduction of composts systems, auditing water and replacing fountains, and launching waste-free lunch days all help students to identify opportunities that improve school policies or behaviors.
“During our journey to become an EcoSchools, our students really enjoyed the challenge of completing actions to receive points towards our certification. As we carried out our actions, the students took photos, collected data and shared the results with their class. They enjoyed submitting information on the website, which is more “official”.
At first, you may think there are a lot of tasks to complete. But I promise you that the tasks are an important step for your data and will become a point of conversation between you and your students. Becoming an EcoSchool is an experience between teachers, students and the community that takes learning beyond the classroom. It’s a connection that makes learning worthwhile and gives value to students because they can see their involvement in the school community and beyond.”
– Bryan Ouellette, Vice-Principal, Maplehurst Midde School
3) Position your school as a leader of sustainability in your community
Our goal is to make every New Brunswick school and EcoSchool, and we need your help! When the community sees their local school taking steps toward sustainability, people get inspired. Students develop a sense of pride and start teaching their parents new lifestyle choices that can be implemented at home or work. Show the world that your school is supporting environmental stewardship, leadership and action with EcoShcools!
4) Qualify for The Gaia Project Champion School (or Teacher) Award
Did you know that each year The Gaia Project awards one school and two teachers for outstanding climate leadership, environmental projects and supporting youth sustainability projects? Launched in 2022, The Gaia Project recognizes leaders in environmental education in New Brunswick. All schools must participate in the EcoSchools program in order to be eligible for the Champion School Award, and while this is not required of awarded teachers at this time, it does bode well for The Gaia Project’s final decision. Teachers and schools who achieve EcoSchool certification have clearly demonstrated a commitment to fostering environmental leaders, and The Gaia Project is honoured to recognize the integration of sustainability within their school’s culture and values.
Jessica Curry of Nashwaaksis Middle School: 2022-2023 Champion Teacher Award Recipient
Do you know a school or teacher deserving of The Gaia Project’s Champion Award? Make a nomination and tell us why!
5) Teach the UN Sustainable Development Goals through hands-on, action-based lessons and activities
EcoSchools actions are an excellent way to teach UN SDGs in an immersive and practical way. SDG’s that are embedded within the EcoSchools program are: Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Climate Action. In the 2022-2023 school year, over 18,000 actions completed across Canada connected directly to UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through completing EcoSchools actions, students can make direct connections between global issues and the impacts of our individual behaviors and community policies. Additionally, when teachers make an EcoSchools plan, they have the opportunity to select actions that are linked to specific SDG’s that are most relevant to their classroom content, student interests, or school needs.
6) Advocate and promote a future of sustainability: help make every school and EcoSchool
EcoSchools is a movement, and each school that participates joins a community of passionate and action-oriented teachers and students across Canada. Students who are impacted by EcoSchools are equipped with knowledge and experience that helps them to address climate issues in a solutions-oriented way. EcoSchools mobilizes not just individuals, but school communities to embed values of sustainability within their school culture, and students are empowered to become environmental leaders and advocates. When students work together collaboratively, they begin to understand that even as youth, they can have real, tangible impacts that enhance their community.
7) Climate education can be taught in different ways and belongs in every subject
For many of us, when we think of “climate education”, science immediately comes to mind. Associating climate education with science isn’t wrong, of course, but environmentalism can take many different forms. From science, to math, to civics, to art and music, EcoSchools can easily be integrated into course content, student projects, and classroom protocols. Climate change impacts us on varied levels and therefore, it’s important to integrate climate action into the many different areas of life. Additionally, students have unique skillsets, passions and strengths, so by welcoming EcoSchools into diverse courses, students are given the opportunity to connect to sustainability and environmental stewardship in ways that resonate with their personal interests. And as we all know, learning is more impactful when it’s interesting of course!
8) Win a Garden Tower 2 Starter Kit for your school!
You read that right! New Brunswick teachers who register and make an EcoSchools plan by November 30th, 2023, are entered into a draw to win a Garden Tower 2 starter kit for their classroom or school. Valued at over $1,000, the Garden Tower 2 starter kit includes everything you need to grow vertically at your school. Students will love the opportunity to produce their own herbs, vegetables, flowers or plants; plus, the inside of the Garden Tower 2 can be used for light vermicomposting, so students can also reduce their food waste at school. Registering for EcoSchools and making a plan only takes a few minutes, and EcoSchools is free for all publicly funded schools. So, sign up, make a plan, start logging your actions, and make your school an EcoSchool!
- “Connecting to the Sustainable Development Goals with EcoSchools Canada: SDG Progress Report 2022.” EcoSchools.Ca, ecoschools.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Connecting-to-SDGs-with-EcoSchools-Canada.pdf. Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
- “Our Impact – Ecoschools Canada.” EcoSchools Canada – Every School an EcoSchool, 20 Sept. 2023, ecoschools.ca/about/our-impact/.
Author: Katelyn Plant, Marketing & Communications Manager, The Gaia Project
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