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Up for the Challenge: Students’ Sustainability Projects

Four student-initiated proposals to improve sustainability have been selected for funding in the first-ever Climate Project Challenge, put on in partnership by the District’s student-led Burnaby Youth Sustainability Network, Simon Fraser University, and the Burnaby School District.

Student groups of all ages and their teacher sponsors were invited to submit proposals for a chance to win $1,000 in funding, provided by SFU, to execute their projects to improve sustainability in their community. Four were selected as finalists and shared their ideas in a “Dragon’s Den” style evening hosted by BYSN and held at SFU. In the end, all four finalist proposals were selected for funding.
Scroll down to learn about the projects and see photos.

The event also featured a keynote speech from Mireta Strandberg-Salmon, a Burnaby School District and SFU alumna, who was recently named one of Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists under 25.

Winning Presentation and Project Summaries 

Burnaby Mountain Secondary
Student Caio Krause Conradt from the Burnaby Mountain Garden Project presented on the work the group has done over the past two years in partnership with the non-profit organization Sprouting Chefs. The club works to bring gardening and environmental connection not only to the students of Burnaby Mountain, but also to the elementary schools the team mentors through its work in their greenhouse. With the $1000, Caio and the garden group plan on purchasing soil, plants, tools, and hydroponic towers to support the team as they move into their third year.

Burnaby South Secondary
Grade 11 student Ziya Merchant shared on behalf the group Phase Out Plastic Bottles. They plan to use the grant money to set up reusable water bottle receptacles at secondary schools across Burnaby. The Phase Out Plastic Bottles’ goal is to see all disposable plastic water bottles taken out of school vending machines. They see collecting and redistributing reusable water bottles as an inclusive, sustainable solution to make water accessible to all students without supporting the problematic commodification of water and oil.

Moscrop Secondary
Grade 12 students Gabrielle McGowan and Mark Pan gave an in-depth presentation on the ecological restoration work they’ve done, as well as their efforts to educate the Moscrop community on the impacts of biodiversity loss. Over the past 11 months, they have cleared the land of invasive species, built leadership capacity in a team of junior students who are excited to continue the work, and have become site restoration experts. Gabrielle and Mark plan to use the $1000 grant to purchase soil and plants for the area.

University Highlands Elementary
The students who are part of the Green Team at University Highlands showcased the array of work that they do. The Grade 4 and 5 students shared several multi-faceted microprojects they will do with the grant money – including expanding their existing rain and pollinator gardens, connecting with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, starting a water bottle campaign, and creating signage for their gardens and recycling bins.

All four winning groups were recognized by the Burnaby Board of Education and Superintendent at the May 30 public Board Meeting.

Sustainability and Environmental Awareness in Burnaby Schools

The Climate Project Challenge aligns with the District’s Sustainability Strategic Plan, which prioritizes collaboration, creativity, innovation, Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, and empowering student leadership and action.

Read the Burnaby Beacon news story.

Learn more about efforts to support the environment and read the District’s Sustainability Strategic Plan here.


Posted June 2023