Growing Green Leaders: EcoSchools Canada Inspires Students to Take Action


© Courtesy of EcoSchools Canada

When a group of Grade 6 students at James Morden PS learned about the environmental impact of air travel, they decided to get creative to raise awareness and create change. Inspired by EcoSchools Canada’s program that rewards environmental learning and action, the students redesigned their local airport in Niagara using the popular video game Minecraft, integrating sustainable elements such as solar panels and compost systems. This greener transformation was shared with the airport in hopes of a real-life change.

This school was among 5,000 schools nationwide that have participated in the EcoSchools Canada program, and this project helped propel them to a Platinum certification, the highest level a school can earn. Schools across the country leverage the program’s gamified platform and framework centred around action and measurable results in school communities. In 2023, almost 30,000 K-12 students joined their school’s EcoTeam (environmental club) and helped to divert over 475 tons of waste and plant more than 500 pollinator gardens at their schools.

Registering for the EcoSchools program is free for publicly funded schools in Canada, and once signed up, students and teachers can collectively select from over 50 different actions to complete over the course of the school year. Actions include a guidebook, tracking sheets, and a series of questions designed to measure impacts so students can see their progress over time. All activities include both a learning and action component, and teachers are encouraged to get students outside to learn in, about, for, and from the environment. Schools earn points for completing each action and receive a certification ranging from Bronze to Platinum for their efforts at the end of each school year.

Students from James Morden PS showing their Minecraft airport © Courtesy of EcoSchools Canada

One of the strengths of this bilingual program is its national and global network, spanning over 70 countries. New this year, schools can apply for a mentorship program, where new schools can learn from experienced schools while forming relationships with other passionate young environmentalists. This collaborative
approach nurtures a sense of community and shared responsibility for the environment. Through the international network, schools can also gain access to a wealth of knowledge and best practices in sustainability while participating in inspiring global campaigns.

Participation in the EcoSchools program has shown measurable benefits, including reducing GHGs and increasing student and teacher engagement with environmental issues and the UN SDGs. By providing educators with tailored resources, the program acts as a one-stop shop for teachers to easily incorporate environmental education into the classroom.

“EcoSchools has provided our school with a flexible, personalized framework for advancing environmental initiatives in our school community. Broader exposure and participation this year has us excited about the possibilities for next year! Thank you to EcoSchools for giving us the opportunity to learn and grow as a school community, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we did this year without your support and guidance.” — Amy Cook, Teacher, Fundy Middle and High School, St. George, New Brunswick

In addition to the recognition that comes with being an EcoSchool, there are exciting opportunities throughout the school year, including the chance to win a variety of prizes, design and deliver awareness campaigns and engage their communities in environmental actions. With registration for the 2023-24 year now open, EcoSchools Canada invites educators, students, and parents to join the movement and make a meaningful impact.

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About EcoSchools Canada

EcoSchools Canada offers a certification program for elementary through secondary schools, nurturing environmental learning and climate action.


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